CategoriesChess For Beginners

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 [email protected]

CategoriesChess For Beginners

Chess Noob #1 – An Introduction to a New Blog Series

Greetings to all my fellow chess players and a big warm “hello” to all the would-be/future chess players of the world who’ve come across this blog.  This will be a new chess blog series titled “Chess Noob”, and it will be geared primarily to beginning/novice players (both adults and children and possibly even parents of new chess players).

So what will a chess blog for novice players entail?  “Chess Noob” will start out simple (the rules of the game, how to play, etc.) and work through everything you need to know to learn the game of chess or (if you already play) how to get better.

WARNING: This blog is not at all geared for intermediate or advanced players, so if you fit in one of those categories you may be very bored…  However, since we’ll be working our way up we may eventually get into the intermediate work.

My goal with this blog is to get someone from the point of going “what’s chess?” to having them play at a level that they can do well in chess tournaments (although this blog alone won’t get you there, you’ll need to actually practice playing as well!)  I won’t be turning anyone into a world champion with these blogs (as I’m nowhere near that advanced myself), but together we’ll coach you into someone that can, at the very least, beat all your friends (unless you’re friends with the Polgar sisters… then you’re on your own!)

I’ll be taking you through everything (literally) from the start.  The first blog after this you see will be to tell you what the game actually is and it’s rules.  After that we’ll talk about the pieces and how they move, a few openings, tactics (starting off simplistic and increasing in difficulty as we go), what to expect at chess tournaments, how ratings work and what they mean, how to help your chess-playing child improve their game while still having fun, and more topics (to be honest, I only know my plans for the first 10 or 12 topics so far… after that I’m going to just wing it).

So please, I invite you, bookmark this blog so you can come back every week to see what’s new to learn and let’s grow together as chess players.  And if there are any topics you want me to cover, feel free to leave a comment telling me!

Have a topic you’d like me to cover or a question you’d like to ask? send me an e-mail at [email protected]

CategoriesChess For Beginners

Basic Checkmates

As a beginner it’s important to learn which material imbalances lead to a clear win. In this post I’m going to show two very basic checkmates that every beginning chess player should know. The first is checkmating a lone enemy king with your own king and queen. The first concept to understand is that you cannot checkmate the enemy king in the middle of the board. The king must be driven to the edge of the board. The way you do this is by using your queen to cut off escape squares. Take a look at the graphic below:

In the above diagram, white has two moves that will lock the enemy king on the edge of the board. Do you see what they are? They are Qg7 and Qb7. In this case however Qg7 is superior, can you see why? Once the enemy king is driven to the edge of the board it’s a simple matter of moving your own king to support your queen as she gives checkmate. The final position usually looks like this:

 

Notice how the king is supporting the queen while she is delivering checkmate.

The second basic checkmate a beginner should learn is checkmating a lone king with a king and rook. This checkmate is a little bit harder because it requires the use of temporizing moves. Once again the king must driven to the edge of the board. Let’s take a look at the diagram below where it’s white turns to move:

Notice how if it were black turns to move and our opponent played Ke8 we could play Ra8#. It is however our turn to move. If we play an immediate Kf6 black will escape via Ke8. The key in this position is to make a waiting move. Either Rb7 or Rc7 work fine. Then if black plays Ke8 we checkmate by either Rb8 or Rc8. More likely black will play Kg8, and then the winning sequence is:

1. Rc7 Kg8

2. Kf6 Kh8

3. Kg6 Kg8

4. Rc8#

The final position is in the diagram below.

Although these positions are basic for most chess players, do not underestimate their importance. A good way to practice is to set up the position against a computer and keep practicing until you win every time. Good luck!

CategoriesNew Products

Manopoulos Backgammon Sets Now In Stock At Regency Chess

The Regency Chess Company is very proud to introduce a brand new supplier to our ranks. Manopoulos are based in Greece and have been manufacturing finely crafted wooden products for over twenty years. A family run company with in house production and an obsession with quality and design.

One of the things we loved so much about their backgammon sets was the amazing variety of rich hardwoods on offer. The company isn’t resting on their laurels or heritage, instead they create new products every year and strive to further improve production and quality. We have high hopes for the range of backgammon that Manopoulos are supplying and expect them to form an essential part of our Backgammon selection.

Before I sign off there should of course be a mention of the amazing Greek chess sets coming from this superb brand. With pieces and boards made from solid metals with amazing lacquers and antique style finishes. When we have finished selecting the sets we plan on stocking, we will have a small but excellent range of fine Greek chess sets for your perusal. Check out the current range of Manopoulos products here

Backgamon Set

CategoriesNew Products

Tournament Chess Equipment Now Available From Regency Chess Co.

Tourament chess supplies

Since 2008 The Regency Chess Company have become established as the UK’s number one retailer of high quality and luxury chess sets. We have imported luxury sets from all over the world and gained a solid reputation based on the high quality of our products. 2012 however sees us move into a new niche, that of the mass produced tournament chess equipment. Our obsession with quality still applies of course, which is why we sourced a range of very high quality, tournament grade plastic chess sets and boards.

Our bulk purchasing power means we can offer these sets to you at very competitive prices and clubs and schools can buy at the best possible price when they purchase quantities of more than five sets. To keep things simple we have added bundle deals to the website that allow you to buy in bulk and make significant savings. All of these sets are stocked in large volume in our warehouse in Frome, Somerset.

For those of you who require custom orders get in touch via phone or email and we can price up what you need. Check out the new category here

CategoriesChess GamesChess MidgameChess PlayersChess Puzzles

How To Improve Your Tactical Vision

It’s been said that chess is 99% tactics. Whether that is true is a matter of debate. Nevertheless, if you fail to see the tactical possibilities on the chess board you will most likely lose the game. The great thing is that studying tactics and combinations is fun! Combinations are a big part of what gives chess its artistic flair. So now that we know tactics are important how do we get better at them? Here I’ll outline a simple but effective plan of study.

1)      Solve Chess Diagrams Every Day. Get a book of chess problems and combinations that is on the market. Practice solving the problems for around 30 minutes a day. Try to work through the problems slowly. Don’t rush; make sure you see why the move you are making wins. Visualize the series of moves to the end, which brings us to…

2)      Work to Improve Your Visualization Skills. Try closing your eyes and visualizing the board. Try mentally dividing the board into parts. Is e4 a white square or a dark square? What about d4? Don’t worry if it’s difficult at first, just keep practicing.

3)      Analyze Your Games. Look for spots where you had trouble and analyze them afterwards. Try to remember how you were thinking at that time. If you made a mistake try to think why you chose that particular move. Did you not see what your opponent was threatening? Were you just so caught up with your own moves that you had a blind spot? These are common errors that chess players make.

4)      Study Games from Great Tactical Players. Pick a player with a highly tactical style, maybe Alexander Alekhine or Gary Kasparov. Play over and study their games.

Try sticking with this study plan long term. Thirty minutes each day is over 180 hours a year you will have spent improving your tactics!