Basic Chess Rules:
Part of the Beginner's Chess Guide (Section 1)

Basic Chess Rules


Jump to:

- Movement
- Castling
- En Passant
- Pawn Promotion
- Check & Checkmate
- Draws
- Resigning
- Competition Rules

Chess Pawn Warrior Flaming Animation, Chess-Game-Strategies.com Pawn Warrior
This page provides the Basic Chess Rules -- a kind of low-fat, diet version of what can be found elsewhere.

It's enough to get you started with the minimum of fuss, so you'll know what you can and cannot do on the board ...

Want To Know IT ALL?

Should you need to know more, the World Chess Federation (FIDE) have a complete Handbook, available to read online where, among other key topics of officialdom, you'll find the Laws of Chess.

Basic Chess Rules
- Movement -

Pawns

  • A Pawn can only move one square per turn, as long as there isn't another piece already on that square.

  • The only time a Pawn can move TWO squares, is during it's first move. All subsequent moves return to ONE square forward per turn. Should it only be moved one square on its first move, the option to move the two squares is no longer available.

  • A Pawn can only move FORWARDS - never backwards, in ANY direction.

  • A Pawn can only CAPTURE diagonally, within its legal range of movement.

Knights

  • The Knight is the only piece on the board that can jump over another piece to get to another square - be it to capture or move.

  • The Knight moves in an L-shape either first two squares, then one to left or right; OR first one square, then two to the left or right.

  • Besides the Pawn, the Knight is the only other piece that has a legal move from the very start of a game.

  • The Knight CANNOT capture merely by jumping over, it has to actually land on the square containing an enemy piece, at the end of its legal move pattern.

Bishops

  • A Bishop can only move and capture along the diagonals; it cannot move on the straights, be it forward/backward, left/right.

  • A Bishop may move to any square providing it's in line of sight along its diagonal move pattern.

Rooks

  • Rooks can only move and capture along the straight lines; they cannot move along the diagonals, unlike the Bishop

  • A Rook may move to any square providing it's in line of sight along the straights - be it forward/backward, left/right.

  • The Rook is involved in the Castling manouvre with the King, BUT it's the King that makes the initial move.

Queens

  • The Queen can move and capture on any square in line of sight. She can move on the straights, like the Rook, and on the diagonals, like the Bishop.

Kings

  • The King is restricted to one square move per turn, but can move in any direction - straights or diagonals.

  • The King may capture in any direction providing it's within its legal move range and as long as it won't be put in Check by doing so.

Jump to:

- Movement
- Castling
- En Passant
- Pawn Promotion
- Check & Checkmate
- Draws
- Resigning
- Competition Rules

Basic Chess Rules
- Castling -

  • Only the King and Rook are involved in the Castling manouvre

  • Castling can take place on either the Queen's side OR the King's side of the board - but NOT both in one game.

  • To Castle, first move the King toward the Rook and then hop the Rook over to the outside square, thus protecting the King.

  • Castling can only take place if there are no pieces between the King and the Rook, whether it's on the King's side, OR the Queen's side of the board.

  • Castling CANNOT take place if the King has already moved prior to the opportunity becoming available.

  • If the King is currently in Check, Castling CANNOT be used to escape. Either the King would have to move out of Check - thus void opportunity to Castle - or a supporting piece would have to move or capture to get the King out of Check, which would keep the Castling option available.

Jump to:

- Movement
- Castling
- En Passant
- Pawn Promotion
- Check & Checkmate
- Draws
- Resigning
- Competition Rules

Basic Chess Rules
- En Passant -

  • En Passant is a special capture move available exclusively between Pawns; no other piece can be captured by a Pawn with En Passant.

  • En Passant can happen only when a Pawn advances TWO squares on its first move to sit level with an enemy Pawn.

  • With the two Pawns now level, the attacking Pawn may capture by moving to the diagonal square now one behind the enemy Pawn.

  • Capture by En Passant MUST take place immediately, else the opportunity will be gone next time around, even if the same two Pawns are still level/next to each other.

Jump to:

- Movement
- Castling
- En Passant
- Pawn Promotion
- Check & Checkmate
- Draws
- Resigning
- Competition Rules

Basic Chess Rules
- Pawn Promotion -

  • By getting a Pawn to the opponent's back-row, it may be exchanged for either an extra: Knight, Bishop, Rook, or Queen

Jump to:

- Movement
- Castling
- En Passant
- Pawn Promotion
- Check & Checkmate
- Draws
- Resigning
- Competition Rules

Basic Chess Rules
- Check & Checkmate -

  • Check is declared when a King is directly threatened by an enemy piece.

  • When the King is in Check all other options to move can only result in getting the King OUT of Check - whether it's by capturing the attacking piece, by moving a piece to block line of sight, or by moving the King out of the danger square.

  • Checkmate is GAME OVER and is declared if the King is in Check and all other moves - by supporting pieces or the King itself - would still result in the King being in Check.

Jump to:

- Movement
- Castling
- En Passant
- Pawn Promotion
- Check & Checkmate
- Draws
- Resigning
- Competition Rules

Basic Chess Rules
- Draws -

  • A game is declared a Draw if the King is not in Check but would be in Check if it had to move to any other square - within legal range - on the board.

  • If 50 moves have been made without a Pawn being moved or a piece being captured, a Draw will be declared. This is known as the 50-move Rule.

  • Either player can make an offer for a Draw at any time, but a game can only be declared a Draw if BOTH players agree on the matter.

Jump to:

- Movement
- Castling
- En Passant
- Pawn Promotion
- Check & Checkmate
- Draws
- Resigning
- Competition Rules

Basic Chess Rules
- Resigning -

  • A player may choose to Resign at any stage of the game. This usually happens if the player forsees they will probably lose the game.

  • A wish to Resign must be declared verbally for it to be accepted.

  • If playing with a proper Chess Set, a player may also show their intent to resign by tipping the King onto its side.

Jump to:

- Movement
- Castling
- En Passant
- Pawn Promotion
- Check & Checkmate
- Draws
- Resigning
- Competition Rules

Basic Chess Rules
- Competition Rules -

If you have ambitions for competing, it's not a bad idea to play to Competition Rules from the very beginning - better than having to un-learn bad habits later on.

  • Moving pieces is to be done by one hand only and, once the hand is removed, the piece may NOT be moved elsewhere.

  • The Touch-move Rule is enforced so that, if a piece is selected or touched, it MUST be moved.

For a complete list of Rules relating to Competitions and Tournaments, check out FIDE's Tournament Rules webpage.


Jump to:

- Movement
- Castling
- En Passant
- Pawn Promotion
- Check & Checkmate
- Draws
- Resigning
- Competition Rules


From this guide about the Basic Chess Rules,
Return to the Beginners Chess Guide (Section 1)
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