History of Chess
The origins of chess are not exactly clear, though most believe it evolved from earlier chess-like games played in India almost two thousand years ago.The game of chess we know today has been around since the 15th century where it became popular in Europe.
The Goal of Chess
Chess is a game played between two opponents on opposite sides of a board containing 64 squares of alternating colors. Each player has 16 pieces: 1 king, 1 queen, 2 rooks, 2 bishops, 2 knights, and 8 pawns. The goal of the game is to checkmate the other king. Checkmate happens when the king is in a position to be captured (in check) and cannot escape from capture.
Starting a Game
At the beginning of the game the chessboard is laid out so that each player has the white (or light) color square in the bottom right-hand side. The chess pieces are then arranged the same way each time. The second row (or rank) is filled with pawns. The rooks go in the corners, then the knights next to them, followed by the bishops, and finally the queen, who always goes on her own matching color (white queen on white, black queen on black), and the king on the remaining square.
The player with the white pieces always moves first.
Therefore, players generally decide who will get to be white by chance or luck such as flipping a coin or having one player guess the color of the hidden pawn in the other player’s hand. White then makes a move, followed by black, then white again, then black and so on until the end of the game.
How the Pieces Move
Each of the 6 different kinds of pieces moves differently. Pieces cannot move through other pieces (though the knight can jump over other pieces), and can never move onto a square with one of their own pieces. However, they can be moved to take the place of an opponent’s piece which is then captured. Pieces are generally moved into positions where they can capture other pieces (by landing on their square and then replacing them), defend their own pieces in case of capture, or control important squares in the game.
The king is the most important piece, but is one of the weakest. The king can only move one square in any direction – up, down, to the sides, and diagonally.
The queen is the most powerful piece. She can move in any one straight direction – forward, backward, sideways, or diagonally – as far as possible as long as she does not move through any of her own pieces. And, like with all pieces, if the queen captures an opponent’s piece her move is over.
The rook may move as far as it wants, but only forward, backward, and to the sides. The rooks are particularly powerful pieces when they are protecting each other and working together!
The bishop may move as far as it wants, but only diagonally. Each bishop starts on one color (light or dark) and must always stay on that color. Bishops work well together because they cover up each other’s weaknesses.
Knights move in a very different way from the other pieces – going two squares in one direction, and then one more move at a 90 degree angle, just like the shape of an “L”. Knights are also the only pieces that can move over other pieces.
Pawns are unusual because they move and capture in different ways: they move forward, but capture diagonally. Pawns can only move forward one square at a time, except for their very first move where they can move forward two squares. Pawns can only capture one square diagonally in front of them. They can never move or capture backwards. If there is another piece directly in front of a pawn he cannot move past or capture that piece.
Pawns have another special ability and that is that if a pawn reaches the other side of the board it can become any other chess piece (called promotion). A pawn may be promoted to any piece. [NOTE: A common misconception is that pawns may only be exchanged for a piece that has been captured. That is NOT true.] A pawn is usually promoted to a queen. Only pawns may be promoted.
The last rule about pawns is called “en passant,” which is French for “in passing”. If a pawn moves out two squares on its first move, and by doing so lands to the side of an opponent’s pawn (effectively jumping past the other pawn’s ability to capture it), that other pawn has the option of capturing the first pawn as it passes by. This special move must be done immediately after the first pawn has moved past, otherwise the option to capture it is no longer available.
One other special rule is called castling. This move allows you to do two important things all in one move: get your king to safety (hopefully), and get your rook out of the corner and into the game. On a player’s turn he may move his king two squares over to one side and then move the rook from that side’s corner to right next to the king on the opposite side. However, in order to castle, the following conditions must be met:
it must be that king’s very first move
it must be that rook’s very first move
there cannot be any pieces between the king and rook to move
the king may not be in check or pass through check
Notice that when you castle one direction the king is closer to the side of the board. That is called castling kingside. Castling to the other side, through where the queen sat, is called castling queenside. Regardless of which side, the king always moves only two squares when castling.
Check & Checkmate
As stated before, the purpose of the game is to checkmate the opponent’s king. This happens when the king is put into check and cannot get out of check. There are only three ways a king can get out of check: move out of the way (though he cannot castle!), block the check with another piece, or capture the piece threatening the king. If a king cannot escape checkmate then the game is over. Customarily the king is not captured or removed from the board, the game is simply declared over.
The position reaches a stalemate where it is one player’s turn to move, but his king is NOT in check and yet he does not have another legal move
The players may simply agree to a draw and stop playing
There are not enough pieces on the board to force a checkmate (example: a king and a bishop vs.a king)
A player declares a draw if the same exact position is repeated three times (though not necessarily three times in a row)
Fifty consecutive moves have been played where neither player has moved a pawn or captured a piece.
LESSONS FROM ChESS
Moreover, chess is a mirror of life, rich in metaphors for human experience. It is a pitched battle to the finish between opposing armies, yet completely non-violent, with no injuries ever reported from playing. It is a testing ground where we can experiment and act out personal dramas with no consequences other than wiping the board clean and starting over. A blend of primitive instinct and sophisticated calculation, it lets a player directly engage the mind of another human being—learning from experience, memorizing common patterns, methodically building a position, setting traps, analyzing variations, and finally moving in for the kill. And it is a canvas whereupon great players create masterpieces, like famous paintings, that can be enjoyed by generations to come.
Here are a few things I’ve learned about life by playing chess.
1. Women are powerful, men are essential.
The queen is the most powerful piece on the board, the king by contrast is plodding and slow. Yet the game can continue for dozens of moves after the queens are off the board—but once the king dies, the game ends. As in real life, women are often the centers of attention with their dazzle and flash and drama, but in the end, it is individual male leadership that decides the outcome.
2. The threat is stronger than the execution.
This is a common saying among chess players. The idea is that by threatening an action, you can nudge your opponent in a certain direction, but actually carrying out the threat may cause as many problems for you as for your opponent. The parallels with human relationships are evident.
3. Chess is 99% tactics.
Another favorite maxim. While carrying out long-term plans, you have to constantly be on the alert for immediate dangers or opportunities that can radically change the game. You may become a master player, build a strong career, and have a solid physique, but if a moment’s inattention causes you to swerve into the oncoming lane on the way home, it may be all for naught.
4. Different phases of the game require different skills.
It took me a long time to realize that chess is really three separate games—with common tactical themes and goals, to be sure, but requiring very different skill sets overall. The opening requires a lot of experience with common strategic and tactical themes, and yes, quite a bit of memorization. The middle game involves imagination and creative risk-taking. And the endgame demands exactitude and mathematical calculation.
5. Latent talent in ordinary people can become obvious after years of hard work.
Pawn promotion can be seen as a metaphor for the way in which ordinary people sometimes have unusual talents that only become apparent to others after years of diligent effort.
6. The best defense is a good offense.
A cliché in sports, this principle applies equally in chess. Even if all you want is a draw, playing passively is seldom effective against a strong opponent. You must actively work to keep the other player off-balance and create “counterplay” to distract him from his attacking plans.
7. A weakness is not a weakness unless it can be attacked.
Another way of saying, perhaps, that your limitations are self-imposed, and that something you perceive as a weakness on your part may be completely irrelevant in a given context. Thus, fixing your inner game—eliminating psychological insecurities—may be more important than addressing the weakness itself.
Culled from Cheese board online and Spanier, a middle-aged management consultant who dreams of escaping the rat race and starting a new civilization.