The Rules of Chess


My blogs mission is to write understandably about different chess topics. To you can play chess and follow this blog better, you’ve got to know the rules of chess. Preferably even the hard ones.

This blog text contains the rules of chess and some practical guiding. For a starting player, it can be hard to learn all the rules at once, so you might have to read the text many times, one chunk at a time. One, who knows the basic rules can also find something new here. I also mentioned some etiquette rules, that you’ll crash into in clubs and in live tournaments.

It was suprisingly hard to write the rules down, because when you play you learn he rules internally, but you don’t actively think about them.

I also recommend reading Wikipedia’s description of the rules. There’s illustrative videos of the rules on Youtube as well.


The Rules of Chess

The starting position of the game look like this:


The rightest and the lowest square of the board is always white from the players’ point of view.

Chess is a two-player game, where the other player plays white and the other player plays black.

The queen sits on the square of her color. King and queen are often misplaced in beginner games.

In the next table there are the looks, names, symbols and common values of the pieces.

Look Name Symbol (in English) Value
108498-200 King K Infinite
94191964 Queen Q 9
chess_piece_rook Rook R 5
bishop-chess-piece_318-60658 Bishop B 3
8da143f1edb78a68328a2a31971723ea--knight-chess-chess-pieces Knight N 3
31xX8v50oIL._SL500_AC_SS350_ Pawn 1


In the game, the white player always starts first by moving a piece. After this, players move their armies in turns until the game ends.

Moving the pieces

A pawn moves normally one square forward. However, if the pawn hasn’t been moved in the game, the player can choose to move it two steps forward. The pawn captures a piece by moving itself to a square diagonally in front of it. Capturing means, that you move the capturing piece to the square of the captured piece and take the captured piece off the board. You can’t capture a king. You can’t capture your own pieces.

When a pawn gets to the last row of the board, i’s promoted to a higher value piece. However, a pawn can’t be promoted to a king. Normally a pawn is promoted to a queen. There can be many queens on the board at the same time. In club games, a rook turned on his head is a queen. I tournament games you normally use a queen from another chess set, if you need another queen.

The paw also has a special move, that’s called en passant. If a pawn moves two squares over a square, that’s attacked by opposing side’s pawn, the opponent can capture the moved pawn with his pawn just as the player would’ve moved the pawn only one square.


Knights move and capture pieces in a L-shape. Two steps to a direction and one step to the side. It’s the only piece that can jump over other pieces.


Bishops move and capture according to diagonals. Knights and bishops are called minor pieces.


Rooks move and capture according to lines and rows.


Queens move diagonally and according to lines and rows. Rooks and queens are called major pieces.


The king I the most valuable piece in the game. It can’t be captured. The king moves one square diagonally or according to lines and rows. It can’t step on a square attacked by opposing piece. The king can’t also step on a square attacked by opposing king.

Attacking the king with a piece is called checking. In casual games, you can say “check”, when you’re checking the king. This isn’t however necessary. If the king is in check, you can stop the check by following ways:

  1. move the king to a square, that isn’t being attacked
  2. block the check by moving a piece in between the king and the attacking piece (if a knight is checking, his option doesn’t exist)
  3. capture the checking piece.

The goal of a chess game is to checkmate the opponent’s king. In a checkmate, a king is checked and the check can’t be stopped. If the game would continue, the king would be captured in the following move. You usually say “Checkmate” after checkmating the opponent to inform that the game has ended. The mating player wins the game and the one getting mated loses.

King and rooks have a special move called castling. It’s the only chess move, where you can move two of your own pieces in the same move. You can castle, if:

  1. either piece hasn’t moved in the game
  2. there are no pieces in between the king and the rook
  3. the king isn’t in check
  4. the king won’t be in check after the castling
  5. the king doesn’t jump over a square, which is attacked by an opposing piece. The rook can jump over an attacked square.

Castling happens by moving the king two squares towards the rook. Then the rook jumps over the king to a square next to the king. The king must be moved first. Kingside or short castling means the castling of the king and the rook closer to it, while queenside or long castling means the castling of the king and the rook further from it.

Drawing rules

A game of chess can end in a draw in six ways.

The first way is called perpetual check. A player checks the opposing king continuously and they can’t be prevented.

The second way is called stalemate. It’s a situation, where a king is not in check, but every move the player makes leads to his king being in check. Every move is therefore illegal and the game is a draw.

The third way is insufficient mating material. Neither player can mate each other, because there aren’t enough pieces on he board. For example, king vs king-situation and king + knight vs king-situation are these kinds of situations.

The fourth way is threefold repetition of position. If the same position is repeated three times, either player can claim a draw.

The fifth way is called the 50-move rule. If both players make 50 moves without moving a pawn, either pplayer can claim a draw.

The sixth way is a draw by agreement. In their own turn a player can ask for a draw, and if his opponent is fine with it, the game is drawn.


Other practical rules

The moves must be made with one hand.

A touched piece must be moved, if possible.

You shouldn’t distract your opponent in any way in tournaments.

If a player makes an illegal move, he either gets a warning or loses the game straight away.

A player can resign at any moment by saying “I resign”.

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