How To Play Chess: 7 Tactics to Win, Rules and Strategy

how to play chess
November 5, 2020

Chess is one of the most popular and respected board games across the world. The game develops the mind and improves critical thinking ability. Famous professional chess players are recognized as individuals with a high Intelligence Quotient, and this may prove how much logic is required for the game. Learn how to play chess in this guide.

Winning in this board game requires you to know some chess instructions as well as a working chess strategy. The chess game is played by two players moving chess pieces around on an 8 x 8 chessboard. Each player aims to put the opponent’s King under attack without an escape route, to win the game.

More often than not, the game doesn’t end in an outright win. You may have a player surrender or even have a draw, which can be decided if certain conditions exist.

Despite being mentally demanding, Chess is one of the most entertaining board games you can have, so long as you understand the rules and principles guiding the game. The rules of the game are simple to learn even for a beginner.

If you want to learn how to play Chess for beginners, play chess better, or play chess basics, this is the right article for you. You also might have played the game, but you want to learn how to play Chess and win, stay tuned to the following pages for tips on being a better chess player.

The chess game can be played in person or online; the rules are the same. This post teaches how to play Chess online and offline. You will get chess instruction and the chess strategy to develop and improve your skills in the game. Chess tutorial gives a practical approach to learning how to play a chess game.

At the end of this article, you would have had answers to the following questions on the game of Chess:

  • What is Chess? 
  • How to play the chess game? 
  • What are the basic rules of Chess? 
  • How do the pieces move in Chess? 
  • How do I become a great Chess Player? 
  • How do I play a Chess game and win?

What is Chess?

Chess is a board game played by two players, which involves each player moving sixteen chessmen or pieces across the chessboard with the primary aim to checkmate the opponent’s King, which results in victory according to the game’s rule. 

chess gamer

Often, the chess game might not end up in a win. The game could end as a draw, or any of the players could resign or surrender when they realize they might lose the game in the end.

Checkmate is a term used in the game indicating that the King is under attack, and there are no legal moves to bring the King to safety. A king is in check when any of the chess pieces threatens to capture the King.

chess board

To bring the King to safety, you can either use one of its men to block the attack, move the King to a square that is not under threat or capture the chess piece threatening the King. When any of these moves cannot be made, the King is said to be a checkmate, and that player loses the game. 

The chessboard is checkered with 64 squares of alternating dark and light colors. The board is labeled horizontally from a-h and vertically from 1-8. This labeling allows what is called chess notation. It gives a number to each square, and we can easily write out what position a certain piece is taking at a time.

How is the Game of Chess Played?

To know how to play Chess for beginners, you must first be familiar with all of the chess pieces, strength, and movements. Understanding this will help you make the right decisions while playing the game.

Know Your Chessmen

There are 32 chess pieces used in a chess game, 16 pieces on both sides. Each player gets eight pawns, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, one Queen, and one King at the game’s start. Each of these pieces has its importance and function in the whole game at large. The chess pieces move differently in the game. 

  • The Pawn is regarded as the piece of least value in the game of Chess. It is often given the point value of 1. While most people consider them sacrificial pieces, pawns also have special abilities to make them as valuable as any other chess piece, especially when promoted. 
  • The bishop is regarded as the third most powerful piece on the chessboard. The bishop is often assigned 3 points as the knights to indicate its value and importance by value notation.
    The chess piece represents historical churches that are always part of the Royal courts. It explains why the bishop is the closest to the King and Queen, protecting them from both sides.
  • The Knight has as much value as the bishop with the same value point notation of 3, indicating its order of importance. The Knight is the only chess piece that can routinely move over other chess pieces.
    It is shaped like a horse, which represents the animals, knights rode to battle. According to history, it is significantly placed beside the Rook on the board to symbolize the tower’s protection since knights used to be respected and protected upper-class warriors.
  • The Rook is the castle-shaped chessman. They are located at the last squares on both sides of the board. It is a very important chess piece, often regarded as the second most valuable piece with a value point notation of 5.
    The Rook is regarded as one of the most valuable pieces, alongside the Queen because it can checkmate an enemy king with its King. The Rook can also reach all squares of all colors, unlike the bishop.
  • The Queen is the most powerful chess piece after the King, with a value point notation of 9. A queen can legally checkmate a King.
    The Queen’s moves are almost limitless in a game, and some believe that losing your Queen early in a game puts you at a great disadvantage.
  • The King is invaluable. It is the most important chess piece though not so powerful. All other chess pieces on the board are to ultimately protect the King. The King being under attack (check) means losing the game when the King does not have any other valid move to be away from danger.
    Customarily the King is not captured to be taken off the chessboard. Once the King is in checkmate, the game is declared over.

How do the Pieces Move in Chess?

  1. Pawn


A pawn can move in two directions; forward or diagonally. A pawn can move two squares forward so long as it is its first move. After the first move, it can only move a square at a time.

Pawn moves diagonally to capture chess pieces of the opponent. It is the only reason a pawn is allowed to move diagonally.

Special moves of the Pawn

  • Promotion

special moves of the pawn

This is one of the secret powers of the Pawn. It means that a pawn can keep moving forward until it reaches the board’s end on the other side. 

Once the Pawn attains this position, it can be replaced by any other chess piece. Most commonly, the Pawn is being replaced by the Queen.

It is a common misconception that you can only use a lost piece to replace a promoted pawn. It is untrue as any chess piece of your choice can replace the Pawn.

  • En Passant

en passant

The En Passant is a special move to capture by the Pawn. It is not one of the famous rules of the chess game, especially with amateurs. This rule allows a pawn to capture another pawn without necessarily taking its spot on the chessboard.

This move happens when a pawn moves two squares to a position beside an enemy pawn to avoid being captured if it had moved just one square. The rule allows the enemy pawn to capture the Pawn by moving diagonally across it, just like it would have if the Pawn were adjacent to it. 

The capturing must, however, be done immediately after the Pawn’s move, else the enemy pawn loses the right to capture the Pawn.

    2. Bishop


The bishop moves diagonally as far as possible, provided there are no other chess pieces in its way as no chess piece can move over another except the Knight. Bishops cannot cross to a square of a different colour; they maintain their starting square color.

The bishop takes the place of an enemy piece in its path to capture it. No chess piece can capture any of its chessmen. 

  1. Knight


A knight is the only chess piece that can naturally move over another chess piece. For easy representation, the Knight moves in an L direction; it moves two squares forward and bends one extra square to form an angle of ninety degrees as in the L shape.

The first two squares in which the Knight moves can either be in a vertical or horizontal direction.

  1. Rook


The Rook moves in a straight line, vertically or horizontally. The Rook can stop on any square irrespective of the color matching its starting square or not.

For a rook to capture an opponent’s piece, it has to take the enemy piece’s position in its path.

The special move of the Rook

  • Castling


It is a special move of the Rook or castle that allows it to move over another chess piece, the King. Here the Rook moves two squares towards the King, either to the right or the left (depending on its position), and the King takes the next square crossing over the Rook.

This move is possible under two main conditions:

  • It has to be the first move of both the Rook and the King
  • There must be no other chess piece between the King and the Rook.

Castling moves the King to a more secure position, away from the middle, where it is more prone to attack. It also draws the Rook into the game where the action occurs. 

      5. Queen


The Queen is the most versatile chessman. She can move in all directions, vertically, horizontally, and diagonally as far as there are no chess pieces in her way. However, the Queen cannot move over another chess piece but can take an enemy piece to capture it.

  1. King


The King can only move one square in all directions. The limitation in its movement makes it not so powerful, despite being the most important chess piece on the board. The King can castle with the Rook, and this is the only time in a game the King is allowed to move multiple squares in one move.

What are the basic rules of chess?

Here are some basic rules guiding chess you need to know to become a chess master:

  1. Setting up the Game

chess board in the house

In setting up a chess game, you should place your board such that you will have a white or lightly-colored square at the bottom right side. Each player has to set all their pieces on the board before the start of the game. If the pieces are rightly set, similar pieces will be directly opposite each other on the board.

The eight pawns are placed on the second row on either side of the board. The remaining chess pieces are arranged in the first row. Starting at the far ends, you place your rooks first at both sides of the boards, followed by the knights, then the bishops. You will be left with two empty squares on the first row.

These two empty squares are for the Queen and the King. The Queen should be placed on the square that matches her color; this means a white queen will be on a white tile while a black queen will be placed on a black tile. The last square will be for the King.

  1. Making the First Move

chess and nature

By standard, the white player makes the first move in the game. It is presumed to be of some advantage as it allows the white player to attack first.

Depending on the players, the white side could be determined randomly, but a fair coin is mostly tossed to decide who takes the white side and who gets to play on the black side.

  1. Winning a Chess game

small chess board

In learning how to play Chess and win, you must learn how to check to mate the enemy king while keeping your King safe. 

According to the rule of the game, you cannot leave a king in check. It means that once the King is in check, the next move is to eliminate the threat or bring the King to safety. Once there are no moves to make this happen, the checkmated King loses the game.

When the King is not in check, but there are no legal moves available for a player in the game, a stalemate is declared, which translates to a draw.


There are other conditions for a draw in the game. They include:

  • When the same move occurs three times with a player, a draw can be called.
  • A fifty-move rule says when fifty moves have been made in total by both players, and no pawn was moved or any capture made, the game will be declared a draw.
  • A draw can also be declared when both players do not have enough pieces on the board to checkmate the enemy king.

Tips for Becoming a Great Chess Player – Play to Win

If you want to learn how to play Chess and win, you should pay attention to the following tips in becoming a professional chess player.

Reading chess instruction or learning chess strategy is never enough for you to know how to learn to play Chess well. You have to keep practicing by playing serious games for you to know how to play Chess online or offline.

Being smart with your game is as important as knowing the rules of the game. You should know when to call in a draw, especially if the game isn’t going in your favor. Learning a few openings and finishing moves can help you improve your winning frequency.

You should learn some chess tactics that help you improve your game to a professional level. Chess tutorials have also been proven to be helpful in this journey of becoming a great chess player.

Below are a few tactics you can learn to improve your winning chances while playing.

  1. Take control of the board early. The center is where the action is and whoever dominates the center has a higher chance of winning. Dominating the chessboard limits the options of your opponent, thus giving you greater chances of attack.

take control of the board early

  1. The attack is the best form of defense, even in Chess. Take the attack and do not be forced into defending throughout the game. It wouldn’t be long before your opponent breaks your defense and gets to your King.
  2. Memorizing chess games can help you improve your skills a great deal. You do not necessarily have to mirror the moves but memorizing improves your memory retention and visualization skills. To memorize games, you have to understand chess notations.
  3. There are times when you may need to trade pieces. You should not be scared of sacrificing a piece if you have a plan. Every chess player must always have a plan. Knowing the worth of each chess piece will help you make wise decisions on what piece to sacrifice if the need arises.
  1. You must always be alert, thinking two steps ahead of your opponent. Watch your opponent’s move and have the end game in mind. 
  2. Keep your King safe at all times. The game ends when your King is in checkmate, no matter how much of a brilliant plan you have to checkmate your opponent’s King.
  3. Have a good pawn formation. As much as Pawn may be of lesser worth than other pieces, they can earn or cost you a game.

good pawn formation

Having a good pawn structure can help your pawns capture pieces, which gives room for your Rook or Queen to swing into action.


Chess is an exciting game that will improve your reasoning capacity as a player. While you try to master how to play chess better as a player, you might need to pay more attention to chess instructions. 

Moreover, learning how to play chess basics will help you improve several skills applicable in your day-to-day activities as it’s a game that promotes healthy competition.

In learning how to play Chess for beginners, it is important to learn the right tricks and chess strategy as this will determine how great you will get as a player.

The most important feature of every game is to relax and have fun. Do not forget this as you learn how to play Chess. Enjoy yourself even as you win your games.

Try to play a Chess online game in our library.

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