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How to Play Chess

Impress your friends! Learn the game of kings and queens.


  • Step 1: Set up the queens and kings Place the board so the right corner square, nearer to you, is white. Put the queens on their corresponding colors in the back row: white, four squares from the left, and black, four squares from the right.
  • Step 2: Set up the rest of the board Add the bishops to either side of the royal couple, and the knights next to the bishops. Place the castles, or rooks, at either end. The pawns fill the second row.
  • Step 3: Learn the object of the game The object of the game is to corner your opponent's king so that it can't move anywhere without you capturing it.
  • Step 4: Learn the moves The queen can move in any direction, over any number of empty spaces. The king can move only one space at a time, in any direction. You cannot move the king to a space where it could be captured during your opponent's next move. Pawns move forward one space at a time. On their first move, they may move forward either one or two squares.
  • TIP: If one of your pawns makes it to the other side of the board, you can exchange it for any other piece.
  • Step 5: Learn the moves, part 2 Rooks move in straight lines, forward, back, or sideways on the board, over any number of empty squares. Bishops move diagonally in any direction, also over empty squares. Knights move in an L shape, two squares in any direction, and then one square to either side. Knights can jump over other pieces.
  • Step 6: Play a game Now you're ready to play! White always moves first, which gives that player the advantage of always being one step ahead. On the first move, white can only move a pawn or a knight (since only knights can jump other pieces).
  • TIP: The player who controls the center of the board has a strong advantage.
  • Step 7: Capture pieces Capture pieces by landing on a square occupied by an opponent's piece and removing the piece from play. Pawns can only capture by moving one square, forward and diagonally.
  • TIP: Try to capture your opponent's most valuable pieces: the queen, castles, knights, and bishops.
  • Step 8: Capture en passant Use your pawns to capture your opponent's pawns en passant. If your opponent moves a pawn two spaces on its first move and you have a pawn in a position where you could have captured it if it had moved only one space, you can capture their pawn as if it had moved only one space.
  • Step 9: Learn to castle Either rook can make a special move to protect its king. If you haven't moved the king or the rook yet, and there are no pieces between them, you can move the king two squares toward the rook, and transfer that rook toward the middle of the board, in the space right next to the king. You cannot castle if your king is in check, or would pass through check in making the move.
  • Step 10: Win When you move a piece so that it is in position to capture your opponent's king on your next turn, the move is called "check." If they move their king out of check, or move another piece to block your attack, the game continues. If they can't move out of check, you have put them in "checkmate" and won the game.
  • FACT: The number of possible variations in a chess game has been calculated at 10 to the power of 120 – more than the number of electrons in the universe.

You Will Need

  • Chess board
  • Chess pieces
  • Opponent

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