Chess is the game of skill played between two people. It is played using specially designed pieces on a square board comprised of 64 alternating light and dark squares in eight rows of eight squares each. The vertical columns on the board that extend from one player to the other are called files, and the horizontal rows are called ranks. The diagonal lines across the board are called diagonals.

The board represents a battlefield in which two armies fight to capture each other's king. A player's army consists of 16 pieces that begin play on the two ranks closest to that player. There are six different types of pieces: king, rook, bishop, queen, knight, and pawn; the pieces are distinguished by appearance and by how they move. The players alternate moves, White going first.
King :
White's king begins the game on e1. Black's king is opposite at e8. Each king can move one square in any direction; e.g., White's king can move from e1 to d1, d2, e2, f2, or f1.

Rook :

Each player has two rooks (formerly also known as castles), which begin the game on the corner squares a1 and h1 for White, a8 and h8 for Black. A rook can move vertically or horizontally to any unobstructed square along the file or rank on which it is placed.

Bishop :

Each player has two bishops, and they begin the game at c1 and f1 for White, c8 and f8 for Black. A bishop can move to any unobstructed square on the diagonal on which it is placed. Therefore, each player has one bishop that travels only on light-coloured squares and one bishop that travels only on dark-coloured squares.

Queen :

Each player has one queen, which combines the powers of the rook and bishop and is thus the most mobile and powerful piece. The White queen begins at d1, the Black queen at d8.

Knight :

Each player has two knights, and they begin the game on the squares between their rooks and bishops--i.e., at b1 and g1 for White and b8 and g8 for Black. The knight has the trickiest move, an L-shape of two steps: first one square like a rook, then one square like a bishop, but always in a direction away from the starting square. A knight at e4 could move to f2, g3, g5, f6, d6, c5, c3, or d2. The knight has the unique ability to jump over any other piece to reach its destination. It always moves to a square of a different colour.

Capturing :
The king, rook, bishop, queen, and knight capture enemy pieces in the same manner that they move. For example, a White queen on d3 can capture a Black rook at h7 by moving to h7 and removing the enemy piece from the board. Pieces can capture only enemy pieces.

Each player has eight pawns, which begin the game on the second rank closest to each player; i.e., White's pawns start at a2, b2, c2, and so on, while Black's pawns start at a7, b7, c7, and so on. The pawns are unique in several ways. A pawn can move only forward; it can never retreat. It moves differently than it captures. A pawn moves to the square directly ahead of it but captures on the squares diagonally in front of it; e.g., a White pawn at f5 can move to f6 but can capture only on g6 or e6. An unmoved pawn has the option of moving one or two squares forward. This is the reason for another peculiar option, called en passant--that is, in passing--available to a pawn when an enemy pawn on an adjoining file advances two squares on its initial move and could have been captured had it moved only one square. The first pawn can take the advancing pawn en passant, as if it had advanced only one square. An en passant capture must be made then or not at all. Only pawns can be captured en passant. The last unique feature of the pawn occurs if it reaches the end of a file; it must then be promoted to--that is, exchanged for--a queen, rook, bishop, or knight. (see also Index: pawn promotion)

Castling :

The one exception to the rule that a player may move only one piece at a time is a compound move of king and rook called castling. A player castles by shifting the king two squares in the direction of a rook, which is then placed on the square the king has crossed. For example, White can castle kingside by moving the king from e1 to g1 and the rook from h1 to f1. Castling is permitted only once in a game and is prohibited if the king or rook has previously moved or if any of the squares between them is occupied. Also, castling is not legal if the square the king starts on, crosses, or finishes on is attacked by an enemy piece.

Relative piece values :

Assigning the pawn a value of 1, the values of the other pieces are approximately as follows: knight 3, bishop 3, rook 5, and queen 9. The relative values of knights and bishops vary with different pawn structures. Additionally, tactical considerations may temporarily override the pieces' usual relative values. Material concerns are secondary to winning.

Object of the game :

When a player moves a piece to a square on which it attacks the enemy king--that is, a square from which it could capture the king if the king is not shielded or moved--the king is said to be in check. The game is won when one king is in check and cannot avoid capture on the next move; this is called checkmate. A game also can end when a player, believing the situation to be hopeless, acknowledges defeat by resigning.

There are three possible results in chess:

win, lose, or draw. There are six ways a draw can come about: (1) by mutual consent, (2) when neither player has enough pieces to deliver checkmate, (3) when one player can check the enemy king endlessly (perpetual check), (4) when a player who is not in check has no legal move (stalemate), (5) when an identical position occurs three times with the same player having the right to move, and (6) when no piece has been captured and no pawn has been moved within a period of 50 moves.
In competitive events, a victory is scored as one point, a draw as half a point, and a loss as no points.

Historical Background :

Chess is believed to have begun in India in the 6th century or perhaps earlier. By the end of the 10th century, the game was well known throughout Europe. Chess as it exists today emerged in southern Europe towards the end of the 15th century. Some rules were modified, new rules were added, and the powers of certain pieces were increased. In the mid-19th century, chess activity was centred in Europe, where chess masters advanced the theory and practice of the game. The first truly international tournament was held in London in 1851. After the Russian Revolution in 1917, the Communist government began a programme of chess education for children. As a result, players from the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) have long dominated international chess. In recent years, the game has been influenced by computers. Computer chess programs provide enthusiasts with a chess companion that can be adjusted to play at any level.


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