A game full of suspense, strategy and intrigue
Among the many board games in China, Western chess is one that doesn’t enjoy nearly as much popularity as xiangqi or Go. However, more and more people are now realizing its value in children’s education. The game helps develop intellectual abilities such as observation, concentration, logical thinking and creativity. Through playing, children learn to face challenges calmly, embrace victory rationally, and overcome defeat courageously.
HOW TO PLAY
Chess is played by two players on a square board divided into 64 spaces of alternating black and white colors. Each side has 16 pieces: one king, one queen, two rooks, two knights, two bishops and eight pawns. Pieces are arranged in two rows, with pawns in front and the remaining pieces at the back in the following order: king and queen (always on her own color) in the center, with bishops flanking the royal couple, followed by knights and finally rooks in the corners. The player who controls the white side starts the game. Players alternate moving only one piece at a time, with the exception of castling (see “Special Moves”).
In general, when an enemy piece is in a square where your piece can legally move, your piece can capture the enemy piece and take its position. The enemy piece is thus removed from the board and cannot return unless promoted by a pawn (see “Special Moves”).
When a king is under threat of capture, it is in check. Should a king be put in check, the player is obligated to announce “check” to his or her opponent. Once the king is in check and cannot move to a square where it is not threatened, checkmate is accomplished and the game is over. A stalemate occurs if one side has no legal moves but the king remains unchecked, or if neither side is able to accomplish a checkmate.
King: The king can move in any direction but only one square at a time. In “castling,” however, the king can move two squares (see “Special Moves”).
Queen: The queen, often regarded as the most powerful piece in chess, can travel any number of squares and in any direction – vertically, horizontally or diagonally.
Bishop: Bishops can move in either diagonal direction for any number of squares. A bishop that starts in a white square will always end up in a white square; likewise for bishops who start off in black squares.
Knight: Knights are the only pieces that can routinely jump over other pieces, moving in an “L” formation in any direction that is either two vertical and one horizontal space away, or one vertical and two horizontal spaces away.
Rook: Rooks can move straight along a row, either vertically or horizontally, in any direction and for any number of spaces.
Pawn: Pawns advance one space at a time and only move forward in the vertical direction. Exceptions to this rule are on a pawn’s first move, in which case it can move either one or two squares forward. Once a pawn is out of its starting position, it can only move one space at a time. Pawns can only capture an opponent’s piece located in a space directly diagonal to them. Note: Although pawns move diagonally to capture an enemy piece, it cannot move diagonally if the square is vacant, and in no circumstance can a pawn move backward or horizontally.
Pawns are the only pieces allowed to executve an “en passant” move, or be “promoted” (see “Special Moves”).
If a diligent pawn reaches the eighth row (the first row on the opponent’s side), it can then be promoted to a queen, bishop, knight or rook, with the new piece replacing the pawn on the same square. Promotions can lead to a player having more than one queen or two bishops, rooks or knights on the board.
In this move, the king moves two squares toward one of his rooks and the rook is moved to the square adjacent to the king. Castling is the only situation in which a king can move two squares at a time or when two pieces can be moved in one turn. In order to perform a castling maneuver, the following conditions must be met: 1) the king and the rook must both still be in their starting positions without having moved previously; 2) the king must not be in check; 3) there must be no pieces between the king and the rook; and 4) the king must not pass through squares that are threatened by enemy pieces.
When performing this move, it’s proper etiquette to first move the king, then the rook.
If a pawn moves two squares forward from its initial position and ends up next to an enemy pawn in the same horizontal row, it can be captured by the opponent’s pawn, which moves directly to the square behind the captured pawn as if it had only moved one square forward in its initial move (see “Origin of En Passant” for an explanation). If a player does not “en passant” immediately when he or she has an opportunity to do so, the option is then forfeited on moves that follow.
ORIGIN OF EN PASSANT
French for “in passing,” the “en passant” move originated in Europe in the late 15th century when, in order to speed up the game’s pace, it was decided that pawns could have the option of moving either one or two spaces forward on their first move. It was also agreed, however, that this would not mean a player could exercise this option in order to evade being captured (as might have been the case if a pawn only moved one space forward according to the original rules). Thus, en passant was established as a way to ensure players did not abuse the additional square available to a pawn on its first move.