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Lesson 1 - Before Starting The Game: Board

and Pieces
Playing chess requires a chessboard and a chess set containing 32 pieces. In this first lesson, I
will explain the chessboard, the pieces and their relationship.
Here is the plan I propose for this lesson:
1. Board and pieces
2. Starting Position, Wings and Center
3. Exercises
4. Solutions to the exercises
Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 1 - Before Starting The Game: Board and Pieces

The chessboard
The chessboard is a board made of 64 squares configured in 8 rows and 8 columns. The squares
are arranged in 2 contrasted colors : one being dark and the other being light. Here is an example
of a chessboard:

Diagram 1.1 - The Chessboard


The chessboard is the battleground of a chess game. By looking at the image above, we can
already see that it can be divided in several parts. We already mentioned rows and columns but
there are also the diagonals. In the chess world, we usually use the term "rank" when referring to
a row and "file" when referring to a column. These three entities are really important for
elaborating strategies. At the elite level, the players will often do anything they can to control a

specific file, rank or diagonal. There will even have a ferocious battle just to control a simple
square on the board!

Diagram 1.2 - Rank, File and Diagonal


We identify the different ranks with numbers from 1 to 8. Thus, the bottom rank is called "1",
the following going up is called "2" until we reach the top rank which is called "8". For the files,
we use letters from "a" to "h" as their identifiers. The first file to the left is then called "a", the
following to the right is called "b" until we reach the rightmost column which is called "h". To
identify diagonals, we use another system which will be discussed later.

Diagram 1.3 - Identifying Ranks and Files


Squares are also pretty important on the chessboard. They are a potential "home" for the pieces
and they are important enough to have a unique name associated to them. Their name is built
from the position in the chessboard using the intersection of the rank and file they occupy. The
first rank is then containing squares a1, b1, c1, d1, e1, f1, g1 et h1. The second rank is
containing squares a2, b2, c2, d2, e2, f2, g2 et h2, and so on until the last 8th rank...
Please refer to the following diagram to get the name of all the squares:

Diagram 1.4 - Algebraic description

The pieces
We already know that the chessboard contains 64 squares. Half of them, 32 squares, are
occupied by the pieces at the beginning of the game. Both players have 16 pieces. Usually, we
define both "armies" as being White and Black. Note that some chess sets, the pieces are not
white or black. We can find red or light brown to represent White pieces and dark brown to
represent Black. Generally, we used the lighter colour for the White army. From the 16 pieces
owned by a player, 8 of them, the smaller ones, are called "pawns" and the others are called
"figures" There are 5 different figures: the bishops, the knights, the rook, the Queen and the
King. Lets see what they look like:
The pawn: each player owns 8 pawns at the beginning of the game.
The bishop: each player owns 2 bishops at the beginning of the game.
The knight: each player owns 2 knights at the beginning of the game.
The rook: each player owns 2 rooks at the beginning of the game.
The queen: each player owns only one queen at the beginning of the game.
The king: each player owns only one king during the entire game.

Lesson 1 - Before Starting The Game:


Starting Position, Wings and Center
We now know a little more about the chess pieces and the chessboard, but that is not enough
though... before thinking about playing a game, we need to know how to setup the board and
pieces correctly!
Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 1 - Before Starting The Game: Starting Position, Wings and Center

The Starting Position


Before starting a game, we need to learn how to place the pieces on the board... but first of all,
we have to ensure the board is on the right side: the bottom left square of the first rank facing
each player must be dark. Then, all the pawns are placed on the second rank facing each player
(rank 2 for White and rank 7 for black). After that, the king and queen go in the center and then
follow the bishops, the knights and to finish, the rook on the last columns (a and h). But back to
the kings and queens... should we place the queen on the right or left side? Well, she goes on the
left side for White and right side for Black (supposing each player is behind his pieces). But if
you want a trick to remember where the queens go, they always occupy the square of the same
color then their own. So the white queen goes on the ligth square and the black queen on the dark
square. The Kings occupy the other square available in the center. Here is the starting position:

Diagram 1.5 - Starting Position


There is a convention in chess books and online sites that goes like this: unless stated otherwise,
all chess diagrams have White side on the bottom and Black on top. So please keep that in mind
while surfing through the site.

The Wings And The Center

Other important concepts in chess are the wings and the center. Intermediate and advanced
players know well the importance of these zones. The center is defined by the d4, d5, e4 and e5
squares. These squares are the ones seeing the most activity during a game: the 2 longest
diagonales, the 2 central columns and ranks go right through them. So a lot of activities happen
in the center. The player who will succeed in controling the center will then obtain an advantage
over his opponent (we will see in other lessons that his opponent can have compensation in other
aspect of the game though). In the below diagram, the center is represented by the blue squares:

Diagram 1.6 - The Center


Aside from the center, the chessboard has also 2 wings: the queenside and the kingside. The
queenside is composed of the 4 columns starting with the column the queen is sitting at the
beginning of the game and ending with the side of the board (to the left for White or to the right
for black). So the columns a, b, c and d are in the queenside. The kingside are the other 4
columns starting with the column the king occupies at the beginning of the game and ending with
the side of the board (right side for White and left side for Black). Columns e, f, g and h are part
of the kingside. The chessboard is then divided vertically by 2 zones as we can see in the
diagram below:

Diagram 1.7 - The Wings

Once again, wings are important when building strategies. Depending on how the pieces are
deployed on the chessboard during a game, the players will try to take more space on the king or
the queensides. We will learn more about that in other lessons.

Lesson 1 - Before Starting The Game:


Exercises
Even though exercises are not required, I recommend working on them. They will help you
grasp and practice the things you learn from the lessons more efficiently. You can certainly go
back and sneak in the previous pages... but try first to answer the questions without going back.
By doing so, you will make your memory work a bit and it is a pretty good thing to keep the
memory working if you want to become a good chess player. When you are done, you can use
the Verify button to see you results. If you want to do the exercises all over again, use the button
Do it again.

Questions
1.

How many pawns each player has at the beginning of the game?

2.

Which color the bottom-left square must be when preparing the chessboard before the
game?
Light
Dark

3.

Give the name of the squares identified in this chessboard:


a) blue square
b) red square
c) black square
d) yellow square

e) purple square
4.

What are the center squares?

5.

a) What are the kingside's columns?


b) What are the queenside's columns?

6.

Associate the pieces with their name by using the number you fill find beside the
image:
a) the king
b) the bishop
c) the pawn
d) the queen
e) the knight
f) the rook

7.

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Please indicate the starting square of the following pieces:


a) white queen?
b) black kingside bishop?
c) black queenside rook?
d) white pawn in front of
the king?
e) white kingside knight?
f) black queen?
g) black king?
h) black pawn in front of
the kingside rook?

i) white king?
j) white queenside bishop ?

Lesson 2 - How The Pieces Move: General


Rules
Here is the plan I propose for this lesson:
1. General Rules
2. The Pawns
3. The Bishops
4. The Knights
5. The Rooks
6. The Queen
7. The King
8. Summing Up
9. Exercises
10. Solutions to the exercises
Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 2 - How The Pieces Move: General Rules

Ok, so now we have a battle field and 2 armies ready to have some action... but do we know how
to handle them? Do we know the forces and weaknesses of our soldiers?
In this lesson, we will study the pieces' characteristics and the way they move. We will learn the
good and bad things about each piece which will bring some basic strategy ideas. At the end of
the lesson, you will be able to work on practical exercises so you can rapidly master the subject
discussed in this lesson.

How The Pieces Move: general rules


There are some rules fitting to all pieces. When they move, they can occupy en empty square or
capture an enemy piece occupying an available square. When a piece is being captured, it is

withdrawn from the board. We will see later that the king is the only piece that cannot be
captured. Also, all pieces is forbidden to jump over other pieces (friends of foes), except for the
knights. If a piece cannot move because of another one being in its path, we called it a "blocked"
piece. Blocking our opponent's pieces is a useful strategy sometimes as an efficient development
scheme can be difficult to reach in that case.
Lesson 2 - How The Pieces Move: The Pawns
"The Pawns: They are the very Life of this Game."
- Francois-Andre Danican Philidor

If you did not go through the page explaining the general rules for moving pieces, I recommend
that you do so before continuing.

Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 2 - How The Pieces Move: The Pawns

Moving Pawns

The pawns are the soldiers we send to the frontline in order to get some space behind for the
heavy artillery... they are usually the first to see some action! They are authorized to advance
forward on their column only. They cannot go backward. This explains the reason why grandmasters take a lot of time and consideration prior to execute a pawn move. Pawns are moving
one square at a time but they are authorized (but not required to) to advance 2 squares on the first
time they are being moved. The following diagram shows the possible pawn moves:

Diagram 2.1 - Moving Pawns

Pawns are the only piece to have a different way of capturing enemy pieces than their basic
move. Pawns can capture enemy pieces occupying one of the two immediate diagonal squares
(left or right) in front of them:

Diagram 2.2 - Pawn Captures

In the example below, it is White to move. The pawn occupying the d4 square (in the chess
world, we say "the d4 pawn") is currently blocked by the black pawn on d5. However, the d4
pawn can take the e5 pawn because it is occupying one of the 2 diagonal squares controled by
the d4 pawn: c5 and e5. Note also that if it was Black's turn to play, he would have the possibility
to capture White's d4 pawn with his e5 pawn. In that case, White could then recapture Black's
pawn by using his e3 pawn (the e3 pawn controls the d4 square thus protecting the d4 pawn).

Diagram 2.3 - Example Of a Pawn Capture


The "en passant" Capture

"En passant" is a French term meaning "by passing" that is internationaly accepted and used in
the chess world. This term is used for a rule concerning a special pawn capture that could be
apply when a "courageous" pawn just crossed the middle of the board and is occupying the first

rank in the enemy territory. The "en passant" capture will be possible if an enemy pawn is still
occupying its starting square (lets call it the "coward"...) on one of the adjacent columns
occupied by the courageous pawn (as we can see in the diagram below).

Diagram 2.4 - En Passant Capture

If we look carefuly at the diagram, we can see that the white pawn is far enough to stop the
coward black pawn from advancing one square forward without being captured. We know
cowards have more than one solution to a problem, so they might decide to advance 2 squares
forward, since they are still occupying their starting square, and escape from the courageous
white pawn. This is where the "en passant" capture kicked in... in this specific scenario, the
courageous pawn can capture the coward pawn as if it has advanced one square. So, if the black
pawn tries to escape in e5 in the the example above, White could decide to capture the pawn as if
it was on e6. In this case, the e5 pawn will be removed from the board and the white pawn will
occupy the e6 square. See it by yourself using the links below:

The coward black pawn tries to escape by advancing 2 squares

But it will not go far! The courageous white pawn can capture it anyway "en
passant"!

The "en passant" capture is optional: it might happen that the position is not favourable for a
courageous pawn to capture the coward pawn. So it is better sometimes to let it escape. But if a
player wants to do the capture, he must do it on the very next move after the opponent advanced
the pawn on the adjacent column 2 squares forward. Otherwise, the coward pawn will be free to
go for the rest of the game...

Lesson 2 - How The Pieces Move: The


Bishops
"The future belongs to he who has the bishops."
- Siegbert Tarrasch
If you did not go through the page explaining the general rules for moving pieces, I recommend
that you do so before continuing.

Moving Bishops
The bishop is a long-range piece: he can move one or several squares, forward or backward. He
is moving on diagonals only. Thus, it means that the bishop will always move and capture on
only one color on the chessboard which is the color of its starting square.

Diagram 2.5 - Moving the Bishop


The bishop can capture the first enemy piece encountered on its path. Since the bishop cannot
jump over other pieces, it is blocked when there is another piece (friend of foe) on its path.
In the diagram below, the white bishop can capture 2 pieces: the g7 pawn and the f2 knight. Note
that the bishop cannot capture the pawn on a7, even if it is on its diagonal, since it is blocked by
a friend pawn on c5.

Diagram 2.6 - Captures by a Bishop

Lesson 2 - How The Pieces Move: The


Knights
"I have added these principles to the law: get the Knights into action before both bishops are
developed." - Emanuel Lasker

If you did not go through the page explaining the general rules for moving pieces, I recommend
that you do so before continuing.

Moving Knights
The knight is a short-range weapon: it does not have the possibility to cross the chessboard in
one move like the bishop (and also the rook and the queen as we will see later). However, the
knight has an advantage over the bishop: it can jump over other pieces. Knights gait is kind of
awkward. They are moving by doing an "L" shape. The "L" is composed of 4 squares configured
as a 3 + 1 formation vertically or horizontaly and in any direction. The knight can also go
backward.

Diagram 2.7 - Moving the Knight


As we can see in the diagram above, the knight always finishes its course on a square having the
opposite color of the starting square. That means knights can control both colors on the
chessboard.
Knights can capture enemy pieces occupying any destination squares it can reach on his turn to
move. In the following diagram, the knight can capture 2 pieces: the c4 pawn and the bishop on
f3. Note that the c6 square is not available for the knight since a friend pawn occupies it.

Diagram 2.8 - Captures by a Knight

Lesson 2 - How The Pieces Move: The Rooks


"The only good Rook is a working Rook!"
- Samuel Reshevsky
If you did not go through the page explaining the general rules for moving pieces, I recommend
that you do so before continuing.

Moving Rooks
Rooks can be qualified as being "heavy artilleries". Indeed, they move in a straight line,
horizontally or vertically and for an unlimited number of squares, giving them the possibility to
cross the board in one move and control both colors on the chessboard.

Diagram 2.9 - Moving the Rook


While moving, the rook must go in one direction only: up, down, left or right. Since it cannot
jump over other pieces, the rook is blocked when there is another piece (friend of foe) on its
path.
The rook can capture the first piece being on its path in any direction. In the example below, the
rook can capture either the pawn on d6 or the knight on a4. Note that if it takes the pawn, black
would be able to capture the rook after with the pawn on e7 (protecting its friend on d6). The
knight does not have the same luck... so the White player would do an excellent move by
capturing it!

Diagram 2.10 - Capture by a Rook


We can also note that the rook is blocked by his pawn on e4, meaning that it cannot move to its
right. However, it can go backward (on d3, d2 or d1), forward (on d5 or capturing on d6) or go to
its left (on c4, b4 or capturing on a4). Even if a square is not occupied, you have to be careful
before moving your piece: the spot could look free and safe, but ensure that it is not controled by
an enemy piece... in the diagram above, the rook could indeed occupy the b4 square, but if we
look closely at the position, we can see that Black's a5 pawn is lurking this square (pawns
capture pieces sitting on the first diagonal square in front of them)! Playing the rook on b4 would
then be a bad move for White since they will loose it for nothing.

Lesson 2 - How The Pieces Move: The Queen


"Do not bring your Queen out too early."
- from Francisco Bernardina Calogno's poem On the Game of Chess
If you did not go through the page explaining the general rules for moving pieces, I recommend
that you do so before continuing.
Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 2 - How The Pieces Move: The Queen

The Queen
The Queen is the other piece pertaining to the "heavy artilleries" group. Its gait combines the
moving particularities of bishops and rooks. Thus it means that it moves on diagonal, horizontal
and vertical lines. Also, like the bishop and rook, it can move for an unlimited number of
squares allowing it to cross the board in one move and control both colors on the chessboard.

Diagram 2.11 - Moving the Queen


Since it cannot jump over other pieces, the Queen is blocked when there is another piece (friend
of foe) on its path. As we can see on the diagram above, the Queen is the most polyvalent and
unpredictablela pieces on the chessboard. This qualifies it as being the most powerful piece of
the game.
We can also note that the Queen is at its best when it occupies the center of the board. From the
diagram 2.11 above, if we count all the squares that the Queen controls (meaning the square that
it can access) on an open board when it is on e4, d4, e5 or d5, you will get 27 squares. However,
on its starting square (d8), it controls a bit less with 21 squares. But even there, the queen
controls almost the third of the board!

Diagram 2.12 - The Queen on d8 controls 21 squares


The Queen can capture the first enemy piece that it encounters on its path in any direction. What
makes the Queen so unpredictable, is that it has access to a lot of squares when moving, thus
allowing it to jump on a square with several opportunities to threaten several enemy pieces at the
same time. In the following diagram, the White Queen is not threatening to capture any piece at
the moment. However, if it moves on the f5 square, it will be attacking three pieces: the bishop,
the rook and the knight. The Black player will not be able to protect all of them so he will be
forced to loose one of them.

Click here to see all the threats with the Queen on f5.

Diagram 2.13 - The queen so unpredictable

The action of attacking several pieces at the same time, like the Queen is doing above, is called a
"fork".

Lesson 2 - How The Pieces Move: The King


"The king, which during the opening and middlegame stage is often a burden because it has
to be defended, becomes in the endgame a very important and aggressive piece, and the
beginner should realize this, and utilize its king as much as possible."
- Jose Raul Capablanca
If you did not go through the page explaining the general rules for moving pieces, I recommend
that you do so before continuing.
Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 2 - How The Pieces Move: The King

The King
Ah... here we are: let's talk about the monarch! The king is the most important piece in chess.
We will see later in the lesson on the basic rules that the game is over when the King cannot
protect himself from a capture. It is then of the upmost importance to give him great carefulness
if we do not want to loose the game.
The King is moving like the Queen, with the difference that it can reach only one square at a
time. Therefore, it can move on any square around him (provided that the square is not occupied
by one of its own piece or that the square is not controlled by an enemy piece... we will see all
the conditions in details in lesson 4). White and Black kings can never be face to face in a game

of chess: at least one square must separate them. It is logical since if a King advances on any
square adjacent the other King, the opponent will have the first opportunity to do the capture... so
it does not make sense to allow such a move in the first place.

Diagram 2.14 - Moving the King


The King cannot jump over other pieces. Also, since it is so vulnerable to attacks, it will not be
used at the beginning of the game. Wise players are using their king only in the endgame when
several pieces are removed from the battlefield.
Both players can also use a special move involving the King: the "castle" (we can say also
castling). We will discuss this special move in lesson 5 where we will study the advanced rules.
As it is the case for the Queen, the King deploys its best action when occupying the center of the
board. We can see in the diagram below that it controls 8 squares in the center, 5 squares on the
edge and 3 squares in a corner (controlled squares are colored in blue).

Diagram 2.15 - Controlled squares by a King from different locations


The King can capture enemy pieces occupying a square directly around him. However, as we
will see in lesson 4, it cannot capture an enemy piece when it is protected as one of the rules
sates that a player cannot allow his King to be captured.

Lesson 2 - How The Pieces Move: Summing Up


"I started by just sitting by the chessboard exploring things. I didnt even
have books at first, and I just played by myself. I learnt a lot from that,
and I feel that it is a big reason why I now have a good intuitive
understanding of chess."
- Magnus Carlsen

Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 2 - How The Pieces Move: Summing Up

Summing Up

Since we covered a lot of things in this lesson, let's review the main points.
The Pawn

it advances on a column except when capturing;

on its first move, it can advance 1 or 2 squares;

on any other moves, it can advance only 1 square at a time;

it can capture enemy pieces occupying one of the diagonal square in front of
it;

it cannot move or capture backward;

when occupying the first rank in the enemy's territory, it can do a special
capture called "prise en passant" which consist of capturing an enemy pawn
on an adjacent column moving 2 squares on its first move.

The Bishop

it moves on diagonals in an unlimited number of squares or until a piece is


blocking the way;

it moves forward or backward;

it can capture the first enemy piece on its path;

it has access to half of the board since it moves on squares having the same
colour as its starting square.

The Knight

it moves in a "L" shape;

it moves forward or backward;

it's the only piece allowed to jump over other pieces;

it can capture pieces occupying one of the landing square when moving.

The rook

it moves in straight lines, horizontally or vertically in an unlimited number of


squares or until a piece is blocking the way;

it moves forward or backward;

it can capture the first enemy piece on its path.

The Queen

it moves in an unlimited number of squares in any direction (diagonally,


horizontally or vertically) or until a piece is blocking the way;

it moves forward or backward;

it can capture the first enemy piece on its path.

The King

it moves one square at a time on any square around him not occupied by one
of its teammates or controlled by an enemy piece;

it moves forward or backward;

it can capture unprotected enemy pieces occupying a square around him.

When analysing the diversity in the way the different pieces move, it is easy to see that pieces
have different impacts on the course of the game, thus giving them different values. Base on that,
we can classify the pieces in four different categories: pawns, minor pieces, major (or heavy)
pieces and the King. Pawns are classified in their own category because of their limited
possibilities. The King is alone in its category because it is the ultimate target of the opponent's
army. Minor pieces are the bishops and the knights. The bishop pertains to this category because
it can control only one colour and the knight because of its short reach. Major or heavy pieces
are the rooks and the Queen. Each of them can control both colors on the board and move in an
unlimited number of squares.
In chess literature, the terms "minor pieces" or "major pieces (or heavy pieces)" are used often.
Let's see if you grasped everything with the exercises available on the next page.

Lesson 2 - How The Pieces Move: Exercises


Even though exercises are not required, I recommend working on them. They will help you
grasp and practice the things you learn from the lessons more efficiently. You can certainly go
back and sneak in the previous pages... but try first to answer the questions without going back.
By doing so, you will make your memory work a bit and it is a pretty good thing to keep the
memory working if you want to become a good chess player.
Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 2 - How The Pieces Move: Exercises

To answer the questions, use the first letter of each piece to identify them, except for the
knight for which you must use the letter "n". For example, if you think that "pawns" is the
answer, use the letter "p". When you are done, you can use the Verify button to see you results. If
you want to do the exercises all over again, use the button Do it again.

Questions
1.

Which piece can jump over other pieces?

2.

Which piece cannot go backward when moving?

3.

Which piece is forced to move only on the same color square?

4.

Which pieces are qualified as minor pieces?

5.

Which pieces are qualified as heavy or major pieces?

6.

Please use the diagram to answer the following


questions:
a) How many squares are available to the black
Queen for its next move?
b) Which piece the black bishop in g4 can capture?
c) Which square this piece is occupying?
d) How many white pieces can capture the pawn
on e5?
e) How many black pieces are defending it?

7.

In the following diagram, on which square


must the white Queen move in order to attack
the largest number of black pieces?

8.

In the following diagram, on which square


must the black King move to ensure it will be
capturing a piece on its next move?

Solutions are available here

Lesson 2 - How The Pieces Move: Solutions


To The Exercises
Below are the solutions to the exercises of this lesson.
Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 2 - How The Pieces Move: Solutions To The Exercises

Questions
1.

Which piece can jump over other pieces? The knight

2.

Which piece cannot go backward when moving? The pawn

3.

Which piece is forced to move only one one color square? The bishop

4.

Which pieces are qualified as minor pieces? The bishop and the knight

5.

Which pieces are qualified as heavy or major pieces? The rook and the Queen

6.

Please use the diagram to answer the following questions:

a) How many squares are available to the black Queen for her next move? 4
b) Which piece the black bishop in g4 can capture? A knight
c) Which square this piece is occupying? f3
d) How many white pieces can capture the pawn on e5? 2 pieces: the pawn on d4 and the
knight on f3.
However, we have to note that if White uses the knight to capture the black pawn, he risks loosing his Queen
since Black could then capture it with their bishop on g4. Black would then have a greater compensation for
their pawn. White is better not use his knight for the capture since it is shielding the Queen. In this case, we say
that the knight is "pinned" by the bishop on g4. Since White does not want to loose his Queen for a pawn, we
could then say that in reality, only 1 piece, the pawn on d4, is safe to capture on e5.

e) How many black pieces are protecting it? 2 pieces: the pawn on d6 and the knight on c6.
However, as we have seen above, we can say that the bishop on g4 is protecting the pawn also, indirectly, as it
is pinning one of its attacking piece, the knight on f3, to its Queen.

7.

In the following diagram, on which square must the white Queen move in order to
attack safely the largest number of black pieces? On the e6 or d2 squares.
On e6, the Queen is on a safe square and it is attacking 3 pieces: the 2 knights and the rook. Black cannot save
them all and will loose one of them (probably a knight...). In d2, the Queen is attacking the bishop and 2 pawns.
However, Black can move to bishop to a safe square and the Queen will feast only on one of the pawn. It is
good if you got one of these two answers. The question was about moving the Queen. However, if you
answered was moving the Queen on e6, pat yourself on the back if you saw that this square was better than d2
because the gain was greater for White. In chess, we can find good move. However, we should always verify if
better ones exist!
We have to note that the Queen can also attack 3 pieces on e4 and h4 and 4 pieces on e4 but these squares are
not safe since Black would capture it first...

8.

In the following diagram, on which square must the


black King move to ensure it will be capturing a piece
on its next move? On the d7 square.
The King is sure to get at least the pawn since White will prefer to
save the rook.

Lesson 3 - Pieces' Value, Attack and Threat:


Pieces Relative Value
Here is the plan I propose for this lesson:
1. Pieces Relative Value Part 1
2. Pieces Relative Value Part 2
3. Attack and Threat
4. Exercises
5. Solutions to the exercises
Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 3 - Pieces' Value, Attack and Threat: Pieces Relative Value

We learned in lesson 2 the way each piece captures enemy pieces. Here are a couple of questions
we need to ponder on though: are all captures ensuring a material advantage? Should we always
capture an enemy piece being offered?
In order to help us in determining if a capture is favourable or not, there is a simple system well
known in the chess world which gives a value to each pieces except the King (since both Kings
will always be on the board). This sytem used the pawn as the base unit value. So, according to
this system:

(the pawn)
(the knight)
(the bishop)
(the rook)
(the queen)

=1
=3
=3
=5
=9

The justification for the value given to the pieces are derived from their characteristics: the pawn
is the base unit because of its limited moving capacity; bishops and knights got a 3 because they
are minor pieces with characteristics that are giving them about the same value on the board; the
rook is worth more than the minor pieces because it is a major piece and, finally, the Queen is
worth 9 because it is the most powerful piece on the board.

This sytem has been tested and gives a fair value to the pieces. As an example, if a player gives a
bishop and a knight to obtain a rook (giving 6 points and getting 5), he will have a disadvantage:
he might have removed a major piece from his opponent but on the other hand, the opponent will
have one more piece on the board. With this extra piece, he will have the opportunity to have a
more dynamic setup and will have the possibility of controlling more space.
Another example validating this system is that 2 rooks (5+5 = 10 points) is worth more than a
Queen (9 points). Indeed, the rooks can combine their power to build excellent defensive
fortress or attacking net. They can always protect each other mutually. We can affirm that a
player exchanging his Queen for two rooks has done an good deal!
To properly evaluate the winner of an exchange, we have to calculate the number of points that
both players obtained in the sequence of moves. The player obtaining the greater number of
points succeeded in getting a material advantage over his opponent. Thus, for example, if you
give a knight and a pawn to capture a rook, it costed you 4 points to remove 5 points from your
opponent's army. A positive deal giving you a 1 point material advantage!

Lesson 3 - Pieces' Value, Attack and Threat:


Pieces Relative Value (part 2)
If you did not go through the previous page giving an introduction about the relative value of the
pieces, I recommend that you do so before continuing.
Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 3 - Pieces' Value, Attack and Threat: Pieces Relative Value (part 2)

The system we learned in the previous page is useful to provide the concrete value of the pieces.
However, we cannot use this system to give a real value to a piece using only this system (it
would have been too easy...!). When evaluating a piece (friend of foo), we have to take into
consideration its "relative" value which is defined by the context and the environment of the
piece. To help you understand this notion, you have to know that the position of the piece during
a game is more important than its relative value. Indeed, a player can have a material advantage
over his opponent and loose the game! This is possible because the opponent's pieces are active,
better coordinated and have more space to deploy their power. In the example below, White has a
material advantage (they have an extra knight) but what good it is giving them? All his pieces
except the King are blocked! Black, despite their material deficit, has a better position. Black has
more chance to win the game even if they have a smaller force on the board.

Diagram 3.1 - Positional versus Material Advantage


To help you evaluate the relative value of a piece during a real game, ask yourself the following
question when your opponent offers to exchange pieces: "is it really good for me to let this piece
go?, does this exchange improve my opponent's position?.
Later, we will study strategical notions and the way to get positional advantage during a game of
chess. For now, just keep in mind that a piece value is built up from material and context
considerations.

Lesson 3 - Pieces' Value, Attack and Threat:


Difference Between Attack And Threat
If you did not go through the previous topic on the relative value of the pieces, I recommend that
you do so before continuing as it is a prerequisite to the content below.
Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 3 - Pieces' Value, Attack and Threat: Difference Between Attack
And Threat

A piece is attacked when it can be captured by an enemy piece on its next move. When the attack
gives an advantage (material or other type) to the attacker, the attack becomes a threat. We can
then say that a threat is an attack, but the opposite is not true: an attack is not necessarily a threat.
In chess, a player will often try to build threats on the enemy camp by attacking high value
enemy pieces. With the value system we previously studied, we are now able to determine if an
attack coming from our opponent is a real threat or not. If it is the case, four options are possible
to eliminate the threat:

move the threaten piece on a safe square;

blocking the threat by interposing a piece between the threatened piece and the
attacker (keeping in mind that the blocking piece must not be threatened as
well...);

capture the attacking piece;

protect the threatened piece when its value is lower or equal than the attacking
piece.

In the diagram below, it is Black to move and the threatened piece is the knight sitting on the h8
square (the attacking piece is the bishop on d4). We can use the four options to remove the
threat:

Move the piece

Blocking the threat

Capture the enemy piece

Protect the piece

Diagram 3.2 - Four options to remove a threat

Note that when two enemy pieces of same value get captured during a sequence of moves, we
say that the two opponents did an "exchange" since none of the players got a material advantage
out of these moves.
That concludes this lesson... let's see if you grasped everything with the exercises available on
the next page.

Lesson 3 - Pieces' Value, Attack and Threat:


Exercises
Even though exercises are not required, I recommend working on them. They will help you
grasp and practice the things you learn from the lessons more efficiently. You can certainly go
back and sneak in the previous pages... but try first to answer the questions without going back.
By doing so, you will make your memory work a bit and it is a pretty good thing to keep the
memory working if you want to become a good chess player.
Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 3 - Pieces' Value, Attack and Threat: Exercises

When you are done, you can use the Verify button to see you results. If you want to do the
exercises all over again, use the button Do it again.

Questions
1.

What is the relative value of:


a) a bishop?
b) a rook?
c) a pawn?
d) a Queen?
e) a knight?

2.

In a material perspective, is it a good move to capture:


Yes
No
a) a bishop for a rook?
Yes

No

Yes

No

b) a knight and a pawn for a bishop?

c) two bishops for a knight and a rook?

Yes

No

Yes

No

d) two rooks for a Queen?


e) a rook and two pawns for
a knight and a bishop?
3.

Using this diagram, give the name of the


squares where white pieces are attacked:

4.

Using this diagram, give the name of the


squares where black pieces are threatened:

For questions 5 to 9, you must find the threatened piece and indicate the method you have
to use to eliminate the threat. To identify the method, use the following letters:
a) moving b) blocking c) capture the attacker
d) protect the threatened piece

5. White to move:
a) which square the threatened piece is
occupying?
b) which method must be used?
c) if the method is "moving", indicate the
square on which the piece must be
moved. Otherwise, indicate the starting
square corresponding to the piece used
for blocking, capturing or protecting:

6. Black to move:
a) which square the threatened piece is
occupying?
b) which method must be used?
c) if the method is "moving", indicate the
square on which the piece must be
moved. Otherwise, indicate the starting
square corresponding to the piece used
for blocking, capturing or protecting:

7. White to move:
a) which square the threatened piece is
occupying?
b) which method must be used?
c) if the method is "moving", indicate the
square on which the piece must be
moved. Otherwise, indicate the starting
square corresponding to the piece used
for blocking, capturing or protecting:

8. White to move:
a) which square the threatened piece is
occupying?
b) which method must be used?
c) if the method is "moving", indicate the
square on which the piece must be
moved. Otherwise, indicate the starting
square corresponding to the piece used
for blocking, capturing or protecting:

9. White to move:
a) which square the threatened piece is
occupying?
b) which method must be used?
c) if the method is "moving", indicate the
square on which the piece must be
moved. Otherwise, indicate the starting
square corresponding to the piece used
for blocking, capturing or protecting:

Solutions are available here

Lesson 3 - Pieces' Value, Attack and Threat:


Solutions To Exercises
Below are the solutions to the exercises of this lesson.
Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 3 - Pieces' Value, Attack and Threat: Solutions To Exercises

Questions
1.

What is the relative value of:

a) a bishop? 3
b) a rook? 5
c) a pawn? 1
d) a Queen? 9
e) a knight? 3
2.

In a material perspective, is it a good move to capture:


a) a bishop for a rook? No
b) a knight and a pawn for a bishop? Yes
c) two bishops for a knight and a rook? No
d) two rooks for a Queen? Yes
e) a rook and two pawns for a knight and a bishop? Yes

3.

Using this diagram, give the name of the


squares where white pieces are attacked:
c3, d4 et g5

4.

Using this diagram, give the name of the


squares where black pieces are
threatened:c5, e5 et d8
The pawn on e5 is threatened since White is attacking
it 2 times (with the pawn on d4 and the knight on f3)
and it is protected only 1 time (by the knight on c6).

For questions 5 to 9, you must find the threatened piece and indicate the method you have
to use to eliminate the threat. To identify the method, use the following letters:
a) moving b) blocking c) capture the attacker d) protect the threatened piece

5.

White to move:
a) Which square the threatened piece is occupying? h1
b) Which method must be used? b (blocking)
c) If the method is "moving", indicate the square on which the piece must be moved.
Otherwise, indicate the starting square corresponding to the piece used for blocking,
capturing or protecting: White can block by moving the d4 pawn to d5. He can also move the
f2 pawn or the g1 knight f2 to f3.
Note that White cannot block by moving their f1 bishop to g2 since Black will then be able to capture it and the
threat will still exist and unstoppable (ending up loosing their bishop and rook for free...). Same situation for the
e2 pawn: if it moves to e4 to block the path, Black could capture the pawn with the c6 knight, White will then
capture the knight back with their own knight on c3 and finalle the b7 bishop will capture the white knight
renewing the threat on the h1 rook. Black would gain 1 extra pawn in this exchange.

6.

Black to move:
a) Which square the threatened piece is occupying? f6
b) Which method must be used? a (moving)

c) If the method is "moving", indicate the square on which the piece must be moved.
Otherwise, indicate the starting square corresponding to the piece used for blocking,
capturing or protecting: moving the piece on h5, e4 or e8
7.

White to move:
a) Which square the threatened piece is occupying? g2
b) Which method must be used? c (capture), b (blocking) or d (protecting)
c) If the method is "moving", indicate the square on which the piece must be moved.
Otherwise, indicate the starting square corresponding to the piece used for blocking,
capturing or protecting: protecting their bishop by moving the Queen to e2 or moving their
King to f1 or f2.
Or: capture the attacking piece with the bishop on g2 or the knight on c3.
The threatened piece is not required to stay passive and it can capture the attacking piece...

Or: blocking the threat by moving the g1 knight to f3.


This solution is not recommended though as it will require the knight staying on the f3 square otherwise the
bishop on g2 would be vulnerable (the knight is "pinned"). White would then have a less dynamic position than
Black. In order to free up their knight, White would need to move their rook from h1 to g1 on his next move
inorder to protect their bishop and allow the knight to get out of the pin..

8.

White to move:
a) Which square the threatened piece is occupying? d7
b) Which method must be used? d (protecting)
c) If the method is "moving", indicate the square on which the piece must be moved.
Otherwise, indicate the starting square corresponding to the piece used for blocking,
capturing or protecting: moving the knight to the b6 square
Note that the knight cannot go on the e5 to protect the pawn since it would get captured by the black knight
sitting on c6...

9. White to move:
a) Which square the threatened piece is
occupying? e5
b) Which method must be used? a (moving)
c) If the method is "moving", indicate the
square on which the piece must be moved.
Otherwise, indicate the starting square
corresponding to the piece used for blocking,
capturing or protecting: moving on the g6 or
f3 squares

Go back to the questionnaire

Lesson 4 - Basic Rules: Introduction

Here is the plan I propose for this lesson:


1. Introduction
2. The Goal of the game
3. The Checkmate
4. Other Rules
5. Chess Problems
6. Exercises
Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 4 - Basic Rules: Introduction

Ok, we understand now the chessboard and how all the pieces move. But we are not there yet...
before sitting in front of a chessboard and play a game, there is still an important thing to learn:
how do we play the game?
For a beginner, it can be difficult to assimilate all the rules of the game in one single lesson. My
approach will then be to separate the explanation of the rules in two lessons: the basic rules (the
current lesson) and the advanced and special rules (next lesson).
You will be able to play and understand simple games after this lesson.
In the advanced rules lesson, we will learn exception and special cases like drawn games, the
promotion and castling.

Lesson 4 - Basic Rules: The Goal of the Game


"The pupil wants not so much to learn, as to learn how to learn."
- Samuel Boden
Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 4 - Basic Rules: The Goal of the Game

To win a game of chess, we have to capture the opponent's King. In order to succeed, a player
must build an attack with his pieces, while restricting the enemy pieces, so he can build a wall
around the enemy King to prepare its capture. The first player succeeding in this operation wins
the game. A player can also be victorious when his opponent loose faith in his position on the

board (not enough material to capture the enemy King or an undefendable position) and forfeits
the game.

The Check
When a piece is attacking the opponent king, threatening to capture it on the next move, we say
the the King is in "Check". In the example below, it is White to move. If the White Queen is
moving to the b3 square, it will threaten of capturing the Black King on the next move. The
Black King will then be in check. While playing a move attacking the opponent's King, a player
usually says "check".

Click here to see the check on b3 by the


white queen.

Diagram 4.1 - A check to the black King by the White


Queen

When a player's King is in check, he is required to do something about it prior to execute any
other plan. In order to remove the check, he can use three of the four options we saw in lesson 3
"Attack and Threat": moving the King to a safe square (which is not controlled by an enemy
piece), blocking the check with a piece or capturing the piece giving the check. In the example
below, the black King is in check by the bishop sitting on c5:

Moving the King

Blocking the check

Capture the attacker

Diagram 4.2 - Three options available for removing a check

According to the rules, it is illegal to play a move that is not neutralizing a check when the King
is attacked, or move the King to a square controlled by an enemy piece. If a player makes such a
move, his opponent must notify him to play another move aiming to stop the check.

Lesson 4 - Basic Rules: The Checkmate


"Chess is a game sufficiently rich in meaning that it is easily capable of containing elements
of both tragedy and comedy."
- Luke McShane
Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 4 - Basic Rules: The Checkmate

If a player gives a check to the opponent and the attacked King cannot be protected from it, we
say that the attacked King is "checkmate". The game is over and the player having checkmated
the other is the winner. The number of captured pieces or any other factors are irrelevant in the
game outcome: the only thing that matters is the checkmate.
In the following diagram, the White King is checkmated by the rook-bishop tandem. We can see
that the White King is in check by the black bishop and that the rook is controlling the escape
squares of the King on the d file. It means that White cannot neutralized the attack by moving the
King. Also, the black bishop cannot be captured and its attack cannot be blocked by a white
piece. The game is over and Black is the winner.

Diagram 4.3 - White is checkmated


Lesson 8 is dedicated to the mating patterns. It will be important to learn them not only for
mating your opponent but also to avoid being suprised yourself by a checkmate!
Here is an example of one of the most frequent mating pattern: the back rank mate (or corridor
mate). In the diagram below, the Black King feels very safe since it is well protected by the f7,
g7 and h7 pawns. But trouble is around: these pawns are building up a tumb instead of a giving
it protection! White only needs to play his rook on b8 and the Black King is doomed!

Click here to see the back rank mate (or corridor mate).

Diagram 4.4 - Back Rank Mate

There are other versions of the back rank mate where the attacked King is squeezed in a deadly
corridor. We will see these other patterns in lesson 8.

Lesson 4 - Basic Rules: Other Rules

"The laws of chess do not permit a free choice: you have to move whether you like it or not."
- Emanuel Lasker
Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 4 - Basic Rules: Other Rules

Here are other rules that must be followed when playing a game of chess:
1. White is always starting the game by making the first move.
2. The first piece touched is the first piece to move. It means that if a player on his turn to
play touches one of his pieces, he is required to move this piece. He will be allowed to
play another piece only if the touched piece has no legal move to do. A player can touch
the pieces on the board only to replace them properly on their square if they are
misplaced. The player has to signify his intention to his opponent before replacing the
pieces by using the French expression "J'adoube".
Ok... that's enough for now! We will cover the remaining of the rules in the next lesson on
advanced rules. For now, you can introduced yourself in the fantastic chess world by practicing
on a real chessboard. You do not master all the tricks and rules yet, but you know enough to start
playing with friends and have fun. If you want an advice, try to play around twenty games before
working on lesson 5. If you do not have playing partners you can start by playing online at
Yahoo, they have a section for beginners. You have to register (free) before playing if you do not
already have a Yahoo account. For those of you that are skilled on the web, you can find other
online chess sites: there are a lot of them.
To terminate nicely this first block of lessons, I would like to present you a famous game played
in 1750. The game is not too long and it will allow you to get familiar with the features of the
chessboard below. When games are being presented, the convention is to put a heading
containing the details of the game: the title of the game (when the game is famous), the name of
the players (starting with White), the location and the date if available.
Click here to get help on the interactive chessboard features. For now, forget the text box
labelled "Move" which contains the algebraic notation of the moves. We will see the algebraic
notation in lesson 6...

Lesson 4 - Basic Rules: Chess Problems


"The beauty of a move lies not in its appearance but in the thought behind it."
- Aaron Nimzowitsch
Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 4 - Basic Rules: Chess Problems

Before starting the exercises for this lesson, let me talk a bit about chess problems. Chess
problems are created for entertaining or for training purposes. The positions are usually taken
from games already played but they might also be invented by chess players. Specialized chess
magazines and web sites usually propose a section containing chess problems. A chess problem
is composed of a position and some extra information needed to solve the problem. For example,
the information could be something like "White to mate in 2 moves". To find the solution, the
position must be analysed in order to find the moves' sequence that both players need to play.
Solving these kind of problems helps in developing better analysis skills and helps also to
memorize position patterns that could very well occur in one of your chess game.
If you worked seriously on all the previous pages for this turorial, you know enough at this point
to resolve simple chess problems. You will find several of them in the exercises of the upcoming
lessons. But before letting you work on your exercises for this lesson, let's see what a chess
problem looks like with the example below.
Usually, solutions to chess problems are using the algebraic notation to give the answer. We will
study this system in lesson 6, but for now we will use another way to check your answers. You
will then be able to concentrate on the rules you learned in the current lesson.
That concludes this lesson... let's see if you grasped everything with the exercises available on
the next page.

Lesson 4 - Basic Rules: Exercises


Even though exercises are not required, I recommend working on them. They will help you
grasp and practice the things you learn from the lessons more efficiently. You can certainly go
back and sneak in the previous pages... but try first to answer the questions without going back.
By doing so, you will make your memory work a bit and it is a pretty good thing to keep the
memory working if you want to become a good chess player.
Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 4 - Basic Rules: Exercises

Questions
Do the exercises and compare your answers with the solution provided using the Solution link.
1.

In chess, how do we determine the winner? Click here for the solution

2.

Which French term a player must use to indicate that he wants to replace some pieces
on the board? Click here for the solution

3.

Indicate if the move done by Black is legal


or illegal in the following diagram. In case
of an illegal move, give the reason.
Click here to see the move...

Click here for the solution


4.

Indicate if the move done by White is legal


or illegal in the following diagram. In case
of an illegal move, give the reason.
Click here to see the move...

Click here for the solution


5.

Indicate if the move done by Black is legal


or illegal in the following diagram. In case
of an illegal move, give the reason.
Click here to see the move...

Click here for the solution

6.

Indicate if the move done by Black is legal


or illegal in the following diagram. In case
of an illegal move, give the reason.
Click here to see the move...

Click here for the solution


7.

In the following diagrams, it is White to move. Find the move they must play to check
the black king. When you found the check, find all possibilities that Black has to
neutralize the check.

Click here for the solution

Click here for the solution

Click here for the solution

Click here for the solution

A more challenging for the last one ...

Click here for the solution

8.

In the following diagrams, it is White to move and he can checkmate in one move.
Find the move giving the KO to Black.

Click here for the solution

Click here for the solution

Click here for the solution

Click here for the solution

A more challenging for the last one ...

Click here for the solution

Lesson 5 - Advanced And Special Rules:


Introduction
Here is the plan I propose for this lesson:
1. Introduction
2. Castling
3. Drawn Games
4. The Promotion

5. Some Extras
6. A Game Example
7. Exercises
Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 5 - Advanced And Special Rules: Introduction

Did you get the opportunity to play a few games? Are you mastering the basic rules of the game
explained in the previous lesson? I am asking these questions since it is important to grasp these
basic rules prior to jump into the current lesson.
We will see in this lesson some special rules you can encounter in a game of chess: castling,
promotion and draws.

Lesson 5 - Advanced And Special Rules:


Castling
"Castle early and often"
- Rob Sillars
Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 5 - Advanced And Special Rules: Castling

Since the goal in chess is to checkmate the King, it is logical that this royal piece is victim of
several threats coming from the enemy. It is then of the utmost importance to take care of its
safety by hiding it behind its teammates and ensuring that the squares around it are well
protected. There is a special move available to both players to help fulfilling these objectives: the
"castling".

Why castling is a special move?


Well, it is because the move goes against several rules. Indeed, when castling:

the King is moving two squares instead of one;

two pieces are played on the same move (the King and a rook);

it allows the rook to pass over another piece (the King).

Why castling is useful?


Castling offers the players a fast way of putting the King in a safe spot near the side of the board,
far from the action usually occuring in the center columns. The center files are often opened and
dangerous during the first phases of the game. Moreover, castling allows the rook, which is
confined behind the other pieces, to play a more active role in the game. To help you understand
the value of this move, let's consider the following diagram:

Diagram 5.1 - We have to shelter the King


An excellent strategy for White in this position would be to move the King to the g1 square so it
would be sheltered by its pawns. By moving the King on this square, the pawns and the King
will protect themselves mutually. White could take two moves in order to put the King on g1:

Diagram 5.2 - Move the King to g1

However, this strategy would confine the rook to a very passive role. White should then allow
the rook to quit its starting square before moving the King to g1. The maneuver will then take
four moves:
1. Move the king to e2
2. Move the rook to e1
3. Move the king to f1
4. Move the king to g1

Diagram 5.3 - We need 4 moves to put the king to safety

After all these moves, White has a much better position. But four moves are a lot... and in a real
game, his opponent will try his best to prevent White to succeed in reaching this position. If we
think about it, both players would benefit to have this setup... thus castling has been introduced
in order to speed up the game.

Ok... very useful move but how do we do it?


So here we are. How are we castling? Casting is considered as a King move. The player must
take the King and moves it horizontally two squares (left or right). Afterward, the player must
take the rook he will find on this side of the board and move it to the first square on the other
side of the King. The rook is then passing over the King. No piece must occupy the squares in
between the King and the rook prior to execute the move.
If we have another look at the position we used in diagram 5.1, we can see that White could
fulfill his objective in only one move by castling:

Click here to see White castling on the kingside

Diagram 5.4 - Castling

In the above diagram, White is castling on the kingside. We may say also that White is "castling
short" since only two squares are in between the King and the rook. When a player is castling on
the queenside, three squares separate the King and the rook so we can also say that the player is
"castling long". Here is an example of castling queenside:
Click here to see White castling on the queenside

Diagram 5.5 - Castling long

Note that when castling queenside, the King does not protect all three pawns as it is the case
when castling on the kingside. Indeed, the a pawn is no longer protected after the castling. Pay
attention to this pawn when castling long. If it is under attack before you execute your castling,
you risk loosing it and the king will no longer have a strong shield. The queenside is a bit more
risky for the King but it benefits to the rook since it will occupy a central file allowing for a
quick entry in the action. The rook does not usually have this chance when castling on the

kingside. In certain positions, bringing the rook on the d file when castling queenside can be very
interresting.

Special conditions
No doubt you are starting to appreciate the virtues of this move: it has the power to transform a
position in a blink of an eye. For this reason, some restrictions were defined to limit its
accessibility:

no piece must stand in between the king and the rook a player wants to use for castling;

both pieces must occupy their starting square and must not have been moved since the
beginning of the game;

the king must not be in check;

the king must never cross a square controlled by an enemy piece;

The last condition might need a bit more explanation. For example, if Black is controlling the f1
square, White cannot castle kingside since his King must cross the controlled f1 square to reach
g1. It might be easier to understand this condition with a picture:

Diagram 5.6 - White cannot castle kingside since black's bishop is controlling the f1 square
The main objective of castling is to put the king in a safety area during the most violent phases of
the game. That's the reason why this move is usually done early in the game. In most cases,
castling is done prior to the fifteenth move.
In high level games, the side of the castling has a big influence on the development strategies of
both players. Some players will even wait as long as they can before castling in order to keep
their opponent in the mystery.

Lesson 5 - Advanced And Special Rules:


Draws
"To play for a draw, at any rate with white, is to some degree a crime against chess."
- Mikhail Tal
Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 5 - Advanced And Special Rules: Draws

There is not always a winner in chess... actually, we can even say that in high level play there are
more games ending with a draw then with a winner! But how come a game can end up in a draw
you are asking me? Well, there are 7 different ways to draw a game of chess:

when there is a mutual agreement to draw the game by both players;

when the position is a "stalemate";

when the same position happens 3 times during the game;

when both players have insufficiant material for checkmating the other player;

when no captures has been made or pawn has been moved in the last 50 moves;

when one of the player is giving perpetual checks to the other player;

when time is over on the clock and the opponent does not have sufficiant material for
checkmating.

Let's see in details each of these situations.

Mutual Agreement
It might happen in a game that neither player succeeds in building a material advantage over the
other, or that both players no longer want to play a specific ending because they lost interest in
the position or because they do not want to risk loosing the game. In these situations, players can
mutualy decide to end the game peacefully in a draw. If players are using a chess clock, other
situations might encourage a mutual agreement draw. As an example, one of the player has a
winning advantage but feels that he does not have enough time on the clock to ensure the victory.

In fact, almost all reasons are valid to draw a game when both players are in agreement. The only
exceptions to this rule are happening in some official 'images/s. In high level play, it happens
sometimes that 'images/ organizers are forbidding mutual agreement draws in order to avoid
strategic arrangement between players. These arrangements are usually breaking the show as
chess enthousiastics prefer to see epic battles happening on the board.
Officially, a player must always play his move before offering a draw to his opponent. The
opponent must then accept or decline the offer. If the offer is declined, the game must continue.
There is no limit about the number of times a player can offer a draw. However, in official
'images/s, the opponent can notify the referee about abusive draw offers and the referee can then
give a sanction to the other player. Usually, when a draw is offered, the opponent knows that the
other player wants the draw so it is not necessary to remind him all the time that the draw offer
still stands. The opponent might offer himself a draw later on when he wants to accept it. The
other player is not required to accept the draw however since the position or the context of the
game might have changed and the draw is no longer an option for him.

The Stalemate
If a player's King is not in check and this player has no legal move to play, the player is in
stalemate. The game is then declared a draw. In the following diagram, it is Black's turn to play
but if you look at the position, you will note that he has no legal move to do! If the black King
would have been in check, Black would have been checkmated. But unfortunately for White,
and despite their big material advantage, the black King is not attacked and White missed the
chance to win the game because he stalemated his opponent instead.

Diagram 5.9 - Black is stalemated


Here are some examples of stalemated position occuring against a lone king. In all the positions
below, it is black to move. The white player has not been cautious since he should have been the
winner with the material advantage he had compared to his opponent...

Diagram 5.10 - Black is stalemated

Diagram 5.11 - Black is stalemated

Diagram 5.12 - Black is stalemated


I would recommend to the white player to learn how to checkmate a lone king... and how
convenient: he can do so in lesson 8!

Position Occurs Three Times during the Game


If a position occurs three times duting a game, the player having the turn to play can claim the
draw. This is the "threefold repetition rule". All pieces must be exactly at the same position and
the context of the game must be the same: same player on the move and same castling
possibilities for both players. In order to find and prove the repetition, the game must be noted.
We will study how we note a chess game in the next lesson.

Insufficiant Material

This situation occurs when both players do not have enough material to checkmate the opponent.
Studies have already been done to determine what is the minimum material required to check
mate a King. Here are the configuration ending up to a theorical draw according to these studies:

a lone King against a lone King

a lone King against a King and a minor piece (bishop or knight)

a lone King against a King and two knights

50 Moves Rule
The rule states that a player can request a draw if no capture has been made or no pawn has been
moved in the last 50 moves. If a player is in difficulty, he might have the possibility to use this
rule to hope for a draw. As an example, let's imagine a position where Black has only is King
and a bishop on the board, and White has a King and a rook. Black knows that he has not enough
material to checkmate his opponent. He will then try to play carefully and not fall into a mating
patern of give his bishop for free and reach a position until 50 moves are played to draw the
game. White must then find a way to checkmate Black as quickly as possible if they want to be
victorious...

Perpetual Checks
If a player finds a way to continually check the opponent King (on every move) but without
delivering a chekmate, he can force a draw. This rule is quite often associated with the Position
Occurs Three Times During the Game rule since the player might reach the same position several
times at some point. In the example below Black is threatening the checkmate on his next move
(Queen to b1). White cannot hope to win the game as he will have to sacrifice a lot of material to
stop the checkmate. He however has the chance to get a draw by giving perpetual checks:

White: Queen to c8, check

Black: King to h7
(otherwise the only other possible defense
would be Queen to d8 and it would be captured)

White: Queen to h3, check

Black: King to g8

White: Queen to c8, check and so on...

Diagram 5.13 - White Obtains A Draw By Perputual Checks

If you have a loosing position, search for perpetual check possibilities and use this rule to get at
least a draw.

Time running out when the opponent does not have enough
material to checkmate
In most organized events (chess clubs or tournaments), each player has a time control (using a
chess clock) to play their moves during a game. For example, a common time control used in
slow games is that each player must play 40 moves in less than 120 minutes. The rule says that
if a player does not succeed to play all his 40 moves before this period of time, he looses the
game. However, a draw will happen if his oponent does not have enough material to force a
checkmate.

Lesson 5 - Advanced And Special Rules: The


Promotion

"Any material change in a position must come about by mate, a capture, or a Pawn
promotion
- Purdy
Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 5 - Advanced And Special Rules: The Promotion

We already know that the pawn is the weakest piece of the board. He might be weak... but it is
the piece having the most potential! Indeed, through the promotion process, a pawn has the
chance to transform its destiny....
The promotion occurs when a pawn reaches the end of the board: the 8th rank for a white pawn or
the 1st rank for a black pawn. At this moment, the player must change the pawn into another
piece (of the same color) except for another pawn or a king. It can then be promoted to a bishop,
a knight, a rook or a queen.

Underpromotion
Since the queen is the most powerful piece on the board, it is logical that it is the favored piece
used for promotion (often referred to as "queening"). However, it happens sometimes that other
pieces are selected. In this case, we use the term "underpromotion". For example, as you can see
in the following diagram, it is White to play and the f7 pawn can be promoted. If White chooses
to promote it to a queen, the game ends up in a draw because of a stalemate... and poor White
would spoiled an easy victory. On the other side, if the pawn is transformed into a rook, White
would then have enough material to checkmate the black king in a couple of moves.
Click here to see the underpromotion

Diagram 5.14 - Underpromoting to a rook

In other cases, a knight can also be the the ideal piece to use for a promotion. If we study
carefully the diagram below, we can see that White is winning the game immediately by
promoting the f pawn to a knight for a checkmate!
Click here to see the underpromotion

Diagram 5.15 - Underpromoting to a knight

Some rumours about promotion


Sometimes, we can hear different statements during friendly games about the promotion. Some
people say that a pawn can only be promoted to a captured piece of the same color, or that a
player can promote to a Queen only one time during a game... well, these are all bad statements.
There is no limit applied to promotion: a player can have the number of Queens he wants
through promotions during the same game. The same rules apply to underpromotions.

Lesson 5 - Advanced And Special Rules:


Some Extras
"Under no circumstances should you play fast if you have a winning position. Forget the
clock, use all your time and make good moves."
- Pal Benko
Home Page >> The Rules >> Lesson 5 - Advanced And Special Rules: Some Extras

Bravo! If you made it here through all the previous lessons, it means that you know all chess
playing rules. You can now start appreciating fully the joys of this wonderful game. But before

running to the first tournament available or registering to your local chess club, let me explain
you some additional little things related to organized chess events.

The Chess Clock and Time Control


The chess clock is a case containing two timers used for tracking the time remaining to each
player during a game. The mechanism inside the case links the two timers together so when a
player stops his timer, the opponent's timer is then started to calculate the time he takes to think
and play his move.
There are analog (mechanic) and digital timers. The digital type is more common nowadays and
allows for a wider variety of time control settings.

Analog Timer

Digital Timer

You can buy chess clocks at my online store. By buying from my online store, you support the
development of the site.
Time controls are used to allow each player to have the same amount of time to play their moves.
Several time control settings can be used. Here are some examples:

Standard: 40 moves/120 min + 60 minutes for each extra block of 20 moves

Incremental: 30 moves/75 min + 45 min/checkmate + 30 secondes by move (possible


only with digital time controls)

K.O. : all moves must be played in a given period of time (60 min/checkmate, 25
min/checkmate, 5 min/checkmate)

When a chess timer is used in an official game, the player whose time expires (we also say that
his "flag falls") is loosing automatically the game if his opponent has enough material to
checkmate him. The game is a draw if it is not the case (more details in section on draws).

The ELO Rating And Chess Titles


The ELO rating is used to determine the level of play of chess players. A mathematical formula
based on the work of the mathematician Arpad Elo uses statistical probabilities about
performance between players in an event to generate a rating. A beginner player without
competition experience will have a rating between 800 and 1000. A player with 50 to 100 games
played has a rating around 1200. A serious chessclub player training on tactics and doing postmortem analysis of his losses could rreach a rating around 1400 to 1500. A good chess club
player has around 1700 to 1900. Starting at rating of 2000, chess players deserve a title:

Expert : rating between 2000 and 2200

Master: keep a rating over 2200 for 20 consecutive games

International Master (IM): got 3 IM norms in international events. IM rating is around


2300 to 2450

Grandmaster (GM): got 3 GM norms in international events. This is the highest rank we
can reach in chess. GM rating is around 2400 to 2900. Once a player is grandmaster, he is
so for the rest of his life because this title cannot be revoked.

IM et GM titles are permanent: even if the player's rating goes down significantly, his
international title cannot be revoked. Top 10 players in the world currently have an average
rating of 2790.

A MUST READ..! BORROWED


Mr. Githaka says he was so ambitious from childhood that he achieved to join the only secondary
school he ever wished of joining (while everybody selected 3 school, he only did did one
school), went to the university he dreamt and pursued the career he ever wished. But after
becoming an architect (the only job he knows he could make money without struggling) he
realized that still he didnt have the clout and clamor of a billionaire.
He wanted to make more money. So he listed down 10 billionaires in Kenya. The likes of Njenga
Karume, John Michuki, Chris Kirubi, Mwai Kibaki,James Mwangi etc and embarked on a study
about these people. His main aim was to discover what happened with them. When was their

turning point? What did they discover? What do they do? What dont they do? Obviously, these
are normal men, with normal upbringing and faced same challenges as their peers but there came
a time when the broke loose from their peers and ended up where they are. So in 3 years, he tried
and met 9 out of the 10 billionaires just to try and discover them.
After interacting with them, he found 5 things about these guys that they have in common and
that has made them be where an what they are.
The five things are:
1. They Understand The Power Of Many (Numbers.)
The richer you are the further you go away from
your business (the more you disassociate self from the business) but the poorer you are, the more
you want to identify with your business.
Successful business people do not have my business they have our business idea. Thats why
when you go to a place like Silver prings hotel, chances are some employees there do not know
who owns the place and have never seen him/her. But when you go to a poor persons business,
that person is always there worse even as the cashier, accountant, attendant etc. The trick of
business success is in numbers not in self. As long a you have a personal business called mine
then be sure you are headed to
poverty. People die but companies dont die.
2. They Are Serious Borrowers.
Borrowing money is their cup of tea and their signature. If you have never borrowed money, you
will never lend money. And cant lend it if you dont have it. A bank is a broker between the poor
and the rich. The only place where the two meet is in a bank. The poor brings the money and the
rich takes it. A poor person saves the money because they have more money than their thinking
capacity. So they keep the money there so they can go and think what to do with it Rich people
come to pick that money because they have many ideas than the money they have. So they come
to pick that money to go implement those great ideas. Only poor people operate savings and
fixed deposit accounts. Fixed deposit accounts are for the living dead. People who undertake and
commit that they will not think about any idea for that money until the expiry of that period of
time, and that if they end thinking and what that money, then they will be penalized. Rich people
operate current accounts. Therefore, a bank exists purposely for 2 reasons:
A) For the poor to bring in the money
B) For the rich to come and take it away.
Banks make more money from borrowers than savers. Hence they respect the former more.
3. They Have High Level NETWORKS!
These people as explained in the 1st point believe the power of many. As a result, they have
many likeminded friends who can be of benefit to them. They have friends all over. Rich people

have no age, tribal, geographical or gender boundaries. It doesnt matter who or what you are. As
long as you are of value to their ventures. Building such networks need a lot of travelling and
interacting with people. People never get rich in their hometown. Somebody who dreams of
being rich, regardless of their age or status, must have; A Driving license (because they will own
a car for them its criminal to be seeing cars everyday but never own one.), A passport (because
you must travel widely to expand your networks and to sharpen your mindset If you have been
buying a suit in Kenya for Ksh. 30, 000) and find it in China at Ksh. 800, your language and
ideas change.) and you must know how to swim because you are going to
have fun and relax.
4. They Are Great Risk Takers!
As long as you avoid taking risks, you are headed to the grave a poor fellow. Taking risks is like
walking in the dark. You know where you are going but cant see there. Better still, you are more
confident and secure when you are accompanied than when alone. The more people you are the
more secure hence the 1st point. Risk taking is about numbers.
5. They Have Read The BIBLE!
They understand and make use of the parable of the sower. The seed is the shilling. They put the
shilling on the fertile land. They simply know where to put their money and where not to put
their money.
They understand the current business trends and make business decisions with this in mind. If
you bought a plot 5 years ago at Ksh. 500, 000 you are worth nothing 5 years later but that plot
even if it will be worth 2M...the only way you can realize that money is by selling it or
borrowing against it... (remember poor people don't borrow neither can they *$#@damn it
sell). A rich person will invest that same money somewhere where it will be worth 200M
within the same period of time. Thats why you find a 2-bedroom house varying from Ksh. 2,000
to Sh. 80,000 or even more from one place to another. Or a cup of tea ranging from Ksh. 5 bob to
Ksh. 500. Yet when you ask all these business people, you will discover that each of them
decided the price. Why the variance? They know the value chain. In business the Higher you
go, the cooler it becomes..and the lesser the pressure. A landlord collecting Ksh. 2,000 for a
2-bedroom house has more problems than his colleague collecting Ksh. 80,000 for the same
house elsewhere. While one has to literally come collecting payments at 4am every 1st day of the
month (lest the tenant escapes), the others money is safely banked in his account even before the
month ends. While one can even bargain with the tenant about the rent, the other is fixed, and
you either or leave it. While one regardless of the cheap rent has few tenants, the other has a
problem of too many tenants coming to look for housing. Same with the tea business. The one
for Ksh. 5bob, the cup is bigger than the Ksh. 500. Yet the 5bob one can even choma you if
you are not full or even can pay later if you dont have cash. Unlike the Ksh. 500 one. Chances
are the Ksh. 5 bob businessman doesnt even have a bank account or goes to save. And he does
everything in his business. Know where to put your money. Create value for your cash dont

battle with market prices. They are not your limit. Its better to be the last among the rich than to
be the 1st among the poor.
A Poor (POOR) Person Is One Who:P- Passes
O- Over
O- Opportunities
R- Repeatedly.