chess moves and tactics

Chess basics

I put this small guide together for those of you who have just heard of chess, or have suddenly become interested in learning how to play chess, but can't seem to find the basics anywhere. Most chess books and websites already assume you know some basic fundamentals of chess, which is why your buying the book/viewing the website, and decide to skip the important bits like how you actually move the pieces. So, if your one of those people who wants to learn a bit more about chess and how to play, read on. I will also be covering some basic opening moves and tactics later on.


Chess board

The chess board is set up so that a white square is on the bottom- right corner. The pawns (they're the only ones that you should have more than two copies of for your color) are placed on the second row from the side that you are sitting on. On the first row, from left to right, should be placed the:

Rook (also called the castle or elephant, looks like a castle turret in most cases)- Knight (Usually looks like a horse or knight sitting on a horse......this piece can also, shockingly, be called a horse)- Bishop (can also be called the camel)- King/Queen (depending on if your playing black or white, the king or queen will be placed  here. The way to remember which one is placed here is by remembering that the queen goes on her color. So, if your playing black, the queen will go on a black square, and if your playing white, they the queen will go on a white square. If the square doesn't match the color, move onto the next square and place the queen there.)- King/Queen (If the queen was placed on the last square, then the king goes here. If the king was placed on the last square, the queen goes here)- Bishop- Knight- Rook.

Chess moves

So now that you've set up the board, how exactly do the pieces move? Well, each piece moves differently, and it can get a bit confusing remembering all the ways that they move. Here's a guide for each piece-

Pawn: The pawn can only move in a straight line, unless it is capturing an enemy piece (capturing will be explained in more detail later), in which case it can move diagonally to capture the piece. A pawn can not capture a piece that is on the same line as it is. If the pawn is still on the second row, it can move two steps forward or one step forward. After that, it can only take one step at a time. The pawn can not move backwards.

Rook: The rook can move sideways or forward and backwards. It can move an unlimited amount of squares, as long as it does not jump any pieces.

Bishop: The bishop can move diagonally forward or backward. Since it only moves diagonally, the bishop should always remain on the color it started on. It can move an unlimited amount of squares, as long as it does not jump any pieces.

Queen: The queen can move forward, backward, and diagonally. This is possibly your most powerful piece, so be careful not to lose it in exchange for a lesser piece. It can move an unlimited amount of squares, as long as it does not jump any pieces.

King: Can only take one step in any direction.

Knight: At this point your probably wondering why I decided to skip the knight, when I was going in order from left to right. The answer is because out of all the pieces, this is the one that most people get confused about. The knight moves in an "L" shape. This means that it can take two steps forward and one step left/right, two steps backward and one step left/right, two steps right and one step forward/backward, or two steps left and one step forward/backward. It can not move two steps diagonally and then move one step. Also the knight, unlike any other piece, can move over pieces. This means that you can jump over your opponents pieces as well as your own.

How the knight moves.
How the knight moves. | Source

Chess rules

Now that you've finished learning how to move your pieces, it's time to learn some chess rules.

1) No piece, except for the knight, can jump over another piece.

2) Once a piece has been let go of, that move is final. There is no retracting a move once the piece is moved.

3) White always plays first.

4)If a pawn reaches the opposite side of the board from which it started, it may change to any piece that the player desires, as long as it is of the same color.

5)If there are no pieces between the king and a rook, they are still in their original places, and the king is not in check, then the rook and king may "castle". In this case, the king takes two steps towards the rook. The rook then moves in the opposite direction of the king, until it is one step farther than the king.

6)If a piece is targeting a king, the king is in check. The king must be moved, the piece that is targeting the king must be captured, or another piece can block the check (place a piece so that the opponents piece is no longer targeting the king). A king can not move into a square which will cause a check. When a piece of yours targets the opponents king, you should say "Check" out loud.

7)If a king is in check, but can not move to any other move without remaining in check, it is called checkmate. Once a king is in checkmate, the game is over, and the person who controls the king that is in checkmate loses. If you checkmate a king, you should say "Checkmate" out loud.

8)If a piece moves onto a square that is holding an opposing piece, the piece that was originally on the square is considered "captured". The captured piece is removed from the game, and can not re-enter unless a pawn reaches the other side of the board.

Chess tactics

One of the most important chess tactics is the opening move. The opening move can allow you to move your pieces out of their starting position, and take control of the board at an early stage. Or, it could hamper your pieces and cause you to lose the game. This is why chess tactics and opening moves play an important part in any chess game.


Usually in most chess games, a struggle occurs for the center of the board. A piece in the center can move in more directions than in any other position, and thus has more control over the board. A good way to start controlling the center is by moving a knight so that it can target a few of the squares, and then moving your pawns so that they target the same squares, or are placed on the square.

Scholars mate-

A great move if your playing white, or an important move to watch out for if your playing black. White starts out by moving the pawn in front of its king two steps. After black plays, white plays the white bishop so that it is on the same row as the pawn. After black plays again, the white queen moves diagonally to the last white square available. After black plays again, the queen takes the pawn that is diagonal to the king. Since the bishop is supporting the queen, the king is in mate. An alternative is to move the queen to the white square that is on the same line as the pawn taken in the last step. While black can easily counter this in the three moves that it plays, it's an easy victory over novice chess players.


I hope you enjoyed learning the basics of chess. While it may seem a bit confusing at the beginning, it can be extremely fun later on, as long as you remember to just keep practicing! Most computers allow you to play chess, and there are some great websites for playing chess. Just remember to never give up!


I would like to thank Porshadoxus for the corrections that he spotted, as well as the information he cited. If anybody notices any more mistakes, please let me know, and I'll do my best to correct them.

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Comments 3 comments

Porshadoxus profile image

Porshadoxus 5 years ago from the straight and narrow way

"4)If a pawn reaches the opposite side of the board from which it started, it may change to any piece that the player desires."

This is not entirely correct. You may promote your pawn to a piece of your color, not any piece.

"5)If there are no pieces between the king and a rook, they are still in their original places, and the king has not been checked, then the rook and king may "castle". In this case, the king takes two steps towards the rook. The rook then moves in the direction of the king, until it is one step ahead of the king."

This also needs clarification. The king cannot be in check, but having been checked in the past is fine. Also, the rook moves to the opposite side of the king, not ahead of the king.

You forgot the en passant rule. When a white pawn is moved to the 5th rank, followed by an adjacent black pawn being moved two squares to avoid capture, the white player may, on his next move only, move his white pawn diagonally behind the black pawn and capture it. The same applies for the black player, just reverse the ranks.

Regarding your rule 4, there is one historic example of promoting to the opponent's piece to block the King's escape and force mate. The story can be found , in brief, here:

Under the following heading:

1862 British Chess Association rule

The 4 step finish you describe is called the 'Scholar's Mate'.

Balmung profile image

Balmung 5 years ago Author

Thanks for the corrections. I'll implement them first chance I get. I wasn't sure if I would add the en passant rule, since it is not usually used in informal play, but considering that these are the basic chess rules, I agree that it should be included. Please let me know if there is anything else I missed.

naturalsolutions 5 years ago

I think there's nothing else you've missed, basically the chess game has a very simple rules and almost everybody who studied in grade school knows it. Playing chess is a mind game only the wise and smart can rule this game. You need 1% luck and 99% mind in this game. Why 1% luck? because there is a time that even a chess master take a wrong move accidentally. And 99% mind to do your best tactics, decision and game plans.

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