How to Play the Chess Pieces

The game chess has existed almost as long as history itself. With origins dating back to 531 AD, chess has been played using dice, over the telephone and even in outer space. Thanks to several well-known chess enthusiasts like Bobby Fischer and Arnold Denker, the game has become increasingly popular among the young and old. This popularity enables greater likeness of the game, as well as teaching critical life lessons such as strategy, planning ahead, cause and effect, and opportunity versus consequence.

For those who approach chess as a brainy, mind-numbing game, there is much to gain from learning the game. But for those who prefer quick ending games, chess is certainly one suggested to avoid. Fortunately, there are many curious enough about the game to jump in with both feet to learn all they can. Those will gain tremendous mental attributes without necessarily being familiar with the lessons being learned. And since chess games have been known to span days, even years, truly intrigued chess beginners might be more apt to stick with the longevity of the game.

The basic components of chess are the chessboard, two players and their respective pieces. A clock also may be used. Since chess is a game bearing such unique play and strategy, knowing how the pieces play the game is the most critical lesson in learning chess.

The King is the most important piece in the chess game. The player who captures their opponents King is the winner. While it sounds simple, playing the King can often be tricky. You may capture every piece from your opponent, with their King in play on the board, and still not win the game. The King should always be kept from attack, however he cannot be moved into a check position or move adjacent to the opponent’s King. The King is the most diverse piece, with respect to move availability, as it can be moved one space forward, backward or sideways. The only exception is castling.

The Queen is the most powerful piece in the chess game. Since the Queen embodies such power in the game, she should be carefully played and protected at all times. The Queen has almost unlimited movement in any direction, including forward, backward and diagonal, provided no other pieces block the move.

The Rook is the second most powerful piece in the chess game with unlimited vertical or horizontal movement provided no other pieces block the move. The Rook may capture any chess piece in play.

The Bishop is similar to the Rook with unlimited movement, however restricted to only diagonal moves provided no other piece block the move. The Bishop may capture any chess piece in play.

The Knight has unique move capability. The Knight moves in a “L-shaped” pattern – two horizontal spaces and one vertical space or one horizontal space and two vertical spaces. A helpful tip when moving is to remember the Knight will always land on an opposite color square than the one from which he moved.

The Pawn moves forward, one space at a time. The only exception is during the opening move when the Pawn is granted movement of two spaces forward. The Pawn is never allowed to move backward or diagonally, however the Pawn captures other pieces diagonally. Unlike other chess pieces, the Pawn may be “promoted” to another piece (most often the Queen) should it reach their opponent’s side of the board. Once a Pawn has reached the opposing side of the board, it must be promoted to another piece so as to no longer remain a Pawn. Ironically, this rule allows a player to perhaps carry more than two of each piece at one time.

A clock may or may not be used during game play. However, a clock allows for more structured play and timely moves to occur rather than lengthy, drawn out games. Most chess clubs and organizations require a clock during regulation play.

Understanding the components of chess, particularly how each piece plays the game, is the first step in developing an in-depth knowledge of the game. Strategy and critical thinking will evolve as a player begins and advances to a more intermediate level of game play. For some, their first game of chess develops into a lifelong passion. By Melissa A. Tyson.

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