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Rules of Chess - How to Play Chess

Rules of Chess

Equipment You Need

Very simply (and somewhat obviously) you will need a chess set and to know the rules of chess. We have two different sized Giant Chess sets here - both just as easy to play with. The smaller of the two - the Standard Garden Chess Set comes with a pvc mat, and our larger set the Giant Chess Pieces can be bought alone in case you have a patio you would like to play on, or with a mat that can be bought here also.

There should be two sets of pieces - one set in black and one in white (usually, although colours do not matter too much as long as each set is a different colour). These will each consist of 8 pawns, 2 Rooks or Castles, 2 Knights, 2 Bishops, 1 King and 1 Queen.

There should also be a chequered board containing 64 squares.

Set Up

To start with, the board is placed in between the two players so that the nearest square to them on their right is white in colour. The row nearest the player contains (in this order - from their left to their right) a Rook or Castle, the Knight, the Bishop, then leave two squares and then place the other Bishop, Knight and lastly the other Rook. The two places empty will be for the King and Queen.

The Queen always sits on the square which is the same colour as herself, so you place these accordingly. The eight pawns are then placed on the row in front of these pieces.

Object of the Game

The objective of the game is to 'capture' your opposition's King. This doesn't ever happen - so technically the objective is never completed fully.

However, the winner will be the person to put the King in a position where it would be taken if you were to have another turn without your opponent being able to do anything to stop it from happenning. When you achieve this position, you say 'checkmate' and you have won the game.

How to Play Chess

The Rules of Chess state that whoever is 'white' (or the lighter colour) will move first.

Each player moves their pieces around the board (as described below) taking an opponents pieces as they go. A piece is taken by landing on the same square as the opposing piece. When this happens, the opponents piece is removed from the board.

In the rules of Chess every piece has a specific way it can be moved as follows:

  • Pawn - if you are moving the pawn for the first time it can be moved forwards either one or two spaces. After the first move of that pawn, it can only move one space forwards. If you are taking another piece with a pawn, it has to be done diagonally.
  • Rook/Castle - can be moved in a straight line, forwards, backwards and diagonally but cannot jump other pieces. There is no limit to the amount of spaces this piece can move.
  • Kinight - this piece moves in an 'L' shape. It is theonly piece that can jump over pieces (always easy to remember by thinking of it as a horse). It can move 3 squares - but only two in the same direction at once, so it must move either two spaces in one direction, then one square to the right or left of where it landed or one space in one direction then two either right or left after it has moved one square. There is a diagram to illustrate this - the crosses are where the Knight can move to - the only square it can't move to is the one with the Bishop from its own side in.
    How to play chess
  • Bishop - can move any number of spaces in a diagonal direction. The Bishop cannot jump over another piece.
  • Queen - can move any number of spaces in any direction, but just like the Bishop, can't jump over other pieces.
  • King - can move one space at a time, in any direction unless a space is held in an attacking position by another piece from the opposite team.


The rules of Chess state that Checkmate happens when you or your opponent put the King on the opposing side in a position where it will be taken on the next turn and there is nothing that can be done to stop this from happening.

You can put your opponent's king into 'check' which means they must try to get it out of check on their next turn. They could do this by taking the piece which is threatening the King, moving the King out of harm's way or moving another piece so it blocks or protects the King.

If these things cannot be done, or will not stop the opposition from taking the King on their next go they say "Checkmate" and they have won the game.


Stalemate can occur in a few different situations these are:

  • The same pattern of pieces is repeated three times with the same player to move position each time
  • one player 'surrenders' i.e. proposes stalemate with the other player agreeing
  • It becomes impossible for either player to checkmate their opponent
  • When a player cannot move without placing the King in check.