Back to the Basics!

Jul 02, 2023

Understanding the Chessboard

The game of chess is played on a square board divided into 64 squares of alternating colors. A unique coordinate of a letter and a number identifies each square. The horizontal rows are numbered from '1' to '8' from bottom to top and vertical columns are labeled from 'a' to 'h' from left to right, . The bottom-right square for each player should always be a light square.

chessboard layout

Chess Pieces and Their Abilities

Each player starts with 16 pieces: one king, one queen, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, and eight pawns. Each piece has its unique way of moving on the chessboard.

The King

The king is the most important piece in the game. It can only move square at a time but it can move in any direction. The main objective of the game is to checkmate the opponent's king.

king chess piece

The Queen

The queen is the most powerful and versatile piece on the board. She has freedom to move an unlimited number of squares in any direction, horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. However, she cannot leap over other pieces blocking her path. 

queen chess piece

The Rook

The rooks are sometimes refered to as castles are particularly powerful pieces when they are protecting each other and are connected. Rooks can move any number of squares along a rank/row or file/column.

rook chess piece

The Bishop

The bishop starts on one color (light or dark) and must always stay on that color. Bishops also can move any number of squares diagonally along an unblocked path.

bishop chess piece

The Knight

Knights are a unique piece as they are the only pieces that can 'leap' over others. Knights move two squares in one direction the one in another making a right angle or L shape.

knight chess piece

The Pawn

Pawns are unusual because they move and capture in different ways: they move forward, but capture diagonally.

pawn chess piece

Basic Rules of Chess

At the beginning of the game, the chessboard is laid out so that each player has the white (or light) square in the right-hand side corner. The chess pieces are then arranged the same way each time. The second row (or rank) is filled with pawns. The rooks are placed on the corners, followed by the knights next to them, then the bishops, and finally the queen, who always goes on her color (white queen on white, black queen on black), and the king on the remaining square.

chess setup

For the past couple hundred years historians tell us, the rules say the player with the white pieces always moves first. After the initial move, the players alternately move one piece at a time. Pieces are used to attack and capture the opponent's pieces while supporting each other. The game ends when a king is checkmated, or when a player resigns, or by agreement (draw).