"Life is like a chess game-- you don't want to waste a move." -Bing Gordon

There are a lot of popular games that have parallels and similarities to real life. For instance, there's even a board game called "Life" where you go through things that happen in the real world! Nonetheless, one of the most played and loved games of all time, chess, boast various similitudes to life. How's that?

Well, for starters, chess is a game of strategy and moving pieces from one side of the board to the other. A player must carefully plan their moves and make wise playing decisions, or else they will suffer the consequences and lose against their opponent. Also, like life, it is beneficial to know how to read people when playing chess.

In all honesty, we could go on and on about the parallels between the game of chess and actual life, but we prefer that our readers discover that for themselves!

Without further ado, in today's article, we shall focus our attention on the rules, tips and tricks of chess; are you reading this The Queen's Gambit fans?

Who Sets the Rules of Chess?

understanding regulations
While some rules in life are restrictive and boring, the regulations overseen by the FIDE help organise the game of chess for all players. (Source: Unsplash)

Though rules had briefly changed since the days when chess was played in 18th century Europe, they are mostly the same and, in our time, have been established by a trustworthy organisation known as the FIDE. The FIDE stands for the Fédération Internationale des Échecs, or in English, the World Chess Federation.

The FIDE was established in 1924 in Paris, France and had the goal of organising, regulating, and planning international chess competitions. By having one corporation, the rules and regulations of chess can be closely monitored and kept the same from one country to the next.

The World Chess Federation has 190 countries as affiliate members. In 1999 the FIDE was officially recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). 

The FIDE's motto Gens Una Sumus, "We are one Family”, has the purpose of uniting individuals from different lands using the same game or sport, chess. Also, it is essential to point out that even though the FIDE tries to unify chess rules across each nation, there may be some slight modifications by some national organisations for their purposes. Since chess is such a massive game with so many playing techniques, it is wise to have an entity such as FIDE to keep everything in order.

The most up to date information about chess and its rules can be found on the FIDE website.

Uncovering The Basic Laws of Chess

Now that we've determined which organisation governs the rules of chess internationally, it is essential to analyse the regulations to know them by memory and, hopefully, win as many games as possible!

The rules of chess are various and better understood if they are separated into smaller categories to comprehend the overall game better. Therefore, we shall now consider the rules of chess in their chronological order to not distract beginners from getting it right the first time.

Setting Up the Board

Before evening knowing how to move pieces across the board strategically, it is in the student's best interest to learn how to set up the chessboard correctly to prevent looking like a fool!

The chessboard must be laid out so that both players see the white colour square on the bottom right-hand side. 

After the chessboard has been placed correctly, the pieces start are placed, and they are arranged the same way every single time. The second row from the player, or as some call it "the rank", has the eight pawns that occupy each space, both colour and white.

In the first rank or row directly in front of you, the chess pieces must be placed the following way:

  • Rooks in the corners,
  • Knights next to the rooks,
  • The bishops go beside the knights,
  • The queen always goes on her matching colour. For example, white queen on the white square, black queen on a black square,
  • The king is placed on the last remaining square.

Based on the previously mentioned information and overall quantity of squares in each rank, it is reasonable to assume that chess beginners recognise that there are the following quantities of pieces on each chessboard:

  • Eight pawns,
  • Two rooks,
  • Two knights,
  • Two bishops,
  • One queen,
  • One king.

After setting up the board correctly, it's time to start moving the pieces around!

How Each Chess Piece Moves

Since all of the chess pieces are unique, most beginners recognise that they move in different ways. Remembering how each piece moves is necessary and should be recognised at all costs since it signifies victory. A player who forgets how to move their pieces is setting themselves up for failure.

Nonetheless, it's important to state that through regular practice, a beginner chess practitioner will quickly identify the moves of each piece. 

So, how does each piece move across the board? Are there any restrictions to the way particular pieces should mobilise? Please take a look at our informative article that specifically covers the topic of how chess pieces move.

Knowing the Special Rules of Play

Along with the game strategy and knowing the basic moves of each chess piece, you can successfully win chess matches against worthy opponents. However, it is highly recommended to learn more about the special rules of play since they can enhance your technique and make you more aware of chess in its entirety.

What are the special rules of chess? Without further ado, albeit not necessarily logical to all players at first, the following are a few special rules that make chess matches more fun and interesting:

  • Castling: the special move known as castling consists of moving the king two squares towards a rook and subsequently placing the rook on the king's other side. A player must remember that they are not permitted to move the king and rook simultaneously. Castling is only allowed during certain playing conditions that may be learnt more about here.
  • En Passant: from the term “in passing”, in French, an en passant move is completed when the pawn moves out two squares on its first move and lands to the side of an opponent's pawn, successfully jumping past the opponent's pawn and avoiding capture at first; nonetheless, that other pawn has the option of capturing the first pawn as it passes by. The en passant move must be made swiftly to avoid any capture.
  • Pawn Promotion: thanks to the special rule of pawn promotion, a pawn does not always possess its weak abilities since it can be converted to a knight, bishop, rook, or queen of the same colour when it is in the eighth rank of the chessboard. The player must select the type of chess piece they wish to become; a queen is usually chosen.

The Regulations of Check and Checkmate

getting a checkmate
By capturing the most pieces and forcing the king into a corner, a winner is crowned, and a checkmate is called in a game of chess. (Source: Unsplash)

According to the rules of chess, to win a game, one must complete both a check and checkmate against the opponent's king. How is that achieved?

First and foremost, a check is successfully played when the king is under attack by at least one enemy chess piece. When a king is in check, it is almost impossible to get out of it except for the three specific moves:

  • Move the king to a square where it is not in check,
  • Capture the opponent's piece that is checking you; a player may use the king to do so,
  • Block the check by placing a piece between the king and the opponent's piece.

If it is impossible to complete any of the previously mentioned manoeuvres, the king is checkmated, and the game is completely over.

Therefore, the rules defined a checkmate as when the king was placed in check by the opponent's, and there were no legal ways to leave a check in chess. It is essential to state that, unlike other chess pieces, capturing the opponent's king at this moment is not possible.

End of Game Rules

Besides finishing the game with a check or checkmate, there is supplementary end of game rules that must be considered. Such as? The following list features some of the end match regulations and details:

  • Resigning: instead of getting to the point of check and checkmate, a player might choose to give up and concede the game to the opponent. Quitting is not highly recommended, but it is possible!
  • Dead Position: another end of a game situation that could happen in chess is known as dead position, and this because there are no rules to support the positions of pieces such as a king against the king, king against king and bishop, king against king and knight, etc.
  • Draw: sometimes, there may be no clear winner, and the game ends in a draw. There are specific situations in which a draw might happen.
  • Flag-Fall: when there are chess games played under time control, a game will end as a loss for a player who uses up all of the time on the player's clock. What is that called? Flag-fall.

Are Competition Chess Rules Different?

timers and playing time
When chess players compete professionally against themselves, there are specific things to keep in mind. (Source: Unsplash)

It is essential to state that competition rules for chess are specific and unique for matches known as "over the board" (OTB) games. The FIDE regulates OTB rules, and they are designed to make competition chess the same across all countries.

Some specific rules of competition chess might vary in the following sections of play:

  • Movement of the pieces,
  • Touch-move rule, 
  • Timing each match, 
  • Recording moves, 
  • Specific Irregularities, 
  • Sportsmanlike Conduct. 

We recommend looking at some of the competition rules on reputable online resources such as Chess.com and the FIDE website.

In conclusion, by following the general rules of chess in chronological order, a beginner chess player has the potential of quickly improving and winning as many matches as possible!

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