How to Play Chess

Chess is a game that most people know about, and most people will probably know vaguely about the rules. But if you ask the average Joe exactly how you play the game, they may struggle to give you an answer. Here is the guide on how to play to chess.

The History of Chess

chess pieces - How to Play ChessBefore you learn how to play it, it’s probably useful, or at least interesting, to learn about the history of the game, and how it came into prominence and became so well-known around the world. Chess is a game that goes back many centuries. It was believed to be invented in India around 1,500 years ago. From there, as cultural exchanges increased between countries through the centuries, the game spread around the world.

The Rules

To play the strategic game of chess well, you obviously need to know the rules. Although the rules of chess may appear a bit mind-boggling initially, they’re actually pretty simple. It is a two-player game, with one player designated white, and the other black. The white player always plays first. There are six pieces which are used in Chess:

  • King (1 piece), – Resembles a king’s crown. Can move one square in any direction.
  • Queen (1 piece), – Resembles a queen’s crown. Moves in a straight line, but diagonally only. No limits on number of squares it can move.
  • Rook (2 pieces), – Resembles a castle turret of sorts. It can move vertically or horizontally across the board with no limit on how far, but it cannot change direction during a move.
  • Bishop (2 pieces), – Moves diagonally with no limit on how far. Can be moved on squares that have the opposite colour.
  • Knight (2 pieces), – Resembles a horse’s head. It can move diagonally from one corner to the opposite corner. Can move over any other piece in its path, the only piece to be able to do so.
  • Pawn (8 pieces), – The most common piece in the game, they can only be moved forward a single square. If there is an opponent’s piece to the left or right of the pawn ahead, the pawn can take it.
  • There are 16 pieces per player in total.

How Can You Win at Chess?

If the king is “in check” it means that it is threatened to be captured by your opponent. If the king is in this position, the player needs to move it in order to prevent its capture, capture the piece which is trying to attack them, or block their attack somehow. This last tactic will not work if the piece threatening to capture the king is a knight.


When checkmate is achieved, the game is won. This is where you attack your opponent’s king so that it can’t move without being captured. You don’t literally capture it; once it is known that capture will occur, you can proclaim “checkmate” and you win. A player can also concede defeat if you know it’s going to happen. A draw can happen, most commonly this through a stalemate. This is when neither player can win and so a draw is proclaimed. Interestingly, this term is also now used in other sports, such as football, when both teams end with an equal score, but it derives from chess.