Basic chess rules for beginners ultimate guide

By GM Igor Smirnov



Learning basic chess rules will help you build a strong foundation in chess. Many students do not have clear picture on these rules at their beginning stages.


That is why I decided to help beginners with basic chess rules.


Chess teaches you administration and to extract work from your subordinates. It is a battle between two monarchs. The king manages the troops. He plans the operation and executes it.

Bonus: Download the entire guide in pdf (E-book) , read it anytime anywhere you want. The ebook contains 4 bonus lessons by GM Igor Smirnov

Table of content


Evolution of chess rules


The rules of chess have evolved much over the centuries, from the early chess-like games played in India in the 6th century. For much of that time, the rules varied from area to area.


The modern rules first took form in Italy during the 13th century, giving more mobility to pieces that previously had more restricted movement (such as the queen and bishop).


Such modified rules entered into an accepted form during the late-15th or early 16th century.


chess rules history

The basic moves of the king, rook, and knight remain unchanged. Pawns originally did not have the option of moving two squares on their first move and when promoted by reaching the eighth rank, could become a queen only.


The chessboard

Chess is played on a square board divided into 64 squares (eight-by-eight) of alternating color.


No matter what the actual colors of the board, the lighter-colored squares are called “light” or “white” and the darker-colored squares are called “dark” or “black”.


Sixteen White and sixteen Black pieces are placed on the board at the beginning of the game. The board is placed so that a white square is in each player’s bottom-right corner.


Horizontal rows are called ranks and vertical rows are called files.


According to FIDE equipment standards, the length of side of a square should be twice the length of the diameter of the base of a pawn.

Black side

chess rules board

White side


Symbols of chess pieces







A chess piece, or chessman, is any of the 32 movable objects deployed on a chessboard used to play the game of chess. In a standard game of chess, each of the two players begins a game with the following 16 pieces:

1 King

1 Queen

2 Rooks

2 Bishops

2 Knights

8 Pawns


Arrangements of pieces

chess rules starting position

This is the starting position of the game


At the beginning of the game, the pieces are arranged as shown in the diagram: for each side one king, one queen, two rooks, two bishops, two knights, and eight pawns. The pieces are placed, one on a single square, as follows:

The rooks are placed on the outside corners, right and left edge.

The knights are placed immediately inside the rooks.

The bishops are placed immediately inside the knights.

The queen is placed on the central square of the same color of that of the player: White queen on the white square and Black queen on the black square.

The king takes the vacant spot next to the queen.

The pawns are placed one square in front of all of the other pieces.

You cannot place more than one piece on a square at any time.

Summary Slide-1


Nature and objectives of the game


The objective of each player is to put the opponent’s king under attack in such a way that the opponent has no legal move. The player who achieves this goal is said to have checkmated the opponent’s king and to have won the game.


Leaving one’s king under attack, exposing one’s king to attack and also ’capturing’ the opponent’s king is not allowed – the opponent whose king has been checkmated has lost the game. If the position is such that neither player can possibly achieve a checkmate, the game is drawn.


Although the king is the most important piece, it is usually the weakest piece in the game until a later phase, the endgame.

The game of chess is played between two opponents who move their pieces alternately on a square board called a chessboard.


The player with the White pieces commences the game. A player is said to ‘have the move’ when his opponent’s move has been completed.


The object of the game is to trap the opponent’s king so that its escape is not possible (checkmate). If a player’s king is threatened with capture, it is said to be in check, and the player must remove the threat of capture on the next move. If this cannot be done, the king is said to be in checkmate.

chess rules-nature of chess


Naming of squares

Keeping a record of chess moves will be very useful in improving your standard of chess. It is mandatory in all recognized tournaments, in order to settle disputes about illegal positions, overstepping time control and making claims for a draw by the fifty-move rule or repetition of position.


Each square of the chessboard is identified with a unique pair comprising a letter and a number. The vertical files are labelled in small letters “a” to “h”, from White’s left to White’s right. Similarly, the horizontal ranks are numbered from 1 to 8.


Each square of the board, then, is uniquely identified by its file and rank (letter and number). The White queen, for example, starts the game on the square d1 and the Black queen on d8.

chess rules naming of square

The following are the letters used in capitals to represent various pieces.

King - K

Queen – Q

Rook – R

Bishop – B

Knight – N

Pawn - No symbol

A pawn does not have any specific symbol but is represented by the name of the square it occupies, i.e. it is not indicated by its first letter but recognized by the absence of such a letter. Example: the moves are written e5, d4, a5 – not pe5, pd4, pa5.


Colour classification

There are 64 squares on a chessboard – 32 White squares and 32 Black squares.

-> In the horizontal ranks, odd numbers are Black squares (1, 3, 5, 7)


-> In the horizontal ranks, even numbers are White squares (2, 4, 6, 8)


-> In the vertical files, odd letters are Black squares (a, c, e, g)


-> In the vertical files, even letters are White squares (b, d, f, h)


chess rules board numbers

Hence, the rule for colour classification is:


i) Odd letter x odd number is a Black square – e.g. a1, c3

ii) Even letter x even number is a Black square – e.g. b2, d4

iii) Odd letter x even number is a White square – e.g. a2, c4

iv) Even letter x odd number is a White square – e.g. b1, d3



Movement of the chess pieces

The king moves exactly one square horizontally, vertically or diagonally

movement of king

The rook moves horizontally or vertically, through any number of unoccupied squares

movement of rook

A bishop moves any number of vacant squares in any diagonal direction.