New to Chess

Playing the Game

Playing the Game

Learn the basic rules of chess and how to play a full game.

  • The Language of Chess

    Every square in chess has a name based on a coordinate system. All files have a letter, from a - h, going from the queen's rook file to the king's rook file. Each rank has a number from the 1st and 2nd rank where White's pieces begin through the 7th and 8th rank where Black's pieces begin. Each piece is notated this way: King = K. Queen = Q. Rook = R. Bishop = B. Knight = N. Pawn - no symbol. You write a move with the letter of the piece followed by the letter and numbers of the square. For example, Kf3 if a king reaches the f3 square, or if you place a pawn on f3 then just f3 because pawns have no symbol.

    • 3 min
    • 5 challenges
  • Moving and Capturing

    A great strategy to help win chess games is to capture opposing pieces. Most captures are made the same way that pieces normally move. Remember, that pawns capture one square diagonally, instead of their normal forward move. You notate a capture by adding an "x"between the piece's letter and the square it moves to. For example if a queen captures on a2 you would write Qxa2. You notate a promotion by adding and "=" symbol and the letter for the new piece. For example if a pawn promotes to a queen on d8 you would write d8=Q.

    • 3 min
    • 5 challenges
  • Check

    Check means that one side is threatening to capture the opposing king. You never capture the king in chess, so the other side must get out of check. To notate a check, you add a "+" to the end of your notation. For example, knight to g6 with a check is notated as Ng6+.

    • 1 min
    • 5 challenges
  • Getting Out of Check

    When you are in check you must escape check. The ways to get out of check are to move the king, block the check with another piece or to capture the checking piece.

    • 1 min
    • 5 challenges
  • Checkmate

    You win when your opponent is in check and cannot escape. That is called checkmate!

    • 1 min
    • 5 challenges
  • Fastest Checkmate

    Have you ever wondered what the fastest possible checkmate is in chess? The fastest possible checkmate takes only two moves. Try to follow the moves below. 1. f3 e5 2. g4 Qh4# The notation for checkmate is #.

    • 2 min
    • 5 challenges
  • Stalemate

    Stalemate occurs when there are no possible moves, but neither king is in check. Stalemate is a draw, even if one of the players has many more pieces on the board. A good example of stalemate occurs when one side just has a king, which is not in check, but it can't move because any attempted move would be moving into check,

    • 3 min
    • 5 challenges
  • Other Draws

    Not all chess games are won or lost. Sometimes they end in a draw. These are the ways that can happen: 1. Stalemate. 2. Both players agree to a draw. 3. If the exact same position has repeated three times, either player can claim a draw. 4. If 50 moves have occurred without a pawn move or a capture either player can claim a draw.

    • 1 min
    • 5 challenges
  • Castling

    Castling is a special move to protect your king and activate your rook. It's the only time in chess you can move two pieces in one move. The king moves two squares to the right or left and the rook moves directly to the other side of the king. You can only castle if neither the rook or king have moved and there are no pieces in the way. You can also not castle when in check, into check or through check.

    • 3 min
    • 5 challenges
  • En Passant

    This is the most unusual rule in chess - make sure you learn it. En-passant occurs when a pawn has just moved two squares. It's possible the very next move for the opponent to capture that pawn with one of his or her own, as if that pawn had only moved one square. For example if a Black pawn on g7 advanced to g5 then a White pawn on h5 could capture it by moving to the g6 square. This is only possible on the very next move. If another move is played then en-passant is no longer possible.

    • 1 min
    • 5 challenges
  • Finding the Right Move

    There are dozens of possible chess moves at any time. How do you find the right one? Each turn you will want to consider your option and your opponent's options. You'll want to pay particular attention to checks, captures and threats.

    • 4 min
    • 5 challenges
  • Playing a Game

    Watch a complete game of chess played with all moves explained, 1. e4 c6 Both sides move pawns towards the center. 2. d4 d5 Both sides place a 2nd pawn in the center and allow pieces out. 3. Nc3 dxe4 White defends a pawn and Black captures it. 4. Nxe4 Nd7 White recaptures and Black develops a knight. 5. Bc4 Ngf6 White develops a bishop and Black develops a knight. 6. Ng5 h6 White targets the f7 pawn, but Black doesn't see the threat. 7. Bf7# Checkmate!

    • 3 min
    • 5 challenges
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