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Chess basics

Chess basics


Chessboard is a 64 square board where light and dark squares alternate. Chessboard is to be set up so that lower right corner is always a light square. If there are coordinates marked on the chessboard that lower right corner is marked as h1 or a8 depending on which side you look at the board. Horizontal lines are called rows and they are marked with numbers 1-8. Vertical lines are called files and they are marked with alphabets from a-h. There are also something called diagonals on a chessboard and those are squares that are on the a1-h8 line, for example.

Chess pieces

Both sides have 16 chess pieces at their disposal at the start of the game so there are 32 pieces to see in the starting position. The white pieces are to be set on the first two rows of the board and the black pieces to the last two rows. Pawns that both sides have eight at the start of the game go in to the second and seventh row of the board. Rooks are to be placed in to each corner of the board so the white rooks go to a1 and h1 and the black rooks go to a8 and h8. The knights are to be placed beside the rooks in the following squares: b1, b8, g1 and g8. Next the bishops are placed the squares c1, c8, f1 and f8. In the two reamining squares in the back rank the queen and king are placed. The queens are placed on d1 and d8 as the dress matches the shoes. The kings are placed in the last remaining square on the back rank and that is e1 for the white king and e8 for the black king. Correct placement of the pieces in the traditional starting of position of chess is shown below.

The value of chess pieces compared to each other

  • Pawn is the basic value that other pieces are compared to.
  • Knight has the value of around three pawns.
  • Bishop has the value of around three pawns as well or maybe three and a half.
  • Rook has the value of around five pawns.
  • Queen has the value of around nine pawns.
  • King is the most valuable piece because its fate determines the outcome of the game.
  • The movement of the pieces and characteristics of them

    A pawn moves one square at a time straight forward with the exceptions when it moves the first time in the game and when it captures a piece. When a pawn leaves its original square it can move either one or two squares forward. A pawn can capture opponent's piece if it is diagonally one square forward of the pawn on either left or right. You can and must promote the pawn if you get it to your last row, this happens when white's pawn reaches eight row or black's pawn reaches the first row. You can promote a pawn to a knight, a bishop, a rook or a queen of the same color as the pawn. You can't promote a pawn to a king!!

    A knight has a L-shaped movement. A knight is the only piece that can jump over other pieces. In the starting position the knight on b1 can move to either to a3 or c3 square. If the square d2 would be free, the knight could also go there. Of course, the knight could also take a piece of a different color from there provided that the move would be compliant with the rules of chess. White's knight on g1 can move in the starting position to either to f3 or h3 and when the square e2 becomes vacant or opponent's piece comes there later the knight can also go there the same way that the b1-knight could go to d2. The knight can never start from a light square and land on a light square, it has to always land to a square that is of different color than the starting square.

    A bishop always moves along diagonals. There are two kinds of bishops in a game of chess, one moves along the light squares and the other along dark squares. The bishops can move diagonally as far as there is space to move but it can't change the direction it moves to with one move. If a bishop leaves from the f1 sqaure it takes two moves to reach f3, provided that the squares on the way are free or the bishop can take opponent's piece on the way there. First the bishop goes to either e2 or g2 and only on the next move can it go to f3. A bishop can't jump over pieces. A bishop takes pieces the same way it moves.

    A rook moves along horizontal and vertical lines. A rook also takes pieces the same way it moves and it can't jump over pieces if castling does not count.

    A queen combines the movement of the bishops and rook, so it can go along either diagonals or rows or files. With one move, queen can only do one of the allowed movements.

    A king moves one square to any direction except during castling it moves two squares towards the rook and rook jumps over the king. This aplies to both long and short castles.

    Chess terminology more closely and covering the following terms: castling, en passant, check, doublecheck, checkmate, stalemate, pin, fork, touch, queenside, kingside and fianchettoing the bishop.

    Castling is considered to be a move made by the king! This means that if you are going to castle you have to move the king first and only after that you move rook or if you can move both at the same time you have to touch the king first. If you touch the rook first, then you have to move the rook. In order to do the castling, the following conditions have to be met: neither the king or the rook on the side you are going to castle can't have moved previously in the game, the king can't be in check when you want to castle nor can it go to a square where it would end up being checked, the king also can't jump over squares where it would be checked. A rook can be threatened when you start to castle and it does not prevent castling. There can't be any pieces between the king and the rook when you start to castle. Castling is done by moving the king two squares towards the rook and rook jumps over the king. In short castle the White king moves from the e1 square to g1 and if it were Black to castle short, the king would move from e8 to g8. The rook goes in White's short castle from the square h1 to f1 and Black's from h8 to f8. In long castle, the White king goes from e1 to c1 and the rook goes from a1 to d1. In Black's long castle the king moves from e8 to c8 and rook from a8 to d8. In the diagram below White has made short castle and Black has went to long castle.

    En passant was invented at the same time when they started to use double sqaure advancement of pawns from the starting position. It also connects closely to that pawn advancement. The position in the diagram has been made just for this example and it is reached after the moves 1.d4 e5 2.b3 e4.

    White plays 3.f4 and that means that the white pawn advances from f2 to f4, so the pawn moves two squares forward.

    Black can now if he or she chooses take the f-pawn en passant. It happens so that the Black pawn moves to f3 and White's pawn on f4 is removed from the board. In the diagram below there is a position after the en passant 3...exf3e.p. has been done. Attention!! Black can only take White's f-pawn in this position even though White's d-pawn has also made the two square advance when it moved. This is because you can only take en passant on the very next move after the opponent has done the two square advancement with the pawn. If you wait a move before you do it, you are no longer allowed to do it!!

    When a player gives a check it means that some piece is threatening the king. It is a move that you need to take action to move out of it. And you can block the check in the following ways: you can either move the king out of the check to a safe square or you can move one of your pieces between the checking piece and your king (does not work with knights) or you can sometimes take the checking piece with one of your own pieces.

    Doublecheck is done so that when you move a piece that checks the king also the piece behind the moved piece checks the king. The only answer to a doublecheck is to move the king. An example of a doublecheck in the diagram below. Both the knight and the bishop check the black king. Doublecheck was done by White when he moved his knight from d4 to f5. The situation on the board is also mate because Black has no legal moves left and his king is in check. The king can't go to f6 because of the darksquared bishop, the square h6 is off limits from the Black king because the knight on f5, the squares f8, g8 and h8 (also covered by White's darksquared bishop) are covered by the queen and the squares f7, g6 and h7 are blocked by Black's own pieces.

    Checkmate is the goal of the game. It is a situation on the board where the king has no legal way to get out of check.

    Stalemate is a situation on the board where the side who is on the move has no legal moves left and the king is not on check.

    Pin is a situation where a less valuable piece is in front of a piece that has higher value and the player has made it so that if the less valuable piece moves, the piece with the higher value can be captured. In the diagram below Black has pinned the white knight by playing 3...Bb4. The white knight can't move because if it did, the white king would be in check because of the bishop.

    A fork is a term that is used when one piece, for instance, a knight threatens more than one of the opponent's pieces.

    Touch rule in chess means that if you touch a piece you have to move it if it is legal to do so. If you touch a piece that is pinned to the king, for example, you can't move that piece because it would be illegal move or in other words a move that violates the rules of chess.

    Queenside is the side of the board where the queens reside in the starting position which covers the rows from 1-8 but only half way as only files from a to d are part of the queenside.

    Kingside is the other side of the board where kings are in the starting position so rows from 1-8 but only files from e to h.

    Fianchettoing the bishop means that you place it in the long diagonal. If, for instance, White plays first his pawn to b3 and then his bishop to b2, the darksquared bishop is fianchettoed. Other bishops can be fianchettoed in the same manner. In the diagram below all bishops are fianchettoed.

    Making chess notations. The moves made in a chess game are always half moves and that means that only after both players have moved that whole move is completed. For example, 1.e4 is only a half move and when Black answers with e5 or some other move, the move is fully completed. So after 1.e4 e5 there has been one whole move completed in the game.

    When you move a pawn you only mark the square where it goes to. For instance, 1.e4 means that the pawn that was on the square e2 has moved two sqaures forward on move one. If a pawn takes opponent's piece off the board, the capture is marked with x. For clarity, you also mark which pawn has done the capture of the piece. If White has pawns on c4 and e4 and there is a black piece on d5, the capture with the c-pawn is marked cxd5 and the capture with the e-pawn would be marked exd5. A pawn promotion is marked, for example, a8=Q. In the example white pawn has gone from the square a7 to a8 and promoted itself to a queen. If you capture a piece when you promote the pawn, it is marked, for instance, bxa8=Q. If that promotion and capture had also resulted in a check, it would be marked bxa8=Q+. If that promotion and capture had also resulted in a mate, it would be marked bxa8=Q#.

    A knight is marked in the notation with the letter N and you need to add there the square it goes to and possible capture of a piece. 1.Nf3 means that in the first move by White the knight has moved from g1 to f3. If a piece can be taken by more than one knight or only to move to a same square you need to specify which knight moves. If White has knights on b1 and f3, for example, and both can move to the square d2 you need to specify the knight that moves. If the b-knight goes to d2, it is marked Nbd2 and in case the f-knight goes to d2, it can be marked Nfd2. If the knights are on the same file, for instance, on e6 and e4 and you would move one of them to c5, it would be marked either N6c5 or N4c5 depending on which knight moves.

    A bishop is marked in the notation with the letter B. Otherwise the markings are made the same way as with other pieces.

    A rook is marked in the notation with the letter R. Otherwise the markings are made the same way as with other pieces.

    A queen is marked in the notation with the letter Q. Otherwise the markings are made the same way as with other pieces.

    A king is marked in the notation with the letter K. Otherwise the markings are made the same way as with other pieces except that there can be only one king of the same color in a chessboard.

    The way that castle is marked in the notation depends on whether it is long or short castle. Short castle is O-O and long castle is marked as O-O-O. Short castle is always made in the kingside ans long castle to the queenside.

    A check is marked with + sign.

    Checkmate is marked with # sign.

    White's victory is marked as 1-0 and Black's victory as 0-1. A draw is marked ½-½. If you or your opponent offers a draw that is marked (=) in the notation.

    Markings used in the analysis:

  • = equal position
  • +/= small advantage for White
  • =/+ small advantage for Black
  • ± clear advantage for White
  • ∓ clear advantage for Black
  • +- White has a winning advantage
  • -+ Black has a winning advantage
  • ! good move
  • !! excellent move
  • ? a bad move
  • ?? a very bad move
  • !? interesting move
  • ?! dubious move