Best Way for Beginners to Learn Chess

Chess is an incredibly addicting and fun game that requires strategy and skills. This board game has been around for centuries and has been a game for scholars and intellectuals. But, playing chess does not necessarily mean that you need a genius brain.

Most beginners playing their first game will have this questionable look on their face while looking down at the board and might be wondering, what the heck am I supposed to do with all these pieces?

No matter what your age is, it is never too late to learn how to play this fun and challenging board game. Here are the best ways on how you can learn to play chess:

1. Learn from the Master

Do you know someone who plays chess? Well, you can always ask him or her for some time to teach you how to play. You do not need to look for a literal “chess master” to explain the basics of chess. Just someone who is willing to teach you the rules and moves and you can always broaden it with your own.

2. Chess Apps and Online Chess Tutorials

If you don’t know anyone to teach you the basic, there are numerous chess mobile apps and chess online tutorials you can download or watch to learn how to play. Some apps are complete with lesson and strategy tips for you to become an expert player in no time.

3. Be your Own Master

Sometimes, this is the simplest answer. Learning how to play chess on your own is the easiest and best way to learn chess. The internet has all the information of today. A simple Google search on how to learn how to play a game will provide you thousands of results. You have the time and can control your own learning pace plus the freedom to think of certain strategies to improve your gameplay.

How to Play Chess

Whether you have someone to teach you or learn on your own, playing chess will be really easy once you get to know the different chess pieces and terminologies used in a chess game.

Chess Pieces

1. Pawns

Pawns are the most basic chess piece. There are 8 pieces of them. On its first move, it can move forward for a single or two spaces. After the first forward move, it is only allowed to take one space. Pawns are allowed to attack other pieces on a single space diagonally from it. However, it can never move backward.

2. Rooks

Rooks the chess pieces that look like a castle tower. Rooks can move vertically or horizontally as many spaces as there are available and can attack any piece that is in its path.

3. Knight

Knight is represented by a horse and is the most complicated chess piece of all. The knight is the only piece which can jump other pieces. It moves in an “L” shape which consists of one space vertically then 2 spaces horizontally or two spaces vertically then one space horizontally. Knights attack the pieces that are in the space that it lands.

4. Bishop

Shaped like a bishop’s hat, bishops can only move in a diagonal line, however, it can move to as many spaces there are available and attacks any piece that is in its path.

5. Queen

The queen is the most powerful chess piece. She can move either diagonally, vertically, horizontally by any number of spaces available and attack any piece from any of those direction. However, the queen cannot mimic the “L” moves of a knight.

6. King

Like the pawns, the king can only move a single space on each turn. However, a king can move in any direction it wants and attack in the same manner. King is the only chess piece that you do not want to lose since losing the king means losing the game.

The Chess Board

Now that you know every piece on a chess board, the next thing you need to know is where to place them. Here is how to set up your pieces.

  • Place all 8 pawns on the 2nd line of the chessboard that is in front of you. This should make a wall of pawns that is between you and your opponent.
  • There are 2 pieces of rook and each of them should take the corner of both side of the board.
  • There are also 2 pieces of knights and each of them needs to place next to the rooks.
  • Each of the 2 bishop pieces needs to be placed next to the knights.
  • The queen needs to be placed in one of 2 in-between spaces left. The rule is that you should place the queen to a space according to its color. If you have the white queen then put it on the white space; if it is black then it should be placed on the black square.
  • Lastly, the king will occupy the last remaining space.
  • You will see if the setup of your chessboard is right when the queen pieces are opposite to each other as well as the Kings.

The Goal

The main objective of chess is to capture the king piece of your opponent and vice versa. While this is the main objective, your auxiliary aim should be to protect your king from getting caught at all cost. This can be done by either avoiding the capture of your own pieces or capturing as many of your opponent’s pieces.

Understanding “Checkmate” in Chess

“Checkmate” means that your King is under attack. It comes from “Shah Mat”, a Persian phrase, which translates to “the King is ambushed”. If you do not move your king to a safe area or remove the threat, one single move from your opponent will capture your king and the game will end.

Here are 3 methods on how to move out from a check:

  1. By blocking the move with one of your chess pieces. However, this move does not work for knights and pawns.
  2. By capturing the checking piece.
  3. By moving your king to a safe space. A SAFE square is one where your king will not be checked by other pieces of your opponent.

However, if you can’t do any of the above and that your king is still in check, then it is game over and you lost.

The Gameplay

The player who controls the black pieces is named “Black” and the player controlling the white pieces are named “White”. The game starts with the White’s first move, then the players will have alternate moves. It is required to make a move and skipping a move is not allowed. The gameplay will continue until a king piece is captured or checkmated, a draw is declared or a player resigns. Furthermore, if a game is played under timed gameplay, then the player who exceeds in his time limit will lose the game.

The official rules of chess game do not include the procedure that determines who plays White. Such decision is left open to particular tournament rules such as Round-robin tournament or Swiss system tournament. In a case of a non-competitive chess game, determining who plays white is based on mutual agreement or some kind of random choice.

Special Moves in Chess

Aside from the basic moves of each chess piece, there are also advanced or special moves in a chess game. These are:

1. Castling

Castling is the moving of the king 2 squares towards a rook and placing the rook on the king’s other side which is adjacent to it. Castling is only allowed if all conditions are met:

  • The rook and king must be on the same rank
  • The king may not be in check nor the king may end up or pass through a square that is under attack by the opponent’s piece
  • There must be no pieces between the rook and the king
  • The rook and king involved in this move should not have been previously moved

2. En passant

Pawns can move two spaces forward to its first move. Now, let’s say you do just that and you land next to the pawn of your opponent, on the same row. On the very next move, your opponent is allowed to capture your pawn “en passant” (in passing).

This special move can only happen directly after a certain pawn has made its first 2-space move. The opportunity is lost if a turn goes by. This move is only available to pawns, thus you can’t capture a knight or the queen en passant.

3. Pawn Promotion

If one of your pawns advances to its eighth ranks, that pawn is then promoted or converted to a queen, knight, bishop or rook (depending on your choice). This choice is not limited to previously captured pieces. Therefore it is theoretically possible for a player to have up to 10 knights, bishops, rooks or nine queens if all their pawns are promoted.


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