The game


The rules of chess

Chess is played on a square board of eight rows (numbered from 1 to 8) and eight columns (called rows and numbered with letters from a to h) of squares. The colors of the sixty-four squares alternate between black and white, and are called “white squares” and “black squares.” The chessboard is located such that each player has a white square in the corner of his right hand, and the pieces are placed as shown in the diagram, with each queen in a square that matches their color.

Initial position of the pieces on the board

Each player begins the game with sixteen pieces: the pieces of each player are composed of a king, a queen, two towers, two horses, two bishops and eight pawns. One player controls the white pieces and the other controls the black pieces, the player who controls the white is always the first to move. The colors are chosen by a friendly agreement, by a game of luck or by a referee of the game. The players play in turn to move the pieces, some movements involve the “capture” of an enemy piece, eliminating it from the board. The objective of the game is to checkmate the enemy king. This occurs when the king is under immediate attack (in check) and there is no way to eliminate the attack in the next move. Theorists have developed extensive chess strategies and tactics since the invention of the game.

The Tower

The tower can move any number of empty squares vertically or horizontally (it is also involved in the special move of King Castling).

The Bishop

The bishop can move any number of empty squares in any diagonal direction. Note that the bishop never changes color, so players speak of “black” or “white” bishops.

The Horse

The horse can jump over occupied squares and move two spaces vertically and one horizontally or vice versa, making the shape of an “L”. A horse in the middle of the board has eight squares to which it can move. Note that each time a horse moves, it changes color of square.

The Queen

The queen can move any number of empty squares diagonally, horizontally or vertically.

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The King

When the king is under direct attack by one (or possibly two) enemy pieces, the player is said to be in check. When in check, only the movements that make the king leave check are allowed. The player must not make any move that could put his king in check. The objective of the game is to checkmate the opponent, this happens when the king of the opponent is in check and there are no movements that save the king from the attack.

The king can only move one square horizontally, vertically or diagonally.

The Pawns

The pawns have the most complex movement rules: a pawn can move a square, if that square is unoccupied. If he has not yet moved, the pawn has the option to move two squares forward, if both squares in front of the pawn are unoccupied. A pawn can not move backwards. When such an initial move of two squares puts the pawn horizontally adjacent to the pawn of the opponent, the pawn of the opponent can capture that pawn “in step” as if moving forward a single square instead of two, but only in the movement immediately following. Pawns are the only pieces that capture differently how they move. They can capture an enemy piece in any of the two spaces adjacent to the space in front of them (ie the two squares diagonally in front of them), but they can not move to those spaces if they are empty. If a pawn advances to the last rank, it is promoted (converted) into queen, rook, bishop or knight of the same color. In practice the pawn is almost always promoted to queen.

The Castling

Once in the game, each king is allowed to make a special double movement to castle. Castling involves moving the king two squares towards a tower, then moving the tower to the square that the king has just crossed. Castling is only allowed if all the following conditions are met:

• The player can not have moved neither the king nor the tower involved in the castling.
• There should be no pieces between the king and the tower.
• The king must not be currently in check, nor must he pass through squares that are under attack by enemy pieces. Like any other movement, castling is illegal if it puts the king in check.
• The king and the tower must be in the same rank (to exclude castling with a promoted pawn).

Other rules of movement

With the exception of the horse, the pieces can not jump over each other. The own pieces (“friendly pieces”) can not be passed if they are in the line of movement, and a friendly piece can never replace another friendly piece. Enemy pieces can not be crossed either, but they can be “captured”. When a piece is captured (or taken), the attacking piece replaces the enemy piece in its square (the only exception being “on the way”). The captured piece is thus removed from the game and must not be returned to it for the remainder of the game. The king can not be captured, only put in check. If a player is unable to remove his king from a check, he ends up in checkmate with the consequent loss of the game.

The game of chess does not have to end in checkmate, any of the players can give up if the situation seems desperate. The games can also end in a draw. A tie occurs in several situations, including tie by agreement, drowned king, repetition of positions, the rule of fifty movements, or a draw for impossibility of checkmate (usually for lack of material to checkmate).


A game that ends without the victory of any of the players. Most of the games that end in stalemate is by agreement based on the rules. The other ways in which a game can end up in stalemate are drowning, triple repetition, the rule of fifty movements and insufficient material. It is said that a position is in tables if any player can, through a fair game, force the game to a position where the game must end in a draw, regardless of the movements made by the other player.


Drowning is the position in which the player who has to move has no legal moves and his king is not in check. A drowning ends in stalemate.

Triple repetition

The game ends in a draw if the same position occurs three times with the same player and if each player has the same set of legal movements three times (the latter includes the right to eat at the pass and the right of castling).

The rule of the fifty movements

The rule of fifty movements establishes that the game is tied after fifty moves of each player without a move or pawn capture.

Insufficient parts

A scenario in which all the pawns have been captured and one player has only his king while the other player also has only his king or king and a knight or bishop. The position ends in tables because it is impossible for the dominant part to checkmate regardless of the game. The situations in which the checkmate is possible only if the player in inferiority commits a blunder is covered by the rule of fifty movements.

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