Basic Chess Rules

Basic To Advanced Play


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Board Set-Up
Above is the correct way to set up the chess board. Make sure the bottom right-hand corner is always a white square. White Queen sits on a white square while the Black Queen sits on a dark square.
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First Move
White always moves first and players alternate turns. You are only allowed to move one piece per turn except when castling.
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Pieces attack in the direction they move except for the pawn. A pawn attacks diagonally even though it moves forward. Above the White Pawn is attacking the Black Pawn highlighted in green. The White Knight is attacking the Black Bishop highlighted in green.


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Pawn Movement
The first time you move a Pawn you may move one square or two squares forward. After you have moved a Pawn it may only move one square forward.
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Rook Movement
The Rook may move side to side, forward or backward all the way across the chess board.
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Bishop Movement
The Bishops may only move diagonally across the chess board. You begin the game with a light square bishop and a dark square bishop.
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Knight Movement
The Knight is the only piece that can jump over pieces. This piece moves one square up or down and two squares over, or two squares over and one square up or down in any direction.
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Queen Movement
The Queen may move in any direction; side to side, forward, backward, or diagonally across the chess board.
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King Movement
The King may move one square in any direction, side to side, forward, backward or diagonally. The King may never move to a square next to the opponent’s King.
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If desired on your turn, you may remove a piece you are attacking and replace it with your own. In the above example, the highlighted White Bishop is attacking the highlighted Black Bishop. The Black Bishop is removed from the board and the White Bishop replaces it.


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Pawn Promotion
Move a pawn all the way across the chess board to the other side and you may promote it to either a Queen, Rook, Knight or Bishop.
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In one move you may move your king 2 squares left or right and place one Rook on the opposite side of the King. Castling is only allowed if you haven’t moved your king or rook yet, you are not in check, and you do not move through check.

In the above example the white king just castled.
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En Passant
Move one pawn 2 spaces forward passing your opponents pawn. Your opponent then has the option to capture your pawn on the next move.

In the above example black just pushed a pawn 2 spaces forward past white’s pawn line of attack. On White’s next move it recaptures the pawn.
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Check is when your piece is attacking your opponents King. In the above example the White Bishop has the Black King in Check.
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Checkmate is when you put the King in check and he cannot block, capture or escape. In the above example Black has checkmated the White Queen.
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If a player has no legal moves to make then the game is ended resulting in a tied game. In the above image White is not in check and has no squares to move to so the game is a draw.


Chess games may be written down using notation. The numbers (known as ranks) and letters (known as files) let you know the location of each of the 64 squares on the chess board.

When you know the location of the chess square you combine that with the piece you are moving to write down the move. Use the abbreviations below to record your moves.
  • K = King
  • Q = Queen
  • R = Rook
  • B = Bishop
  • N = K(N)ight
  • a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h = pawns
  • 0-0 = King side castle
  • 0-0-0 = Queen side castle
  • e.p. = En Passant ex. dxc3 e.p.
  • x = capture ex. Qxd4
  • =Q = Pawn Promotion ex. cxb1=Q
  • + = check
  • # = checkmate


Touch Move

If you touch a piece you have to move it, as long as it is a legal move. If you accidentally touch your opponents piece you have to capture it if you can.

Time Rules

Set your chess clock for desired length of game. Black decides on which side to place the clock and starts the clock. White moves first and presses the clock and players alternate turns. Each pressing the clock after a move. Player to checkmate their opponent wins or player that runs out of time loses the game.

Illegal Moves
If you move your piece incorrectly, or you move a piece when your King is in check, and he remains in check, this is considered an illegal move.

If an illegal move has been made, go back to the move that put the King in check, and make a legal move if possible with the piece you touched before making an illegal move.
Before the start of the game and after the game is finished players shake hands. During a serious game it is common etiquette not to talk during the game unless you are offering a draw. Once a draw is offered do not continue to offer a draw.