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The Rules of Chess

The following sections contain some basic chess rules quoted from the official rules of chess as laid down by the International Chess Federation (F.I.D.E.). The same numbering system as F.I.D.E. is employed. Each of the rules is given with an example or explanation. For some supplemental rules for tournament play with and between blind players, go to Supplemental Rules for playing with and between blind players. Now enjoy your chess to the full!


The game of chess is played between two opponents by moving pieces on a square board called a "chessboard".


2.1 The chessboard is composed of 64 equal squares alternately light (the "white" squares) and dark (the "black" squares).

2.2 The chessboard is placed between the players in such a way that the corner square to the right of each player is white.

2.3 The eight rows of squares running from one edge of the chessboard nearest one player to the nearest the other player are called "files".

2.4 The eight rows of squares running from one edge of the chessboard to the other at right angles to the files are called "ranks".

2.5 The rows of squares of the same color, touching corner to corner, are called "diagonals".
Special Note: For simplicity, RANKS are numbered from 1-8 while FILES are numbered from A-H. Thus, A8 is the top left square.


3.1 At the beginning of the game, one player has 16 light-colored pieces (the "white" pieces), the other has 16 dark-colored pieces (the "black" pieces).

3.2 These pieces are as follows:
A white king A white queen Two white rooks Two white bishops Two white knights Eight white pawns
A black king A black queen Two black rooks Two black bishops Two black knights Eight black pawns

3.3 The initial position of the pieces on the chessboard is,
from white's left:
rook, knight, bishop, queen, king, bishop, knight rook.

From black's left:
rook, knight, bishop, king, queen, bishop, knight, rook.


4.1 The two players must alternate in making one move at a time. The player with the white pieces commences the game.

4.2 A player is said to "have the move" when it is his turn to play.


5.1 With the exception of castling (Article 6.1.1), a move is the transfer of a piece from one square to another square which is either vacant or occupied by an enemy piece.

5.2 No piece except the rook, when castling, and the knight (Article 6.5) may cross a square occupied by another piece.

5.3 A piece played to a square occupied by an enemy piece captures it as part of the same move. The captured piece must be immediately removed from the chessboard by the player making the capture. See Article 6.6.3 for capturing "en-passant".


6.1 The KING: The King can move one square in any direction.
The King, except when castling (Article 6.1.1), may move to any adjoining square that is not attacked by an enemy piece.

6.1.1 CASTLING is a move of both the king and either rook, counting as a single move (of the king), executed as follows:
the king is transferred, from its original square, two squares toward either rook on the same rank; then that rook toward which the king has been moved is transferred over the king to the square immediately adjacent to the king.
CASTLING is illegal (a) if the king has already been moved, or (b) if the rook has already been moved.
CASTLING is prevented for the time being: (a) if the king's original square (6.1.2) or the square which the king must cross (6.1.4) or that which it is to occupy is attacked by an enemy piece (6.1.3) or (b) if there is any piece between the king and the rook toward which the king is to be moved (6.1.3).

6.3 The ROOK: The rook can move any number of squares vertically or horizontally if its path is unobstructed.

6.4 The BISHOP: The bishop moves diagonally in any direction if its path is unobstructed.

6.5 The Knight: The knight's move is L-shaped. It always moves two squares in a straight line and then one square at a right angle and must end on a square the opposite color from the one on which it started.

6.6 The PAWN: The pawn may move only forward.
6.6.1 Except when making a capture, it advances from its original square either one or two vacant squares along the file on which it is placed, and on subsequent moves it advances one vacant square along the file. When capturing, it advances one square along either of the diagonals on which it stands.
6.6.3 En-passant: A pawn attacking a square crossed by an enemy pawn which has advanced two squares in one move from its original square may capture this enemy pawn as though the latter had been moved only one square. This capture may be made only on the move immediately following such an advance and is called capturing "en-passant".
6.6.4 PAWN promotion: On reaching the last rank, a pawn must be immediately exchanged, as part of the same move, for a queen, a rook, a bishop, or a knight of the same color as the pawn, at the player's choice and without taking into account the other pieces still remaining on the chessboard. This exchanging of a pawn is called 'promotion' and the action of the promoted piece is immediate.
Special Note: 1. A pawn can be promoted to a queen, rook, knight or bishop. But normally a queen will be chosen as the most valuable piece.

Note: Articles 7, 8, 9 are omitted as they are not applicable to chess computers


10.1 The king is in check when the square it occupies is attacked by an enemy piece; in this case the latter is said to be 'checking the king'.

10.2 Check must be parried by the move immediately following. If the check cannot be parried, it is said to be 'CHECKMATE'.

10.3 A piece blocking a check to the king of its own color can itself give check to the enemy king.


11.1 The game is won by the player who has checkmated his opponent's king.

11.2 The game is won by the player whose opponent declares he resigns.

Note: Part If of the FIDE Laws of chess, specify the Supplementary Laws for Competitions. They are available from your national chess Federation.


The game is drawn -
1. When the king of the player whose turn it is to move is not in check and the player cannot make any legal move. The game is then said to be "STALEMATE".
2. By agreement between the two players.
3. Upon demand by one of the players when the same position appears three times, the same player having the move each time. The position is considered the same if pieces of the same kind and color occupy the same squares and if the possible moves of all the pieces are the same.
4. When a player having the move demonstrates that at least fifty consecutive moves have been made by each side without the capture of any piece or the movement of any pawn.

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