Learn how to play chess easily on Keenchess.com
You have probably been walking around a park one day and saw two people moving sculpted pieces over a board. The game they were playing was called chess. You might have also heard about the game from the famous Netflix show: Queen’s Gambit. You are intrigued by this game and want to know what it is and how to play chess. If so, then you are in the right place. This article will explain the game of chess and how it is played using a step-by-step guide.
What is Chess?
Chess is one of the oldest games known to man. Two opponents play it on a checkered board. Each player has a set of specially designed pieces of contrasting colors. These colors are usually white and black. The game aims to capture the opponent’s king.
Why You Should Play Chess
Now that you know what the game is, it is important to note that chess is not only a recreational game. It also has other benefits. A few reasons why you should play chess include the following:
Chess Improves Memory
Playing chess will significantly improve your ability to retain information. In one conducted experiment, researchers compared the ability to retain information of expert chess players to that of people with no chess-playing experience. It was discovered that the chess players were significantly better at recalling lists of words they’d heard than people who had never played chess. Therefore, if you’re looking to improve your memory, play chess!
Chess Greatly Improves Your Creative Ability
When you learn the game of chess and play it regularly, your creative ability will significantly improve. For example, research was conducted in a school in India where the creative thinking abilities of two groups of students were compared through tests that required creative thinking. One group consisted of students who were chess players, and the other group consisted of non-chess players. The researchers found that the chess-playing group scored significantly higher on the tests.
Chess Helps To Cultivate Better Planning Skills
A social experiment called the Tower of London test was conducted among people who played chess and people who didn’t, the results showed that the group that played chess had significantly better planning skills than those who didn’t.
Chess Offers Protection Against Dementia
In a 2019 research review, scientists found out that the complex mental flexibility that chess demands could help protect older people against dementia. In addition, they found that chess, as it challenges memory, calculation, and critical thinking abilities, hence increasing IQ, and may help reduce cognitive decline and postpone the effects of dementia as a person ages.
The above benefits are among the numerous advantages a person gets when they play chess.
Now that you know the benefits of playing the game let’s move on to the tools with which chess is played.
The Chess Set
The chess set is the house in which the chess pieces and the board on which it is played are kept. There are numerous types of chess sets, each made with different materials. For example, chess sets may be made of wood, plastic, and even marble. Some luxury chess sets are made of expensive items like diamonds. Inside the chess set, you will find tools with which the game is played, the chess board, and chess pieces.
The chessboard is a square board of 64 checkered squares consisting of eight rows and eight columns. The squares are of two colors, a light one and a dark one. The chessboard is divided into files, ranks, and diagonals.
Files, Ranks, and Diagonals
The chess board is divided into files, ranks, and diagonals. A file is a horizontal line on a chess board. Each file is assigned an alphabet from a-h. A rank is a horizontal line assigned numerical digits ranging from 1-8. Diagonals are lines that cut across the chessboard.
Chess pieces, sometimes called chess men, are carved figures placed on opposite sides of the board and used to play the game. The total number of chess pieces in a chess set is 32. Each player is assigned 16 pieces. The pieces may be white or black.
The pieces are:
Each player has one king, one queen, two knights, two bishops(one light and one dark), two rooks, and eight pawns each. This brings the total of all the pieces to 32.
One of the necessary steps to understanding how to play chess is knowing how the chess pieces move.
Every chess piece has a pattern with which they move. These patterns are:
The king can move in any direction. However, it can only move one square at a time. Therefore, the king is not a fighting piece and has to be protected. However, the king can perform a special move called castling, where it moves two squares to the left or right, and the rook moves to its other side to protect it.
The queen can move across ranks, files and diagonals. The queen can capture enemy pieces placed on any files, ranks, and diagonals within her reach.
The bishops can move across the diagonals on the board, the light bishop can only move on the light diagonals, and the dark bishop only moves on the dark diagonals. The bishops can capture enemy pieces that stay on their diagonals.
The knights move in an “L-shape,” meaning they can move two squares in any direction vertically followed by one square horizontally or two squares in any direction horizontally followed by one square vertically. The knights capture enemy pieces within the squares they can get to.
Pawns move one square forward at a time. However, the pawn can move two squares instead of one on the first move. They capture enemy pieces diagonally. Pawns can also promote to any chess piece (except the king) when they go all the way, from their starting squares to the other side of the board.
Each chess piece has a value attached to it.
The Queen is worth 9 points.
The Rook is worth 5 points.
The Knight is worth 3 points.
The Bishop is worth 3 points.
The Pawn is worth 1 point.
The King does not have a point assigned to it as it is regarded as the game.
A chess clock is an apparatus used to regulate the time in which a chess game is played. It consists of two adjacent clocks with buttons to stop one clock while starting the other, ensuring that both two clocks never run simultaneously.
Time controls are stipulated categories of time in which a chess game is to be played. Time controls in chess are divided into two, the long time control and the short time control.
The short time controls consist of Rapid, Blitz, and Bullet. Rapid time controls usually range from 15 minutes to 60 minutes, Blitz time controls range from 3 minutes to 10 minutes, while bullet ranges from 2 minutes downwards.
The long time control is known as classical chess. Classical chess time control is longer than rapid blitz or bullet. It is the time control implemented in the world chess championship. According to the chess governing body, FIDE, the classical time control for world chess championships are time control for the World Championship games is 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 60 minutes for the next 20 moves, and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting on move 61.
Chess Game Phases
A chess game is divided into three phases/ stages. They are the opening, the middlegame, and the endgame. Understanding these three phases is crucial if you want to learn how to play chess. We will now explain these phases.
The opening is the first stage in a chess game. It is in the opening that either player makes the first move. The opening lasts for the first few moves made by either player until castling occurs. Both players aim to play solid moves and control as many squares as possible in the opening. Here, both players develop their pieces and bring them into action. The most developed pieces are the pawns, bishops, and knights. The bishop and knights are known as minor pieces. King safety is also very important in the opening, and that is why, more often than not, a player will castle after the first few moves.
The middlegame is where a chess player’s ability to think and create a plan is tested. The middlegame begins after both players have developed their pieces and have castled. In the middlegame, players formulate strategies and tactics that will help them capture the enemy king. Checkmate is used in chess when an enemy king is captured.
As the name implies, the endgame is the final part of a chess game. Here there are very few pieces left on the board. The pieces that usually make it to the endgame are the pawns, knights, and bishops. In some special cases, the rooks and queens are also involved in the endgame. Due to the fact that there are very few pieces on the board in the endgame, it is the most technical phase of a chess game. One mistake in the endgame can cause you to lose the entire game. Therefore, it is important for anyone looking to learn how to play chess to pay extra attention to the endgame.
Understanding these three phases of a chess game is crucial for a person that wants to learn how to play chess.
Tactics and Strategies
The game of chess is like a war over the board, and in war, the major determinants of success are tactics and strategies. Although they may seem the same, in chess, tactics, and strategies are not the same. Tactics can be referred to as a move or a series of moves that result in gaining a material advantage or, in some cases winning through checkmate. On the other hand, strategy is the grand plan of how a chess game is played. Simply put, tactics are short-term plans, while strategy is long-term.
Examples of tactics are pins, forks, and skewers.
After you have gained basic knowledge of how to play chess, your next step should be looking for ways to build on the knowledge you have already gained. This is where improvement techniques come into play. It is not just enough to know how to play chess. You have to train your chess skills to get better at the game. Examples of improvement techniques are:
Books are indispensable when it comes to learning how to play chess. There are chess books that focus on every aspect of the game. You can find chess books for every skill level in chess, from the beginner to intermediate and advanced levels. These books are usually written by chess grandmasters who are experts at the game. Therefore, if you want to improve your chess ability, we highly suggest you get chess books and start studying them.
For players who do not enjoy reading books and prefer visual learning, chess videos will prove to be very helpful in explaining how to play chess. You can find tons of educational chess videos on sites like YouTube.
Chess quizzes go a long way in helping to sharpen your chess knowledge. These quizzes usually involve answering questions on different aspects of a chess game. Therefore, regularly working on chess quizzes will significantly improve your skills and help you better understand how to play chess.
Chess puzzles are a special arrangement of chess pieces on the board that pose a problem that can only be solved by applying knowledge of the game. Therefore, regular practice with chess puzzles will help to sharpen your chess skills.
And there you have it! Now, you know how to play chess.