Chess: Mastering the Game of Kings with Rules, Winning Strategies & How to Play


Chess is a two-player strategy board game played on a checkered gameboard with 64 squares arranged in an 8×8 grid. The game is played by millions of people worldwide. Chess is believed to have originated in India, during the Gupta Empire, where its early form in the 6th century was known as chaturanga.

The game requires a chessboard and 32 Chess pieces, which are also known as chessmen. Each player begins with 16 pieces: one king, one queen, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, and eight pawns. The objective of the game is to checkmate the opponent’s king, which means the king is in a position to be captured (in “check”) and there is no way to move the king out of capture (mate).

The game of Chess has surged in popularity over the past few years, especially with a strong Twitch community and online streamers making the intricacies of the game way more accessible to a younger audience. Streamers like GMHikaru and ChessKid are often playing the game and engaging their audiences with strategies, tips and gameplay.

Rules for playing Chess

The game of Chess is governed by a set of rules designed to ensure fair play. Here are the basic rules:

  1. The game begins with the chessboard positioned so that each player has a white square in the right-hand corner.
  2. Each player begins the game with 16 pieces: one king, one queen, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, and eight pawns.
  3. The player with the white pieces always moves first.
  4. Only one piece can occupy a square at a time.
  5. Each type of piece has its own method of movement.
  6. The game is won by placing the opponent’s king in a position where it is threatened with capture (check) and there is no legal move to remove the threat of capture on the next move (checkmate).

There are also some ‘house rules’ that can be used to vary the game, such as allowing a pawn to move two squares forward on its first move, or allowing ‘en passant’ captures.

Lesser known rules in Chess

1. En Passant: This rule allows a pawn to capture an opponent’s pawn that has moved two squares forward from its original position. This capture must be done on the very next move, otherwise, the right to do so is lost.

2. Castling: This rule allows a player to move their king and one of their rooks at the same time. The king moves two squares towards the rook, and the rook moves to the square the king skipped over.

3. Pawn Promotion: If a pawn reaches the opposite end of the board, it can be promoted to any other piece (except the king). This means a player can have more than one queen, more than two rooks, bishops, or knights.

4. Touch-move Rule: If a player touches one of their own pieces, they must move that piece if it is legal to do so. If a player touches an opponent’s piece, they must capture that piece if it is legal.

5. 50-move Rule: If both players make 50 moves without making a capture or a pawn move, a player can claim a draw.

6. Threefold Repetition Rule: If the same position occurs three times with the same player to move, a player can claim a draw.

7. Checkmate Rule: The game ends as soon as a king is in a position to be captured (in “check”) and cannot move to another square without still being in check.

8. Stalemate Rule: The game is a draw if the player whose turn it is to move is not in check but has no legal move.

9. Underpromotion: This is when a pawn is promoted to a knight, bishop or rook, instead of a queen. It is usually done to avoid stalemate.

10. King’s Restrictions: The king cannot move to a square that is threatened by an enemy piece. Also, the kings of two opposing sides cannot stand on adjacent squares.

11. Double Check: This occurs when two (or more) pieces give check at the same time. The king must move; it is not possible to block both checks at once.

12. Notation: All squares on the chess board are identified with a unique coordinate, a letter and a number. This is used for recording moves, called notation.

13. Time Control: In competitive chess, players must make their moves within a certain time limit, controlled by a chess clock.

14. Illegal Moves: In official games, making an illegal move can lead to the loss of the game. However, the opponent must claim this before making their own move.

15. Insufficient Material: The game is drawn if neither player has enough pieces to checkmate, such as king against king, king against king and bishop, or king against king and knight.

How each piece in Chess moves


Can move one step in any direction, including diagonally.


Can move any number of squares along a rank, file, or diagonal.

Rook / Castle

Can move any number of squares along a rank or file, but not diagonally.


Can move any number of squares diagonally, but cannot jump over other pieces.


Moves in an L-shape, two squares in a straight line and then one square perpendicular to that. It is the only piece that can jump over other pieces.


Moves forward exactly one square, but captures diagonally. On its first move, it has the option of moving two squares forward.

Promotion of a pawn in Chess

In Chess, promotion of a pawn is a rule that allows a pawn that reaches its eighth rank to be converted into any other chess piece of the same color, except for a king. This new piece immediately replaces the pawn on the same square and becomes part of the game. The player can choose to promote the pawn to a queen, rook, bishop, or knight. Most often, players choose to promote their pawn to a queen, as it is the most powerful piece. However, there may be strategic reasons to choose a piece other than the queen.

How to Win at Chess

Winning at Chess requires a strong understanding of the game’s rules, as well as strategies and tactics. Here are some tips to help you win:

  1. Control the center: The player who controls the center of the board has the ability to attack in more directions.
  2. Develop your pieces: Move your pieces to positions where they can attack or defend effectively.
  3. Protect your king: Keep your king safe from attacks by moving it to a safe location or protecting it with other pieces.
  4. Plan your moves: Think about your moves in advance and try to anticipate your opponent’s moves.
  5. Use all of your pieces: Try to use all of your pieces in your attacks, not just your queen and rooks.

Best Strategies for playing Chess

There are many strategies for playing Chess, but some of the most effective general strategies include:

  1. Opening principles: Develop your pieces quickly, control the center, and keep your king safe.
  2. Middle game strategies: Look for tactical opportunities, plan your moves, and coordinate your pieces.
  3. Endgame strategies: Understand the power of the king in the endgame, use your pawns effectively, and know when to exchange pieces.

There are also some specific named Chess strategies that have been studied, used and developed over the years. I find the most interesting ones are:

Fried Liver Attack: This aggressive opening starts with the Italian Game and involves sacrificing a knight to disrupt the opponent’s kingside pawn structure, aiming to launch a rapid attack against their king. To play it, you typically move your knight to f7, provoking the opponent to capture it, leading to a series of tactical complications favoring the attacker.

Stonewall Attack: In this setup, you form a pawn structure resembling a “stonewall” with pawns on d4, e3, f4, and c3, aiming for solid control of the center and strong pawn presence in the middle and on the kingside. To play it, you typically develop your pieces behind this pawn formation, aiming for a slow buildup of pressure and potential kingside attacks.

Sicilian Defense: A popular defense against 1.e4, the Sicilian aims to counterattack from an early stage, typically leading to asymmetrical pawn structures and dynamic play. To play it, you respond to 1.e4 with c5, aiming to control the d4 square and potentially launch a queenside attack later in the game.

Caro-Kann Defense: This solid and reliable defense starts with the moves 1.e4 c6, aiming for a solid pawn structure and counterattacking chances later in the game. To play it, you establish a strong pawn center with c6 and d5, aiming for piece development and possibly fianchettoing the bishop on g7 for added solidity and control.

King’s Indian Defense: A hypermodern defense against 1.d4, the King’s Indian aims for dynamic counterplay and a kingside attack. To play it, you often fianchetto the king’s bishop, play d6 and e5 to control the center, and prepare a kingside pawn storm with moves like f5, aiming for a sharp and aggressive middlegame.

Nimzo-Indian Defense: A solid and flexible defense against 1.d4, the Nimzo-Indian aims for control of the center and dynamic piece play. To play it, you typically develop your pieces harmoniously, focusing on controlling key central squares like e4 and d5, while also preparing to put pressure on white’s center and potentially target the weak c4 pawn.

Queen’s Gambit: Relevant right now in pop culture with the recent Netflix series of the same name, it’s a classic opening where White sacrifices a pawn to gain control of the center and create active piece play. To play it, you start with 1.d4 d5, followed by 2.c4, offering the c4 pawn to provoke Black into capturing and allowing White to establish a strong pawn center with moves like e3 and Nc3, aiming for rapid piece development and control of key central squares.

Remember, while understanding these strategies is important, flexibility and adaptability are key in chess. Always be prepared to adjust your plans based on the specific position and your opponent’s moves!

Scenarios for Chess

There are countless scenarios that can occur in a game of Chess, but here are some common ones and how to handle them:

  1. You are in check: If your king is in check, you must move it out of check, block the check with another piece, or capture the attacking piece.
  2. Your opponent has a material advantage: If your opponent has more pieces than you, try to exchange pieces to reduce their advantage.
  3. You have a passed pawn: If you have a pawn that is not blocked by an opponent’s pawn and cannot be captured by an opponent’s pawn on its way to becoming a queen, try to promote it to a queen as quickly as possible.
  4. Your opponent has a strong position: If your opponent has a strong position, try to disrupt it by attacking their weak points.

Who are the best ever Chess players?

Determining the best chess players ever is subjective and can depend on various factors such as their peak performance, overall career, influence on the game, and more. However, here are some of the most commonly recognized greatest chess players in history:

Garry Kasparov: He is often considered the best chess player in history. Kasparov held the world championship title for 15 years from 1985 to 2000. He made significant contributions to chess as a player, writer, and activist.

Magnus Carlsen: The Norwegian grandmaster is the current world champion and has held the title since 2013. He achieved his grandmaster status at the age of 13 years and 148 days, making him the third youngest grandmaster in history.

Bobby Fischer: Known for ending Soviet dominance in chess, Fischer is considered one of the greatest players of all time. His triumph over Boris Spassky in the 1972 World Chess Championship is one of his best-known achievements.

Anatoly Karpov: Karpov held the world championship title from 1975 to 1985. He is known for his positional style of play and is considered one of the greatest endgame players.

Viswanathan Anand: Often known as ‘Vishy’, the Indian grandmaster is a former World Chess Champion. He held the FIDE title from 2000 to 2002 and became the undisputed World Champion in 2007.

Vladimir Kramnik: He is known for ending Garry Kasparov’s reign as world champion in 2000. Kramnik held the title until 2007.

Jose Raul Capablanca: The Cuban grandmaster, known for his skill in endgames, held the World Championship from 1921 to 1927.

Emanuel Lasker: The German grandmaster held the World Championship for 27 years (1894 to 1921), the longest reign of any world champion.

Mikhail Botvinnik: The Soviet grandmaster held the World Championship title three times and is considered one of the pioneers of the Soviet Chess School.

Wilhelm Steinitz: The Austrian-American is often considered the first official World Chess Champion, holding the title from 1886 to 1894.

These players have left a significant impact on the world of chess, but there are many other notable players who have made significant contributions to the game.

The International Chess Ranking System

The International Chess Ranking System, also known as the Elo rating system, is a method for calculating the relative skill levels of players in games like chess. It was created by Arpad Elo, a Hungarian-American physics professor and chess player. The system uses mathematical equations to predict the outcome of a game based on the players’ current ratings.

A player’s Elo rating can increase or decrease depending on their performance in games. Winning against a higher-rated player results in a larger increase in rating compared to beating a lower-rated player. Similarly, losing to a lower-rated player results in a larger decrease in rating. The system is used by various chess organizations, including the World Chess Federation (FIDE), to rank players worldwide.

Notation in Chess Explained

Chess notation is a system used to record or describe the moves in a game of chess. There are two types of notation: algebraic and descriptive. Algebraic notation, the most common form, uses a letter and number to describe each square on the board (e.g., e4). Each piece is also given a letter (e.g., K for king, Q for queen). Therefore, a move is noted by the piece’s letter followed by the square it moves to (e.g., Ke5). Castling is noted as O-O or O-O-O. Descriptive notation, on the other hand, describes the move from the viewpoint of the player, making it less universal. For instance, a move might be noted as P-K4, meaning a pawn (P) moved to the king’s 4th square (K4). This system is not commonly used today. Notation is important for recording games for study, analysis, or publication.

  a b c d e f g h
8 ♜ ♞ ♝ ♛ ♚ ♝ ♞ ♜ 8
7 ♟ ♟ ♟ ♟ ♟ ♟ ♟ ♟ 7
6 - - - - - - - - 6
5 - - - - - - - - 5
4 - - - - - - - - 4
3 - - - - - - - - 3
2 ♙ ♙ ♙ ♙ ♙ ♙ ♙ ♙ 2
1 ♖ ♘ ♗ ♕ ♔ ♗ ♘ ♖ 1
  a b c d e f g h

Frequently Asked Questions about playing Chess game

What is the objective of Chess? The objective of Chess is to checkmate your opponent’s king.

How does each piece move? Each piece has its own unique movement. The king moves one square in any direction, the queen can move any number of squares along a rank, file, or diagonal, the rook can move any number of squares along a rank or file, the bishop can move any number of squares diagonally, the knight moves to any square not on the same rank, file, or diagonal, and the pawn moves forward one square, but captures diagonally.

Can you move more than one piece at a time? No, you can only move one piece at a time, except when castling.

What is castling? Castling is a special move that involves moving the king and one rook. The king moves two squares towards the rook, and the rook moves to the square the king skipped over.

What is a stalemate? A stalemate is a situation in which one player cannot make any legal moves, but their king is not in check. The game is declared a draw.

For more information about Chess, visit the official website of the World Chess Federation: FIDE.

Visit the home of Chess online at here.