Photo shows the six types of chess pieces in the Staunton style.

Staunton style chess pieces. Left to right: king, rook, queen, pawn, knight, bishop

Photo shows two men playing chess while two more look on.

A game in a public park in Kiev, using a chess clock

The rules of chess (also known as the laws of chess) are rules governing the play of the game of chess. While the exact origins of chess are unclear, modern rules first took form during the Middle Ages. The rules continued to be slightly modified until the early 19th century, when they reached essentially their current form. The rules also varied somewhat from place to place. Today Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE), also known as the World Chess Organization, sets the standard rules, with slight modifications made by some national organizations for their own purposes. There are variations of the rules for fast chess, correspondence chess, online chess, and chess variants.

Chess is a game played by two people on a chessboard, with sixteen pieces (of six different types) for each player. Each type of piece moves in a distinct way. The goal of the game is to checkmate, i.e. to threaten the opponent’s king with inevitable capture. Games do not necessarily end with checkmate – players often resign if they believe they will lose. In addition, there are several ways that a game can end in a draw.

Besides the basic movement of the pieces, rules also govern the equipment used, the time control, the conduct and ethics of players, accommodations for physically challenged players, the recording of moves using chess notation, as well as provide procedures for resolving irregularities which can occur during a game.

Contents

[edit] Initial setup

Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
8 a8 black rook b8 black knight c8 black bishop d8 black queen e8 black king f8 black bishop g8 black knight h8 black rook 8
7 a7 black pawn b7 black pawn c7 black pawn d7 black pawn e7 black pawn f7 black pawn g7 black pawn h7 black pawn 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 a2 white pawn b2 white pawn c2 white pawn d2 white pawn e2 white pawn f2 white pawn g2 white pawn h2 white pawn 2
1 a1 white rook b1 white knight c1 white bishop d1 white queen e1 white king f1 white bishop g1 white knight h1 white rook 1
Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
Starting position

Chess is played on a chessboard, a square board divided into 64 squares (eight-by-eight) of alternating color, which is similar to that used in draughts (checkers) (FIDE 2008). No matter what the actual colors of the board, the lighter-colored squares are called “light” or “white”, and the darker-colored squares are called “dark” or “black”. Sixteen “white” and sixteen “black” pieces are placed on the board at the beginning of the game. The board is placed so that a white square is in each player’s near-right corner.

Each player controls sixteen pieces:

Piece King Queen Rook Bishop Knight Pawn
Number 1 1 2 2 2 8
Symbols Chess klt45.svg
Chess kdt45.svg
Chess qlt45.svg
Chess qdt45.svg
Chess rlt45.svg
Chess rdt45.svg
Chess blt45.svg
Chess bdt45.svg
Chess nlt45.svg
Chess ndt45.svg
Chess plt45.svg
Chess pdt45.svg

At the beginning of the game, the pieces are arranged as shown in the diagram. The second row from the player contains the eight pawns; the row nearest the player contains the remaining pieces. Popular phrases used to remember the setup, often heard in beginners’ clubs, are “queen on her own color” and “white on right”. The latter refers to setting up the board so that the square closest to each player’s right is white (Schiller 2003:16–17).

[edit] Play of the game

The player controlling the white army is named “White”; the player controlling the black pieces is named “Black”. White moves first, then players alternate moves. Making a move is required; it is not legal to skip a move, even when having to move is detrimental. Play continues until a king is checkmated, a player resigns, or a draw is declared, as explained below. In addition, if the game is being played under a time control players who exceed their time limit lose the game.

The official chess rules do not include a procedure for determining who plays White. Instead, this decision is left open to tournament-specific rules (e.g. a Swiss system tournament or Round-robin tournament) or, in the case of non-competitive play, mutual agreement, in which case some kind of random choice is often employed.

[edit] Movement

[edit] Basic moves

Basic moves of a king

Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
8 8
7 7
6 e6 cross f6 cross g6 cross 6
5 e5 cross f5 white king g5 cross 5
4 e4 cross f4 cross g4 cross 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
Moves of a rook

Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
8 d8 cross 8
7 d7 cross 7
6 d6 cross 6
5 a5 cross b5 cross c5 cross d5 white rook e5 cross f5 cross g5 cross h5 cross 5
4 d4 cross 4
3 d3 cross 3
2 d2 cross 2
1 d1 cross 1
Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
Moves of a bishop

Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
8 a8 cross g8 cross 8
7 b7 cross f7 cross 7
6 c6 cross e6 cross 6
5 d5 white bishop 5
4 c4 cross e4 cross 4
3 b3 cross f3 cross 3
2 a2 cross g2 cross 2
1 h1 cross 1
Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
Moves of a queen

Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
8 d8 cross h8 cross 8
7 a7 cross d7 cross g7 cross 7
6 b6 cross d6 cross f6 cross 6
5 c5 cross d5 cross e5 cross 5
4 a4 cross b4 cross c4 cross d4 white queen e4 cross f4 cross g4 cross h4 cross 4
3 c3 cross d3 cross e3 cross 3
2 b2 cross d2 cross f2 cross 2
1 a1 cross d1 cross g1 cross 1
Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
Moves of a knight

Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
8 8
7 7
6 c6 cross e6 cross 6
5 b5 cross f5 cross 5
4 d4 black knight 4
3 b3 cross f3 cross 3
2 c2 cross e2 cross 2
1 1
Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
Moves of a pawn

Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
8 8
7 b7 black rook c7 cross d7 black rook 7
6 c6 white pawn 6
5 5
4