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Chris Fox's Chess Section


Basic Rules

Chess is played on an 8 x 8 square board of alternate light and dark squares. The board is placed between the players so that each player has a light square in his near right hand corner ("White on the right"). The lines running along the board - from player to player - are called files, and those running across the board are called ranks.

One player plays with the white pieces, the other with the black pieces. At the start of the game, each player has: eight pawns (♙ ♟), each worth 1 point; two knights (♘ ♞), each worth 3¼ points; two bishops (♗ ♝), each worth 3½ points; two rooks (♖ ♜), each worth 5 points; a queen (♕ ♛), worth 9 points; and a king (♔ ♚).

Each player's pieces, other than the pawns, start on the rank nearest the player. From the point of view of the one playing white, the order from the left hand edge is: rook, knight, bishop, queen, king, bishop, knight, rook. The pawns occupy the rank immediately in front of the other pieces of the same colour. It will be noticed that the white queen starts on a light square and the black queen starts on a dark square. Chess diagrams are drawn such that the white pieces start at the bottom.

The players take it in turns to move, white moving first. Except when castling (see later), a player may only move one piece in any move.

A piece may not move to a square occupied by a piece of the same colour. If it moves to a square occupied by an opposing piece, that other piece is captured and removed from the board.

A piece is said to attack a square if it could move to that square on its next move. This applies even if the piece cannot yet move because it would expose its own king to attack (see later).

Normally, the pawn moves one square forward. On its first move, however, it may move either one or two squares forward. Either way, it cannot move to or over an occupied square. The pawn is the only piece whose capturing move is different to its normal move: it captures by moving one square forward along a diagonal.

The knight moves two squares along a rank or file then one square at right angles; it therefore has an L-shaped move. Except during castling, the knight is the only piece that can pass over other pieces.

The bishop may move any number of squares along a diagonal, its movement constrained only by the presence of other pieces.

The rook may move any number of squares along a rank or file, subject to the same condition as the bishop.

The queen may move any number of squares along a rank, file or diagonal, subject to the same condition as the bishop and rook.

The king may move only one square in any direction.

If a pawn is on the fifth rank (from its owner's point of view), and an opposing pawn on an adjacent file, yet to move, moves forward two squares, the former may capture the latter as though the latter had moved only one square. This move is termed en passant ("in passing"). A pawn may only be captured in this way on the move immediately following its two-square advance.

Any pawn that reaches the far end of the board is exchanged, as part of the same move, for any other piece except a king. The pawn is removed from the board and the new piece put in its place. This is called promotion. The player does not have to choose from pieces that have already been captured; so he can have two or more queens, or three or more rooks, bishops or knights.

Castling is another special move. The king is moved two squares towards the rook, which is then moved to the square the king crossed. A player may not castle if the king has already moved or with a rook that has already moved. Furthermore, castling is not allowed where the king moves from, to or over a square that is attacked by an opposing piece. Finally, a player may not castle if any piece lies between the king and rook on that side of the board.

A player's target is the opposing king. The king cannot be captured, but if it is attacked it is said to be in check. A player whose king is in check must get it out of check on the next move; this can be done by capturing the checking piece, by placing another piece between that piece and the king (This is not possible if the checking piece is a knight), or by moving the king. A player may not place or leave his king in check or expose it to check, and may not move it next to the opposing king.

The object of the game is to reach a position where the opposing king cannot avoid being captured on the next move. The situation is called checkmate, and the player who checkmates the opposing king wins. A player also wins if the opponent resigns; the usual way to resign is to knock over one's king.

If the player with the turn to move is not in check but has no legal move available, the situation is called stalemate and the game is drawn. A game also ends in a draw if the remaining pieces are insufficient for either player to win, if the same position occurs three times with the same player to move each time (three time repetition), if both players have made the last 50 moves without a capture or pawn move (50 move rule), or if the players agree to a draw.


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