The Special Rules Of Conventional Chess
There are a few special rules in chess that may not seem logical at first. They were created to make the game more fun and interesting.
How to Promote a Pawn in Chess: Pawns have another special ability and that is that if a pawn reaches the other side of the board it can become any other chess piece (called promotion). A pawn may be promoted to any piece. A common misconception is that pawns may only be exchanged for a piece that has been captured. That is NOT true. A pawn is usually promoted to a queen. Only pawns may be promoted.
How to do “en passant” in Chess: The last rule about pawns is called “en passant,” which is French for “in passing”. If a pawn moves out two squares on its first move, and by doing so lands to the side of an opponent’s pawn (effectively jumping past the other pawn’s ability to capture it), that other pawn has the option of capturing the first pawn as it passes by. This special move must be done immediately after the first pawn has moved past, otherwise the option to capture it is no longer available. Click through the example below to better understand this odd, but important rule.
How to Castle in Chess: One other special chess rule is called castling. This move allows you to do two important things all in one move: get your king to safety (hopefully), and get your rook out of the corner and into the game. On a player’s turn he may move his king two squares over to one side and then move the rook from that side’s corner to right next to the king on the opposite side. (See the example below.) However, in order to castle, the following conditions must be met:
- it must be that king’s very first move
- it must be that rook’s very first move
- there cannot be any pieces between the king and rook to move
- the king may not be in check or pass through check
Notice that when you castle one direction the king is closer to the side of the board. That is called castling “kingside”. Castling to the other side, through where the queen sat, is called castling “queenside”. Regardless of which side, the king always moves only two squares when castling.
Who Makes the First Move in Chess: The player with the white pieces always moves first. Therefore, players generally decide who will get to be white by chance or luck such as flipping a coin or having one player guess the color of the hidden pawn in the other player’s hand. White then makes a move, followed by black, then white again, then black and so on until the end of the game. Being able to move first is a tiny advantage which gives the white player an opportunity to attack right away.
Review the Rules of How to Win a Game of Chess
There are two ways to end a game of chess: by checkmate, or with a draw.
How to Checkmate in Chess: The purpose of the game is to checkmate the opponent’s king. This happens when the king is put into check and cannot get out of check. There are only three ways a king can get out of check: move out of the way (though he cannot castle!), block the check with another piece, or capture the piece threatening the king. If a king cannot escape checkmate then the game is over. Customarily the king is not captured or removed from the board, the game is simply declared over.
How to Draw a Chess Game: Occasionally chess games do not end with a winner, but with a draw. There are 5 reasons why a chess game may end in a draw:
- The position reaches a stalemate where it is one player’s turn to move, but his king is NOT in check and yet he does not have another legal move
- The players may simply agree to a draw and stop playing
- There are not enough pieces on the board to force a checkmate (example: a king and a bishop vs.a king)
- A player declares a draw if the same exact position is repeated three times (though not necessarily three times in a row)
- Fifty consecutive moves have been played where neither player has moved a pawn or captured a piece
Study Basic Chess Strategies
There are four simple things that every chess player should know:
Protect your King: Get your king to the corner of the board where he is usually safer. Don’t put off castling. You should usually castle as quickly as possible. Remember, it doesn’t matter how close you are to checkmating your opponent if your own king is checkmated first!
Don’t Give Pieces Away: Don’t carelessly lose your pieces! Each piece is valuable and you can’t win a game without pieces to checkmate. There is an easy system that most players use to keep track of the relative value of each chess piece. How much are the chess pieces worth?
- A pawn is worth 1
- A knight is worth 3
- A bishop is worth 3
- A rook is worth 5
- A queen is worth 9
- The king is infinitely valuable
At the end of the game these points don’t mean anything – it is simply a system you can use to make decisions while playing, helping you know when to capture, exchange, or make other moves.
Study Basic Chess Strategies
Control the Center of the Chessboard: You should try and control the center of the board with your pieces and pawns. If you control the center, you will have more room to move your pieces and will make it harder for your opponent to find good squares for his pieces. In the example above white makes good moves to control the center while black plays bad moves.
Use All of your Chess Pieces: In the example above white got all of his pieces in the game! Your pieces don’t do any good when they are sitting back on the first row. Try and develop all of your pieces so that you have more to use when you attack the king. Using one or two pieces to attack will not work against any decent opponent.
Practice by Playing Lots of Games: The most important thing you can do to get better at chess is to play lots of chess! It doesn’t matter if you play at home with friends or family, or play online, you have to play the game a lot to improve. These days it’s easy to find a game of chess online! Click here for where to play chess.
How to Play Chess Variants: While most people play standard chess rules, some people like to play chess with changes to the rules. These are called “chess variants”. Each variant has its own rules.
How to Play Chess960: Chess960 follows all the rules of standard chess, except for the starting position of pieces on the back rank, which are placed randomly in one of 960 possible positions. Castling is done just like in standard chess, with the King and Rook landing on their normal castled squares (g1 and f1, or c1 and d1). 960 plays just like standard chess, but with more variety in the opening.
How to Play with Chess Tournament Rules: Many tournaments follow a set of common, similar rules. These rules do not necessarily apply to play at home or online, but you may want to practice with them anyway.
Touch-move – If a player touches one of their own pieces they must move that piece as long as it is a legal move. If a player touches an opponent’s piece, they must capture that piece. A player who wishes to touch a piece only to adjust it on the board must first announce the intention, usually by saying “adjust”.
Clocks and Timers – Most tournaments use timers to regulate the time spent on each game, not on each move. Each player gets the same amount of time to use for their entire game and can decide how to spend that time. Once a player makes a move they then touch a button or hit a lever to start the opponent’s clock. If a player runs out of time and the opponent calls the time, then the player who ran out of time loses the game (unless the opponent does not have enough pieces to checkmate, in which case it is a draw).
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