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Learn How to Play Chess Instructions

Learn How To Play Chess
Chess instructions with pictures / diagrams to learn how to play the game of chess while online.

The game of chess is played between two people.
One person uses the light pieces, and the other person uses the dark pieces. 
At the beginning of the game, the pieces are set up as pictured below.


This information will help you to remember the board setup.

The Light Queen goes on a light square, the Dark Queen on a dark square ("Queen on color"). 
The square in the lower right hand corner is a light one, i.e. "light on right". 
The opposing Kings and Queens go directly opposite of each other. 
Light moves first, and then each player takes a turn moving. 
During each players turn, only one piece may be moved. 
Castling is the only exception to this rule (this move will be explained later). 
The Knight is the only piece that can jump over other pieces. 
All other pieces can only move along unblocked lines. 
You may not move a piece to a square already occupied by one of your own pieces. 
But you can capture an enemy piece that stands on a square where one of your pieces can move. 
Simply remove the enemy piece from the board and put your own piece in its place.

The Pieces

The Queen
The Queen is the strongest piece. 
It can move an unlimited number of squares in one direction, i.e. horizontal, vertical, or diagonal, 
as long as she isn't blocked by any other piece. 
The Queen can move to any of the squares with dots in this picture.

queen chessboard

The Rook
The Rook is the next most powerful piece. 
The Rook can move an unlimited number of squares in one direction, vertically or horizontally, 
provided its path isn't blocked by another piece.

rook chessboard

The Bishop
The Bishop can move an unlimited number of squares diagonally if its path is not blocked.
In the picture below, the Bishop starts on a light square and can move only to other light squares. 

bishop chessboard

The Knight
The Knight can jump over other pieces between its old position and it's new position. 
The Knight always forms an "L" moving a total of three spaces. 
The square the Knight lands on is always the opposite color of it's original square..

knight chessboard

The King
If you lose your King, you lose the game.
The King moves one square in any direction. 
The King may never move onto a square which the opponent can capture it on (this is called check). 
The King can move to any of the squares with dots on them in this picture. 
The King can "castle" which is explained later.

king chessboard

The Pawn
The Pawn only moves forward, but it captures diagonally. 
It moves one square at a time, but on its first move it can move forward one or two squares. 
The squares on which these pawns may capture are indicated by an X. 
If a pawn advances to the opposite end of the board, it is immediately " promoted" to another piece, 
usually a Queen (never a King or Pawn). 
Therefore, it is possible for each player to have more than one Queen or other pieces on the board at the same time.

Special Moves

Castling can only be done once by each player. 
Castling lets a player move the King and one Rook. 
In castling, the King moves two squares to its left or right toward one of his Rooks. 
At the same time, the Rook involved goes to the square beside the King and toward the center of the board. 
Neither the King, nor the Rook involved may have moved before. 
Also, the King may not castle out of check, into check, or through check. 
No pieces of either color can be between the King and the Rook. 
Castling allows you to place your King in a safe location, 
and also allows the Rook to become more active. 
Each player can castle either on the King side or Queen side. 

King Side Castling
king side castling

Queen Side Castling
queen side castling

En Passant
In French it means "in passing," and it occurs when one player moves a pawn two squares forward
to try to avoid capture by the opponent's pawn. 
The capture is made the same as if the player had moved the pawn only one square forward. 
If the Light player does not play this move immediately, before making some other move, 
the Dark pawn is safe from "en passant" capture. 
The chance for En Passant occurs when each pawn moves under similar circumstances.

en passant chessboard

Check, Checkmate, and Stalemate

Checkmating your opponent is the goal of chess. 
If your opponent gets your King into check they must announce this by saying "check".

If you are in check, there are three ways of getting out.

1. Capture the attacking piece.

2. Put one of your own pieces between the attacker and your King. 
( This will not work if the attacker is a Knight.)

3. Move the King out of check.

If the King can not move out of check, he is "checkmated" and loses the game.

If your King is not in check, but you can not make a legal move, 
this is called a "stalemate" and the game is scored as a draw, or tie.