How to play chess
Strategy Tactics & Calculation Training & Psychology

How to Play Chess: Setting Up the Chessboard

How to Play Chess: Setting Up the Chessboard

Unlock the world of chess with our comprehensive guide! From setting up the chessboard to mastering piece movements, learn how to play this captivating game of strategy and intellect.

Setting Up the Chessboard

The first thing you need to play chess is to learn how to set up the chessboard.

How to play chess: Setting up the chessboard
Starting position on the chessboard

In every chess game, White always makes the first move. Each side initially starts with sixteen pieces. These 16 pieces are grouped according to their names which are:

  • Pawns
  • Knights
  • Bishops
  • Queens
  • Kings
  • Rooks

Now we are going to play, we will take a look at all the chess pieces in great depth and how they move on the chessboard. It is exciting to be a beginner because chess basics are always easy to understand. ☺

How to Play chess with Pawns (The Most Versatile Chess Pieces)

How to play chess: Pawns on the chessboard

If you already know enough about pawns and how to play with them in chess, you can take a step further by learning 3 Tips on How to Use Pawns in Chess.

A chess pawn is worth one point. Each side initially starts with eight pawns. First, we start with white pawns. The white pawns can be found on the second rank. The black pawns can be found on the seventh rank.

Movement

How to move a pawn in chess

Pawns are the only pieces that can never move backward. The first time a pawn moves from its initial rank, it has the option to either move one square ahead or two squares. Then, after that, it can only advance one square at a time.

In a game played by beginners, who are just learning how to play chess, is very usual to see pawn races!

Capturing

How to play chess: Capturing with a pawn
Except for the pawn moving straight, we have another direction it takes when capturing. A pawn cannot capture in the same direction (capturing the knight on d4). Rather it captures diagonally. We have an example of how it captures on the board above. By the way, this pawn is executing a double attack.

This means that the pawn on d5 can either capture the rook on e4 or it can capture the rook on c4.

En Passant

How to play chess: Capturing with a pawn en passantMany people learn how to play chess but never learn this special move.

In the case ofΒ  White executing an en passant (the french word “in passing”), the capturing white pawn must be on its fifth rank.

The threatened black pawn must have moved two squares from its starting square, and be on an adjacent file (pawn from c7 to c5).

The capture can only be made on the move immediately after the opposing pawn makes the move.

If all these conditions have been met, the threatened pawn can be removed as if the pawn had moved only one square.

So, if White has a pawn on d5, and Black’s c-pawn advances from c7 to c5; White may capture Black’s c-pawn, and White’s pawn will move to c6.

In the case of Black executing an en passant, the capturing black pawn must be on its fourth rank.

The threatened white pawn must have moved two squares from its starting square, and be on an adjacent file.

Promotion

How to play chess: Promoting a pawn
A new queen can come to the chessboard!

When you are a beginner learning how to play chess, this fascinating idea obsesses you. ☺

A pawn that advances to the opposite side of the board (the opposing player’s first rank) is promoted to another piece of that player’s choice.

These pieces are namely:

  • a queen,
  • a rook,
  • a bishop,
  • a knight

The pawn is immediately (before the opponent’s next move) replaced by the new piece. The white pawn on f7 will promote when it reaches f8.

If Black had a pawn on c2, then it would be promoted when it reaches c1.

How to Play chess with a Rook (The Easiest Chess Piece

to Play)

How to play chess: Rooks on the chessboard

If you already know the basics of chess play and how to move the rook, you can skip this section and begin to learn how to use your rooks effectively.

A chess rook is worth 5 points. Each side initially starts with twoΒ rooks. The following is a list of rules and principles that apply to rooks in a chess game.

The white rooks can be found on the first rank, either on the a1 or h1-squares.

The black rooks can be found on the eighth rank, either on the a8 or h8-squares.

Movement

How to move the rook in chess

Rooks can move in a straight line direction. It has no limits to the number of squares it can move to, as long no pieces obstruct its path. This simply means that rooks cannot skip other pieces that are in front of them.

Rooks can perform a special move called castling, which involves the king. The rules on castling and how to castle can be found below on the heading concerning “The KING”.

Capturing

How to play chess: Capturing with a rook

A rook can capture in the same direction as it moves. This means that if there are pieces on a5, g5, e2, and e8; it can capture any of those pieces, as long as it’s Black’s turn to play.

How to Play chess with a Knight (The Funniest Chess Piece)

How to play chess: Knights on the chessboard

The knight is the most enjoyable piece for anybody who learns how to play chess. The way the knight moves can be considered both fun and unpredictable.

A knight is worth three points. Each side initially starts with two knights. The white knights can be found on the first rank, either on the b1 or g1-squares.

The black knights can be found on the eighth rank, either on the b8 or g8-squares.

Movement

How to move the knight in chess

A knight moves in an β€œL” shape. This means it can move two squares vertically and one square horizontally, or two squares horizontally, and one square vertically.

A knight can have a maximum of eight squares to potentially move to.

Some knight attacks come totally as a surprise and that is why you need to know the lethal knight forks!

Capturing

A knight can capture in the same direction as it moves. This means that if there are pieces on c2, e2, f3, f5, e6, c6, b5, and b3; it can capture all those pieces.

 

A knight is the only piece that’s capable of jumping other pieces. In the example above, even though there are pawns ahead of it, it’s able to jump them to either f3 or h3.

How to Play chess with a Bishop

How to play chess: Bishops on the chessboard

When you play chess and progress, you begin to notice that not all the pieces are equal. Bishops and knights are minor pieces and their influence in the chess game is huge.

A chess bishop is worth threeΒ points. Each side initially starts with two bishops.

The white bishops are on the first rank, either on the c1 or f1-squares.

The black bishops are on the eighth rank, either on the c8 or f8-squares.

Movement

How to move a bishop in chess

Bishops can move in any direction as long as it’s diagonal. It has no limits to the number of squares it can move to, as long no pieces obstruct its path.

A bishop that initially starts on a light square, can only move on light squares.

A bishop that initially starts on a dark square, can only move on dark squares.

Capturing

How to play chess: Capturing with a bishop

A bishop can capture in the same direction as it moves. This means that if there are pieces on b1, g2, h7, and a8; it can capture any of those pieces as long as it’s Black’s turn to play.

How to Play chess with the Queen (The Most Powerful Chess Piece)

Queens on the chessboard

It’s very common to get mad with the power of the queen when you learn how to play chess. ☺

A chess queen is worth 9 points, making it the most powerful piece on the board. Each side initially starts with one queen, but you can get more if you manage to promote a pawn.

The white queen it’s in the first rank on the d1-square. The black queen it’s in the eighth rank on the d8-square. To make it simple, when setting up pieces on a chessboard, each queen should be placed in a square that is of the same color as the piece.

Movement

queen in chess

Queens can move in any direction as long as it’s diagonal, horizontally, or vertically.

It has no limits to the number of squares it can move to, as long no pieces obstruct its path.

This also means that a queen has the combined power of a rook and a bishop.

Capturing

Capturing with a queenA queen can capture in the same direction as it moves (horizontally, diagonally, and vertically).

This means that if there are pieces on h1, h4, h7, e8, a4, or b1; it can capture any of those pieces, as long as it’s white’s turn to play.

A very advanced technique ―which says you are becoming a real chess pro― is to sacrifice your queen! To learn it, be sure to watch the 5 Greatest Queen Sacrifices of All Time.

How to Play chess with the King (The Most Important Chess Piece)

Kings on the chessboard

A king doesn’t have points, but rather it is the MOST important piece in chess. A king is the only piece that cannot be captured. This means that if a king is captured then the game is over.

When you are teaching someone how to play chess, be sure to make them learn this by heart! ☺

Each side initially starts with one king. The white king it’s on e1-square.

The black king it’s on e8.

Movement

How to move the king in chess

A chess king can only move one square in any direction (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally).

Capturing

Capturing with the king

A king can capture in the same direction as it moves. This means that if there are pieces on e3, f3, and f4; it can capture any of those pieces, as long as it’s Black’s turn to play.

The king cannot capture a protected piece

It’s illegal that the king captures a protected piece.

White’s king cannot capture the bishop on d5 because it’s defending him.

Castling

Castling
Castling is a special king move!

Kings can perform a special move called castling, which involves the rook. The whole plan behind castling is to protect the king and activate the rook.

It isΒ  illegal to castle under the following:

  • If the king or rook has moved before castling.
  • When the king is under a check.
  • If the king will pass through a check when castling.
  • When the king will land on a checked square.

Castling comes in two flavors. You can castle either on the kingside or the queenside, and there are some tips which tell you which side is the best to castle.

Conclusion about How to Play Chess

Chess is a fun and competitive game filled with endless variations and moves to play.

The game of chess has three stages: The opening, the middle game, and the endgame.

While you have to implicate different tactics and strategies in each stage, what doesn’t change are the rules that each piece comes with.

You already know the basics of how to play chess. GM Igor Smirnov invites you to start your journey under his guidance. We offer tons of chess lessons and very comprehensive chess courses.

The next lesson you could take is about the opening, the first stage of the game. So, I recommend you to read here What is the Best Chess Opening for Beginners.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want GM Igor Smirnov to help you get better at chess, watch this Masterclass.

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