Chess Game – A Guide to Chess Pieces, Terms, and Moves

Chess Game

Chess is a game of tactics and strategy played between two individuals. It is a war between two kingdoms on a checkerboard, with 64 squares arranged in an 8×8 grid. Chess sets come with 32 specially designed chess pieces of contrasting colors (traditionally white and black). The game begins with the white side making the first move, after which the players take alternate turns to move their chess pieces by following some fixed game rules.

In a chess game, the goal for each player is to force the King of their opponent to a position where it is unable to avoid capture. This position is called checkmate, and the player to do so is the winner of the game.

You can also win a chess game if a player gives up. According to chess terms, this is known as resigning.

This article is your guide to knowing all about the chess game, its game pieces, history, gameplay, rules, and strategies to win the game.

History of the chess game

Chess initially appeared in India around the 7th century AD. It had spread from Asia to the Middle East and Europe by the tenth century. Due to its popularity amongst the nobles, chess was recognized as a “royal game” in the 15th century. Chess sets and the game rules gradually evolved and reached today’s standards by the nineteenth century.

Once considered an intellectual diversion for the upper classes, chess experienced a spurt in popularity during the twentieth century. Since then, experts and state-sponsored players started competing for incredibly profitable tournaments and officially recognized World Championship Title.

Since the mid-nineteenth century, many world champions have been recognized as Grandmasters. Some of the grandmasters are Alexander Alekhine, Mikhail Moiseyevich Botvinnik, Bobby Fischer, Garry Kasparov, and Vishwanathan Anand.

Want to know more about chess history, check out this article.

Chess pieces

While playing chess, you move the chess pieces around the chessboard. In a standard chess set, there are 32 chess pieces, and each player’s army consists of 16 pieces. These pieces are also called chessmen, and some game experts also call them “material.” Chess pieces are of 6 different types – 8 pawns, 2 bishops, 2 knights, 2 rooks, 1 queen, and 1 king.

Each piece has different values directly tied to its strength in a chess game. The value of the chess pieces does not determine the winner, but if the position of both the players is the same, it can help determine which player is winning or is in a better position.

Each player must move one piece to a new square in every alternate turn. The player with the white pieces goes first, and then each player takes turns moving a piece. Each piece can also capture and eliminate an opponent’s piece. This can be done by simply moving an appropriate piece onto the square occupied by the opponent piece and removing it from the chessboard.

Look at the chess notations in the image below that represent each chess piece’s starting position. For example- the White’s King starts on the ‘e1’ square & the Black’s King starts on the ‘e8’ square.

Chess pieces and terms

Here is an overview of the chess pieces, their starting position, value, and movements:

Chess PieceStarting PositionMovementValue
KingWhite’s king starts on e1 Black’s king starts on e8           It can only move one square in front, backward, or sideways direction.Not Defined
QueenWhite’s queen starts on d1 Black’s queen starts on d8It can move as many squares horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.9
RookWhite’s rook starts on a1 & h1 Black’s rook starts on a8 & h8It can move as many squares horizontally or vertically.5
BishopWhite’s bishop starts on c1 & f1 Black’s bishop starts on c8 & f8It can move as many squares diagonally.3
KnightWhite’s knight starts on b1 & g1 Black’s knight starts on b8 & g8It can move one square horizontally and two squares vertically(in an ‘X’ shape)3
PawnWhite’s Pawn begins in the second rank Black’s Pawn begins in the seventh rank.It can move only one square at a time (except for the beginning, where it can move two squares). Also, it cannot move backward.1

Check out our article to know more about the chess pieces and learn how they move and capture other chess pieces.

Chess game terms

In the chess game, you occasionally come across words that are difficult to understand.  As a result, you must understand the basic terms and phrases of the chess game.

There are many terminologies associated with chess. Here we will discuss some of the primary and essential chess terminologies that a chess player should know:

Blockade

When the movement of a pawn is restricted/blocked by placing a chess piece in front of it, blockade happens. As a pawn can only capture another piece diagonally, stopping it from the front will restrict its movement.

Bad Bishop

It is a special term in chess used for a bishop whose movement has been typically reduced due to a friendly pawn positioned on the same colored squares.

Checkmate

It is a position in a chess game where the king cannot avoid getting captured. This is the objective of a chess game.

Take a look at this article where we discuss 23 checkmate styles that every chess player should know.

Check

When the opponent’s pieces attack a player’s king, it is called a check. However, unlike checkmate, here, a player has the opportunity to escape from the attack.

Doubled Pawns

When two pawns of the same color reside on the same file, it is double pawns. For example, white’s two pawns are at b4 and b5. Generally, double pawns are considered a weakness due to their inability to defend each other.

Stalemate

When a player is neither in check nor has any legal moves, it is a stalemate or a draw in modern chess.

Capture 

This term is used when a player removes an opponent’s piece from the chessboard. So, the opponent is one piece down.

Castling

When the blocks between the rook and the king are clear, you can swap the position of the King and Rook to do castling. Then, the king moves two squares over the rook in castling, and the rook moves to cover the king’s other side. Take a look at this article to learn how to castle in chess.

Cramped

In a chess game, when the position of a player is such that they lack the freedom to move their pieces positioned behind pawns of the same color.

Material

It is a term usually used for chess pieces which means all the better-valued pieces a particular player has on the chessboard. If a player has a better value of pieces left on the board than the other, then that player has a material advantage.

Promotion

When a pawn reaches the other side of the board, it can become any chess piece, except King or Pawn. As per the International Chess Federation, you cannot refuse a promotion. Learn more about pawn promotion here.

Sudden Death

Sudden death is the time duration in which all the remaining moves of a chess game should be completed. Generally, the last 30 minutes of the game is known as Sudden death.

Under Promotion

This term refers to a pawn that has been promoted to a chess piece other than the Queen. A player can under-promote a pawn to avoid a stalemate or gain a better advantage in the game.

How to Play Chess?

To start playing chess, you need to learn some essential steps and develop a strategic plan to give tough competition to your opponents. Following these steps is critical to dominate your opponent, control the game, and finally be the winner.

7 Steps tp play Chess

Here we have provided a brief overview of the seven steps that you need to learn and follow:

  1. Setting up the game
  2. Know how to move and capture game pieces
  3. Begin the Game
  4. Strategize your moves
  5. Use Special Moves – En Passant & Castling
  6. Safeguard your King
  7. Checkmate your rival’s king to Win

Learn about how to play chess in detail here.

Rules of Chess

Chess is an intellectual game with many rules, and learning these rules is not a difficult job for any chess player, regardless of their age. The governing body of these rules is the International Chess Federation (FIDE). There are some basic rules as prescribed by FIDE that you can check out in our article here.

So, before you start playing your next chess game, make sure to learn and follow the basic rules of chess. Apart from the basic game rules, there are some special rules about promoting a pawn, castling, En Passant, and checkmate.  

These chess rules are generally simple and not too difficult to understand and learn. However, the sheer amount of possible combinations devastates players, particularly the beginners, and they end up not taking any further interest in the game. 

But, we are confident that once you master the rules of the chess game, it will become an entertaining game for you. Who knows, you may even become the next grandmaster of chess.

Chess Strategies

Chess is an intellectual game, so you need to learn some excellent strategies to excel at it. One of the best chess game strategies is the opening move. Starting a chess game with the best chess openings helps you initiate or control the mid-phase of the game.

Some of the best chess opening moves are 1. e4, 1. Nf3, 1. c4, and 1. d4. A popular opening move for the Black is 1…c5, also known as Sicilian Defense. Another opening move preferred by World Champions is the move 1.d4.

Chess game strategies

Check out this article to learn about the best chess openings.

Once you control the mid-phase of a chess game, you must shift your focus and start planning for the end game strategy. End game strategies in chess involve the checkmate moves and their patterns.

There are several different styles of checkmate moves. Some of them are Anastasia’s Mate, Scholar’s Mate, Morphy’s Mate, and Reti’s Mate. You can check out all the different styles of checkmate moves explained in detail in this article. Although they aren’t easy to replicate, practicing them can improve your chances of winning.

Ways to Draw a Chess Game

A chess game may conclude in a draw for five reasons:

  • When it is one of the player’s turn to move a piece, neither their king is in check nor are they left with any other legal moves.
  • If both the players agree to end the game in a draw.
  • There are insufficient pieces on the chessboard – for example, a king and a bishop versus a king.
  • A player declares a draw if a similar position is replicated three times (though not necessarily in a row)
  • There have been fifty moves in a row where neither player has made a move or captured a piece.

Chess Game – Online vs. Offline Gameplay

An online chess game allows you to practice and improve at chess.  It also lets you play chess against the computer/AI opponent or engage in multiplayer online challenges. The AI opponents feel more like human players as they show various gameplay features. So, each chess game you play online will be different.

There are several platforms to play online chess, and each of these platforms has some unique features compared to the other. Have a look at some of these platforms to play online chess:

  • Chess.com: Play both live and correspondence chess games. Access to statistics, videos, and training.
  • Red Hot Pawn: It has several play modes such as tournaments, ladders, teams, etc., and also offers an educational forum with a community assistance system.
  • Sparkchess: This website allows you to play chessboard in three dimensions.
  • ChessTempo: Provides free chess training to improve your tactics. You can use a chess engine to analyze them if you have rated games.
  • Gameknot: Here, you have no obligation to finish your chess games in one sitting. You can also play multiple chess games online simultaneously, experimenting with different strategies and chess openings.

Take a look at the top 15 websites where you can play online chess for free.

Chess Competitions

Nowadays, chess is a truly global sport, with millions of players playing chess games every day. And there’s nothing quite like playing in a chess tournament.

Chess Tournaments

Tournaments are often played in the chess world. The International Chess Federation (FIDE), or World Chess Federation, regulates all international chess competitions. Moreover, FIDE awards the most prestigious chess titles to the best chess players based on their rank, skill, and performance. In addition, there are also national federations that award their own titles to extremely strong chess players. 

Once a chess player is rewarded with a title, they are called a master. And a master of chess needs to achieve many titles to attain the Grandmaster(GM) title.

So, what skills must you possess to become an effective chess player? Here is a list of them:

  • Good visualization skill
  • Selective calculation ability
  • Quickly evaluating or analyzing a position
  • Skill of pruning 
  • Better planning
  • Self-realization
  • Handling pressure
  • Ability to adapt

Take a look at the top 100 Indian Chess players here.  

We hope this complete guide on the chess game is handy for you. We have tried our best to include all the information required to gain an interest in playing the royal game of strategy. So, when you begin to play your next chess game, make sure you visit this article to revise the strategies.

Chess Game and pieces – FAQs

Who invented Chess?

The origin of chess remains a matter of controversy, but the earliest precursor of modern chess, Chaturanga, was invented in India around the 7th century. Take a look at this article, where we map out a timeline of the origin of chess.

Can you play a chess game online?

Yes. There are several platforms to play online chess,  and each of them has some unique features compared to the other. Take a look at this article where we highlight top websites to play chess online for free.

What are chess pieces?

Each player has 16 pieces of chess – 8 pawns, 2 rooks, 2 bishops, 2 knights, 1 king, and 1 queen. Learn how each piece moves and attacks.

What are the benefits of playing chess?

Some of the benefits of playing chess are enhanced analytical and problem-solving skills, increased IQ, improved focus, and heightened learning ability. Here is an article where we list down 20 benefits of playing Chess.

What are the major and minor chess pieces?

The queen and the rooks are considered the major pieces in a chess game, whereas the bishops and knights are considered the minor pieces.

What is action chess?

Action chess is a chess game where each player has only thirty minutes to complete all their moves.