Chess Introduction: How to Play

By Derrick McCullough

Chess is a two-player strategy board game played on a chessboard, a checkered gameboard. The game is played by millions of people worldwide.
Each player begins the game with 16 pieces: one king, one queen, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, and eight pawns.

The goal of the game is to checkmate one’s opponent, which means the king is in “check” and there is no way to get out of check.

To the contrary, when the king is not in check and the player has no legal moves, he is in stalemate and no one wins.

Each type of piece has its own unique movements:

  • The king can move one square in any direction.
  • The queen can move any number of squares along a rank, file, ordiagonal.
  • The rook can move any number of squares along a rank or file.
  • The bishop can move any number of squares diagonally.
  • The knight moves to any of the squares immediately adjacent to it, then makes a separate, 90-degree turn and moves to an adjacent square on that line, essentially moving in an “L” shape. Knights are the only pieces that can “jump” over other pieces.

• Pawns can move forward one square, but capture diagonally. They have the option to move two squares forward on their first move, but only if they have not moved yet. En passant is a special rule about pawn movement; learn about that here.


Evan Rabin is the founder and CEO of Premier Chess, a chess education and training company. Premier Chess offers a variety of chess programs and services, including corporate classes, school programs, private lessons, group classes, online training and tournaments for players of all levels. Premier Chess aims to promote the benefits of chess and make the game more accessible to a wider audience.

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