Chess Players Hand Book

Sep 21, 2015, 4:10 AM |

The Chess-player’s Handbook: A Popular and Scientific Introduction to the game of Chess

The game of Chess, the most fascinating and intellectual pastime which the “wisdom of antiquity” has bequeathed to us, is played by two persons, each having at command a little army of sixteen men, upon a board divided into sixty-four squares, eight on each of the four sides.


The squares are usually coloured white and black, or red and white, alternately; and custom has made it an indispensable regulation in this country, that the board shall be so placed that each player has a white square at his right-hand corner.

Each player, it will be observed, has eight superior Pieces or officers, and eight minor ones which are called Pawns; and for the purpose of distinction, the Pieces and Pawns of one party are of a different colour to those of the other.

On beginning a game, these Pieces and Pawns are disposed in the manner shown on the foregoing diagram. The King and Queen occupy the centre squares of the first or “royal” line, as it is called, and each has for its supporters a Bishop, a Knight, and a Rook, while before the whole stand the Pawns or Foot-soldiers in a row.

To prevent a common error among young players, of misplacing the King and Queen on commencing a game, it is well to bear in mind that at the outset the white King always stands on a black square, and the black King on a white one.

A knowledge of the moves peculiar to these several men is so difficult to describe in writing, and so comparatively easy to acquire over the chess-board, from any competent person, that the learner is strongly recommended to avail himself of the latter means when practicable: for the use, however, of those who have no chess-playing acquaintance at command, the subjoined description will, it is hoped, suffice.

(Text from The Chess-player’s Handbook: A Popular and Scientific Introduction to the game of Chess by Howard Staunton, 1847)