chess rules Posts

Chess Basic Tactics Series # 7 – Practice Puzzles

Well, I hope you all had a great Christmas! and now that it is over and we move towards the new year I thought we could look at something else.  We covered a lot of material in the previous six posts. Now it’s time to put that knowledge to practice. The first five are relatively simple to get you warmed up, the last five are more challenging. Also, I will not be stating which tactic is involved in each. Solving them is going to take some concentration and time. Try to give yourself 5-10 minutes for each puzzle, and make a note of the tactical theme that is used. The first move of each solution is provided at the bottom of the page. Some puzzles have one move answers while others require you to calculate variations. I will leave the calculation of variations as an exercise for the player.

Black to move

 White to move

White to move

Black to move

White to move

White to move

White to move

White to move

White to move

Black to move


1)  Bg4 (skewer)

2)  Rxe6 (pin)

3) Ne7+(fork)

4) Bd4(fork)

5) e5(pawn fork)

6) Nf7+

7)  Re8+(decoy)

8)  Qxf7+

9) Qxh7+

10) Qf3+

Chess Basic Tactics Series #3 – Double Attacks/Forks

In my last post I discussed discovered attacks. Technically, discovered attacks and discovered checks are forms of double attacks. I decided to do two separate postings because this tactic is so common and important. Learning the exact terminology isn’t the goal here, what’s important is recognizing the patterns and being able to incorporate them into your own games.

A double attack is an attack against two pieces or pawns at the same time. It is also possible to attack a piece and a square at the same time. Typically a fork involves one piece attacking two separate enemy pieces. The knight is the piece most associated with forking, but don’t forget that queens, rooks, bishops, kings, and even pawns can fork enemy pieces! Let’s look at some examples.

Here the white knight seems very menacing in blacks territory. Indeed it is because white plays 1. Nc7+ forking blacks king, queen, and rook! Notice that the knight can only attack squares of the same color. Keep that in mind when you are looking for forking opportunies with your knights.

The following is an example of a bishop fork, see if you can spot the fork before looking below the diagram

Here white plays 1. Bc6+ forking blacks queen and rook. Now let’s look at a king fork!

Here white plays 1. Kb3 and forks blacks rook and knight.

Now that we have a basic idea of forks, let’s do an exercise that’s a little harder. Instead of a one move fork let’s try to create an opportunity.

This diagram is a little more difficult, then the previous ones in this post and series. With that said take some time and study it. Imagine that the black king was on h8, if that were the case then Nf7 would be a fork. Is there a way for us to get there?

The winning move is 1. Qh8+! Notice that this move also skewers blacks king and queen. If black plays either Kg6 or Kh6 then white simply plays Qxe5. Because of this 1 … Kxh8 is forced. Then white plays 2. Nxf7+ forking blacks king and queen. The final fork is shown below.


The above is an example of how to turn simple tactics into multi-move combinations. Remember that the foundations for long combinations are basic tactics. Once you learn the basics by heart, then creating forcing sequences becomes much easier. We will continue our tactical study in the next post!

Chess Basic Tactics Series #2 – Discovered Attacks/Checks

In chess the discovered attack is one of the most important tactics. When we first begin playing chess we learn about simple threats. We attack one of our opponents pieces, and they defend. With a discovered attack we are creating two threats at one time. Since our opponent cannot defend against two attacks at the same time, we gain a material advantage. In a discovered attack a queen, rook, or bishop is positioned behind another piece. When that piece moves, it unleashes an attack. Let’s look at some examples to clarify.

In the above diagram it’s white’s turn to move. Notice how if white moves the bishop on e2, the white rook will attack blacks queen. There are a few moves at white’s disposal here, can you spot what the best one might be? Here the best move is Bg5! With this move white simultaneously attacks blacks queen and rook. Black has no choice but to lose material. Let’s keep studying this tactic because it’s incredibly important.

Here it’s blacks turn to move. White has just played dxc5 which was a major oversight. Here black plays 1. …Bxh2+! and white immediately resigned. Since white is forced to deal with the check, black will then play Qxd3 winning whites queen. Notice how in both of the above cases the bishop moved and created a powerful threat. Because of this, the piece that it uncovered was free to capture the enemy piece. When the piece that moves is able to check the enemy king, the discovered attack is even more powerful.

The most powerful form of discovered attack is the double check. This is extremely strong because it checks the enemy king with two pieces. When a king is in double check it is forced to move, as there is no other way to get out of check. Let’s see what this looks like in practice.

Here it’s white’s turn to move. We can see that the knight on e4 has several squares where it can move, unleashing the rook to give check. In this case however white can give double check by moving his knight to either f6 or d6. Here white plays 1. Nf6++ and gives double check and mate. Can you see why this move is superior to Nd6?

I hope you enjoyed this post! In the next part of our series we will discuss double attacks and forks.






Chess Noob #10 – How the Rules of Chess Have Changed

Josh from New Jersey asked me “Why is it that Pawns are allowed to move 2 spaces in the beginning?”

This is a great question on the history of chess, and so rather than writing a mini-blog to answer that question alone, I thought I’d go over several rules of chess that have changed over the centuries.  Some of these changes include how various pieces move, the appearance of the chess board, and how to win a chess game.

Pawn Movement

Originally, Pawns could only move forward one space at a time on every turn.  Around the 1500’s, it was decided that the game of chess needed to be sped up and made more exciting.  One of the things done to accomplish this was to allow the Pawn the option of moving up to 2 spaces on it’s first turn and therefore adding variety to the game (would the pawn move just one space or 2) and new strategies.  When it became apparent that a player could use this rule to avoid capture (by moving the Pawn 2 spaces instead of 1 space in which it might get captured by a Pawn on the 5th rank), the rule for En Passant was added.

Pawn Promotion

Originally, Pawns did not promote when they reached the 8th rank, there merely could not move any more during the game.  It wasn’t until the middle ages that it was decided to allow Pawns to be promoted to other pieces if they made it all the way across the board, but they could only turn into a Queen (which, at that time, was the weakest piece in the game).  In the late 1400’s, when the Queen became a much more powerful piece, players were given the option of promoting their Pawns to any other piece.  In the 1700’s, it was ruled that a Pawn could only be promoted to a piece that had already been captured (essentially putting a fallen piece piece back on the board in the Pawn’s place).  This changed again in the 1800’s to it’s current form where a Pawn, when reaching the other side of the board, can be promoted to any piece, even one that has not been captured (essentially allowing a player to have multiple Queens on the board).


Bishops have always been able to move diagonally.  However to start with, a Bishop could only move up to 2 spaces at a time.  Modern day chess has the Bishop moving diagonally as many spaces as it likes.


The Queen was originally the weakest piece on the board!  The very first time it was moved it could be moved in any direction up to 2 spaces, but for every move after that it could only move diagonally 1 space at a time!  It wasn’t until the late 1400’s that the Queen was increased to it’s current powerful status as a piece that can move any direction as many spaces as it likes.


Stalemate has changed often throughout the history of chess.  Up until the 15th century, a Stalemate was considered a win for the person that could force one to happen.  Then, until the 16th century, it was considered an “inferior win”… it would still count as a win for the person who caused the Stalemate to happen, but in a tournament with money prizes they’d only be eligible for half the winnings.  For a while (and in certain countries) a Stalemate was not allowed.  If a player made a move that caused a Stalemate to occur, they were forced to take the move back and make a new move instead.  In the 19th century, it was declared that a Stalemate should be treated as a draw, although to this day there are still many chess experts who believe it should once again be considered a win for whomever can force the stalemate to happen.


Up until the 1300’s, there were 3 ways to win a chess game: 1) Checkmate your opponent, 2) your opponent resigns, 3) capture all of your opponent’s pieces (minus the King).  In the 1300’s, it was declared that taking all your opponent’s pieces no longer counted as a win, you had to Checkmate them.

Threefold Repetition

The threefold repetition rule (if the same position is repeated on 3 consecutive turns, the game is a draw) did not come about until the 1880’s.

The 50-move Rule

The 50-move Rule (if 50 moves are made without capturing any pieces or moving any pawns, the game is a draw) was introduced in 1561 by Ruy Lopez.  In the 1600’s, Pietro Carrera said it should be 24 moves.  In the 1800’s, Bourdonnais said it should be 60.  For a while it was decided that all winnable endgames could be won in 50 moves or less, but then in the 20th century there were a few exceptions found.  Because of these exceptions, for a while, it was declared you could have up to 100 moves in certain endgame situations.  In 1989 that number was reduced to 75 moves, and in 2001 it was changed to 50 moves for all endgames, no matter the position.

Time Control

The first use of time control for games (which we’ll talk about in the next blog) was not introduced until the mid-1800’s.

White moves first

The rule that white moves first was not introduced until 1889.

My how things change!

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Chess Noob #7 – Special Pawn Moves

Like I said when I told you how the pieces move, the Pawn is a very tricky piece.  It might be worth the least (only 1 point), but it has the most special rules.  Remember, it moves forward but attacks diagonally.  And it moves only 1 space at a time UNLESS it’s the first time it moves, and then it can chose to move 1 space or 2.  Well, this tiny chess piece is about to get even more complex with it’s two special moves: En Passant, and promotion.

En Passant

En Passant (meaning “in passing”) is a very special move that can be done by Pawns, but only in certain places and situations.  As we discussed before, Pawns move forward (1-2 spaces on their first move and 1 space after that) and attack on the diagonal, as seen here

The special case of En Passant  occurs on the 5th rank for white Pawns, and the 4th rank for black Pawns.  Consider the following diagram:

White Pawns start on the 2nd rank moving toward the 8th rank, and black Pawns start on the 7th rank moving toward the 1st rank (in chess, “rows” are called “ranks” and “columns” are called “files”).  Therefore the pawns at a2 and f7 are in their starting position.  We know this means those 2 Pawns can move either 1 space or 2 spaces on their first move.  Let’s say it’s black’s turn.  He knows that if he moves his f-Pawn to f6, that white’s e-Pawn will take him.  So he decides to move 2 spaces to f5.

BECAUSE WHITE’S E-PAWN IS ON THE 5th RANK, he can take the f-Pawn as if it had moved only one space forward, but taking it “En Passant” or “In Passing”

This can ONLY be done on the 5th rank for white and the 4th rank for black as a special privilege for crossing into enemy territory.  ALSO, it can only be done to a Pawn moving 2 spaces on it’s first move.  If the f-pawn had already moved before the e-Pawn got there, En Passant would be illegal.   So if the position were already like this:

when the e-Pawn got to e5, he cannot take the f-pawn.  Also, if black’s pawn started on f6 and then moved to f5 so you can’t take it, en passant is not allowed.  ONLY on the pawns 1st move is en passant an allowable circumstance.

Pawn Promotion

One final special move for Pawns (see, I told you they were complex little pieces) is promotion.  Because Pawns are so weak (only worth 1 point) and because they have limited movement (only 1 space at a time in a forward direction), it is a great feat for a Pawn to get all the way to the other side of the board (8th rank for white and 1st rank for black).  Because of this, is a brave little Pawn manages to get that far, they are rewarded with a promotion.

A player that manages to get it’s Pawn all the way to the other side of the board may transform that Pawn into any piece they want (most players chose a Queen).

So now you know all the moves of the chess pieces (from this blog and from “All About Pieces” parts 1 and 2) as well as how to win (from “Check, Checkmate, Stalemate”).  Go out and play chess with the confidence that you know the rules of the game!  You may not start winning matches right away, but at least you know what you’re doing.  And you’ll learn even more by bookmarking this blog so you can stay up to date with all future blogs!

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