What are the Rules to Play Chess?

“Chess is a game for intellectuals” is what people unrelated to chess usually think. But in reality, anyone, regardless of gender, age, social background, and education level can play chess. They need to learn the chess game rules and practice hours to hone their playing skills. This article will look at all the rules of chess.

So if you are a beginner looking to make a grand chess debut, a player who has been away from the board for too long, or someone who is intrigued by the historical aspect of this game, make sure to stay tuned till the very end. 

Anatomy of the Gameplay – Basic Laws of Chess

One of the oldest board games in existence, chess originated from another strategy game, called Chaturanga, almost 1500 years ago. Since then, chess has spread to several parts of the world, enjoying various renditions. Today’s chess is an internationally accepted version with the FIDE (International Chess Federation) governing all its rules.

Chess is played on a 64-square chessboard with an 8 by 8 grid. Each player handles sixteen pieces – one Queen, one King, two Knights, two Bishops, eight Pawns, and two Rooks. The game’s goal is really to checkmate your rival’s King. Take a look at this article to learn how to play chess in 7 steps.

Here are some basic “laws” of chess as prescribed by FIDE.

  1. Every chess player must abide by the rules of chess to play a fair chess game.
  2. The positioning of pieces on the chessboard is permanent. Any attempts to replace one chess piece with another are deemed unlawful.
  3. No player can skip a turn, even if it means making a move that will cost them the game.
  4. Except for the knight, no other piece can jump over another when moving.
  5. The players in control of the white chess pieces are called White, and those controlling the black chess pieces are called Black. Whites always make the very first move in a game.

Chess Game Rules

We have divided the Chess game rules into 6 broad categories:

  1. Rules about moving Chess pieces
  2. Promotion Rules
  3. Rules to Capture game pieces
  4. Check & Checkmate rules
  5. Rules about resigning from the game
  6. En passant and Casting rules

Let’s look into each one of them in detail.

Rules about moving chess pieces

Every piece on the chessboard has a fixed set of movements that it can undertake. And every player needs to have a firm grip on these movements if they want to enjoy the full extent of the game. Here are 6 rules about the movement of the chess pieces:

  • The pawn moves only one square at a time, and that too only forward. However, if a pawn hasn’t moved yet from its rank, it has the option of moving two squares forward at a time if those squares are vacant. A pawn can move forward one square diagonally to capture a piece.
  • The Knight can only move two squares to the left, right, top, or bottom, and all these squares should not be in the same rank, file, or diagonal of the knight. A knight can only capture a piece if the square it is moving to is occupied by one.
  • The Bishop has the freedom to move as many squares diagonally as possible. The only exception is that it cannot move to a square that is occupied by a same-colored piece.
  • The Rook can move any number of squares a player desires. However, it can only move horizontally or vertically.
  • The Queen moves on the board are more extensive than any other piece. It can move horizontally, vertically, or diagonally as many squares as the player wishes it to.
  • The King movements are pretty restricted. A king can only move horizontally, vertically, or diagonally to its immediate squares, the only exception being “castling”, which allows a king to move two squares to its left or right.

Promotion Rules

  • A pawn cannot be promoted to another pawn or the king.
  • As per FIDE’s laws, you cannot refuse a promotion.

Learn how to promote and underpromote your pawn.

Rules to Capture game pieces

To capture a piece, you need to replace your opponent’s piece with one of yours. Here are the rules on capturing chess game pieces:

  • You can capture a piece only if it is on a square that your piece can move to during your turn.
  • You can capture all pieces on the board barring the king.

Check & Checkmate Rules

  • To execute a check, you need to pin down your opponent’s piece with one of your pieces such that your next move will appear to capture it.
  • To evade a check, you either need to move your king to another square where it will not get attacked or block/capture the attacking piece with one of your other pieces.
  • You announce a checkmate when your opponent fails to protect their king from your check.
  • A game is declared a draw if you and your opponent are out of salvageable moves or can still make moves, but none of them will result in a checkmate.

Rules about resigning from the Game

  • To forfeit a game, you can either verbally announce your resignation, encircle the end result of the game or write 1-0, if you are white, or 0-1 if you are black.
  • You can also deliberately tip your king to resign from the game. Your opponent automatically wins the game if you resign.

En Passant & Castling rules

  • To execute the en passant, your pawn should be one rank away and in the immediate file of that pawn of your opponent that hasn’t moved even once. If your opponent moves that pawn two squares forward to place it in the same file as yours, you can capture that pawn by placing your pawn in the square preceding its current position. This way, it will look like you captured a pawn diagonally, as pawns usually do.
  • You cannot make the en passant move if you have moved another piece after your opponent’s pawn moved two squares. The en passant has to follow your opponent’s move immediately.
  • Castling is a move executed to move the king to one of the corners and protect it using one of the rooks. It is the only chess game rule that allows the movement of two pieces at a time.
  • For castling you first move your king two squares, either to the left or right, towards a rook when castling. Next, you move the rook, towards which the king has moved next, such that it flanks the king towards the centre files of the board.
  • You can castle only if you haven’t moved your king and one of your rooks from their initial positions yet.

Learn more about Castling and En Passant moves.

The rules of chess are relatively straightforward and not too challenging to master. But, the number of permutations in which they can be used overwhelms players, especially beginners. However, once you get the hang of them, we are sure chess will become a fun game for you. Who knows, you might even become the next chess grandmaster.

Chess Game Rules – FAQs

Which colour goes first?

White makes the first move in all chess games according to the accepted consensus. This has been a historically accepted norm that players worldwide have accepted as to why White moves first. Learn how to play Chess in just 7 steps.

What are illegal moves in chess?

When a player moves a piece such that it does not comply with the set conventions of chess, the move is said to be illegal. For example, the Bishop can only move diagonally.

Is chess a draw after 50 moves?

According to the FIDE (International chess federation) Handbook, the fifty-move rule states that if the two players engaging in a chess game have not made any captures or moved their pawns in the last 50 moves, the game will come to a draw.

What is the 75-move rule?

The 75-move rule is an extension on the 50-move rule, designed specifically for tournaments. It allows you and your opponent not to claim the draw. Instead, an arbiter will enforce a draw for you.

What is Touch move rule?

Touch move rule states that when a chess player intentionally touches one of his pieces, they must make a move with that piece.

What is a three-fold repetition rule?

The three-fold repetition rule states that if the same position is repeated three times and no progress is made, you can claim a draw.

What is chess etiquette?

Chess etiquette refers to how players should behave in a game of chess. They should not be aggressive towards each other, speak politely, not topple the board in anger, be respectful regardless of a win or loss, etc.

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