Learn the Rules of Chess and Rule the Board!
from Lasker's Manual of Chess
by 2nd World Chess Champion Emanuel Lasker
ChessCentral is where you can learn the official chess rules. Learning the chess game rules can lead to the better enjoyment of any chess game. You will find all the chess rules here so that you can begin to play chess games and rule the board!
Chess is a lot like poker. The biggest difference between poker and chess is that there is (almost) always one perfect move to make in chess while there are several decent moves in a poker game. If you watch the best poker players, you'll see that their strength is in pretending to hold strong cards...with the right timing of course!
The chess game and its rules has a history that at all times has awakened interest but of which very little is known. We know some fables treating of the origin of the game, fables that are true to history only in so far as they lay the place of origin in Asia and the time of origin in a very distant past. Games similar to Chess have been discovered on Egyptian sculptures. Written documents, a thousand years old, referring to Chess, have been found. The game of Chess of those days was not, however, the game that we now know. No doubt, Chess has undergone many changes and who knows whether Draughts, or, more precisely, a game related to Draughts, was not a forefather of our Chess.
The European career of Chess began a thousand years ago. At that time it was an admired favorite in Spain, the game of the noble and the learned. In feudal castles and at the courts of princes it was cultivated; it was praised in artistic poems. For centuries it remained the aristocratic, noble, royal game, accessible only to a refined taste. Later, it penetrated through Italy and France, and at last it found a home wherever the foot of the white man trod.
Chess, as pointed out, has changed, but in its attire, in its forms only, by no means in its essence, its idea. That has remained unchanged all through the many centuries of its life. To discover this idea is therefore not difficult: at all times Chess has had the will, the intent, the meaning of picturing a war between two parties: a war of extinction, conducted according to rules, laws, in a cultured manner, yet without clemency. This becomes evident from the rules of the game almost at first sight.
The Chess Board
Let's start chess rules by looking at the chess board. The most ancient and most enduring feature of Chess is certainly the board, the table upon which it is played on the field of the Chess struggle. It consists of 64 parts everyone a small square, in their totality composing a large square. In eight rows and, perpendicularly thereto, in eight lines the 64 squares are ordered. Consequently one can draw a Chessboard by halving the side of a big square three times in succession.
The technical process of producing a Chessboard is therefore very simple, and the logical conception, neither is apprehension of the board complicated. The perception of the 64 squares by the eye is no so easy, but it has been facilitated by the use of color. The squares are alternately colored black and white, so that from time immemorial the Chessboard looks as follows:
It is of importance that the student of Chess should know the board very accurately; he should be able to visualize each square in its individual position as well as in its relations to its neighboring squares. For this reason the board has been divided into three regions: the middle and the two wings. The left wing is composed of the first and second line to the left, the right wing in the same way by the two extreme lines on the right hand, and the middle is formed by the four remaining lines, the third, fourth, fifth and sixth. In the center of this middle, four squares are situated, which form the intersection of the fourth and fifth line with the fourth and fifth row. These four squares in the center of the board have, for strategic purposes, the greatest significance.
To describe the events on the Chessboard briefly and exactly, a name has been given to every one of the 64 squares; in olden times a descriptive name, in our time, where the science of Nature and of Mathematics has become so prominent, a mathematical name. This mathematical name reminds us of a system of coordinates in the manner as introduced by Descartes. Accordingly, the eight lines, running upwards, are successively designated by the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and the eight rows running from left to right, are successively designated by the letters a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h. The "a" line, "b" line, through the "h" line is therefore a certain line; the first row, second row, through the eighth row is a certain row. Since each square belongs to one line and to one row only, its line and row unambiguously designate it. For instance, "b5" is that one square on the b file that belongs to the fifth row. According to custom the letter precedes the number: one writes b5, never 5b. Thus this notation has the advantage of naming each square without ambiguity.
Of the other notation, the descriptive one, which is in use in many countries and also in the Anglo-Saxon world, we shall speak more fully later on.
In the mathematical notation, the division of the board described above would read as follows: the left wing "a" and "b" files, the right wing "g" and "h" files, the middle c, d, e, f line, the center d4, d5, e4, e5. The boundary of the board is formed by the "a" file, the "h" file, the first rank, the eighth rank. The corners are a1, a8, h1, and h8.
The student should endeavor to acquire the habit of designating the squares and of visualizing their position. There are many Chess players who fail merely from their incapacity to master this geometrical task, not suspecting its value.
The Chess Pieces
The armies combating each other on the board consist of Black and White pieces. The White pieces form the one side, the Black pieces the antagonistic side. The two sides are briefly called White and Black. The coloring of the piece therefore determines its obedience and fidelity, unconditionally. A piece never deserts to the enemy, nor does it ever rebel; it is faithful unto death. True, if it falls in combat, it wanders from the board merely into a box where the captured pieces are kept until the next game; then it celebrates a merry and hopeful resurrection.
White and Black have equal forces. Each has a King, a Queen, two Rooks (or Castles), two Bishops, two Knights, and eight Pawns. Either party, therefore, counts sixteen pieces. The pieces stand on the board until they are captured, each piece on one square, no two pieces on the game square. At the start of the game the pieces are placed in a determined position shown hereafter, and then they are moved, the players moving alternately. Thus a struggle of the Chess pieces takes place according to determinate rules, until the King of a party is captured by force or the contestants agree upon a drawn issue.
The pieces are usually carved of wood. The King has the appearance of a crowned monarch, the Queen bears a smaller crown, the Rooks or Castles suggest sturdy castles, the Bishops have a characteristic headdress, the Knights show a horse's head, and the Pawn is like a man without distinction, a man of the crowd, a common soldier.
The move consists in transferring a piece from one square to another. White "moves" a white piece, Black a black one. Sometimes two pieces are thus put into motion, namely, when a hostile piece is "captured," i.e., removed from the board, or in "Castling," or in "Queening" a pawn, terms which will be explained later. All of this is executed according to fixed rules which the player is constrained to obey.
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