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Chess Noob #2- What is Chess?

Chess is a 2 player game that originated in India sometime in the 6th century.  Over the centuries, the game has been modified and altered as it became more global.  The pieces changed names and form (from infantry, calvary, elephants and chariotry to pawns, bishops, knights and rooks), new pieces were added (the queen), rules were added (castling and stalemate) and other rules were changed (pawns moving 2 spaces on their first move and en passant).  What started as a military game for kings to play morphed into a game that gentlemen would play over tea and then into an international sport.

But what IS chess?

Chess is a 2 player game of strategy that is played on a checkered board of 64 squares of alternating colors between dark and light (usually black and white, blue and white, red and white, etc.)  It looks like this:

This board of checkered tiles is numbered vertically 1-8 and horizontally a-h.  This is for the purpose of taking notation which is how to write down the moves made by you and you’re opponent (we’ll cover notation in a future blog).  So, using this number and alpabet system for columns and rows, a labeled chess board will look something like this:

On this board are pieces.  Those pieces are:

The Pawn

The Rook

The Knight

The Bishop

The King

The Queen

These pieces are also dark and light, usually matching the colors on the board.  One player will have all light-colored pieces and the other player will have all dark colored pieces.  Each player starts the game with 1 King, 1 Queen, 2 Bishops, 2 Knights, 2 Rooks, and 8 Pawns.  the line up on the 2 rows closest to the player.  First row will go Rooks on the outside opposite squares, Knights on next medial squares, Bishops just medial to those and the King and Queen on the two center squares with the queen going on her color (light queen on a light square, dark queen on a dark square).  The second row is all pawns.  The two players’ sides of the boards will be mirror images of one another and when finished should look like this:

Starting with the player with the light-colored pieces, the two chess players will begin moving their pieces across the board to attack one another in an attempt to capture the King (we’ll go over exactly how the pieces movie in the next blog).

When one player is in a position to capture the king on their next move, and there is absolutely nothing their opponent can do to stop it, it is said that the defending player is in checkmate and they lose.

There are 3 outcomes of any chess game: win, lose, or draw.  You may win or lose via checkmate or resignation.  A draw can happen in one of several ways including a draw offer, stalemate, perpetual check, or the 50-move rule (we will go in more detail of ways to draw in a future blog).

A single game of chess can last anywhere from 2 minutes to several months, depending on the time control used in any particular game (time control will be covered in a future blog).

There are numerous variants of chess that players like to play in a casual atmosphere (these variants will be covered in, yep you guessed it, a future blog), but it is a good idea to master a regular game of chess before attempting any of these variants.

Many people enjoy playing chess casually with friends or online.  You can also play competitively in tournaments which are held around the world at various levels of skill.  Playing in tournaments can be a great way to play opponents you may never get a chance to as well as gain the opportunity to win cash and prizes.  In a future blog, we’ll discuss how to find local tournaments, what to expect in tournament play, and how to decipher the postings of how a particular tournament will be run.

In short, what is chess?  A 2-player military tactical board game that’s been played for centuries, is easy to learn but hard to master, will improve your strategic thinking and problem solving skills, and is fun and can be profitable.

Ready to learn the particulars of how to play?  Then bookmark this blog and get ready to learn!

Have a topic you’d like me to cover or a question you’d like to ask? send me an e-mail at flannelmann@yahoo.com

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