The chessboard consists of 64 perfectly alternating black and white squares, whichever way it is oriented. It consisting of eight ranks (rows) and eight files (columns).
There are 32 chessmen, 16 black and 16 white:
- 8 Pawns each
- 2 Castles or Rooks each
- 2 Horses or Knights each
- 2 Bishops each
- 1 Queen each
(plus one additional queen each for ‘pawn promotion’
– see a section entitled special moves)
- 1 King each
The board must be oriented such that both players have light-colored squares at the right-hand corners of the rank closest to them.
At the start of each game, chessmen are arranged along the two ranks nearest to each player, with chessmen of opposing players facing each other.
The front rank on each side comprises eight pawns each, while the rear rank on either side is arranged as follows:
- Two Castles or Rooks at the two extremes
- Two Knights next to the two Rooks
- Followed by the two Bishops
- With King and Queen bringing up the core of the rear. The Queen occupies the matching square (black on black, white one white). The King occupies the remaining position.
The player with white pieces always
plays the first turn. This may be decided by the toss of a coin or a blind draw
Players must maneuver their pieces around the board – following the movement stipulations laid down for each type of piece – adopting various offensive and defensive strategies (game-specific) and tactics (turn-specific), in an attempt to weaken the opposition by capturing as many of their pieces as possible, while strengthen their own position by keeping as many of their own pieces in play, and holding strategically strong positions.
When one player moves any of his pieces to a position that directly threatens the opposing King, that player must issue a warning to his or her opponent, by saying “Check”
The ultimate objective for both players is to “Checkmate” the other, by using any one or more of their own pieces to trap the opposing King, such that it cannot avoid capture.
The various types of pieces, are restricted to certain types of moves:
THE PAWNS move up the ranks, one rank per turn, up the file to which it is assigned. Two exceptions: (1) They may move two ranks up a file on their opening moves. (2) They may capture any opposing piece positioned one step diagonally ahead of it, in either direction. A capture is the only common condition under which pawns can switch files. Pawns are the only pieces that can never move backwards.
THE ROOKS move vertically up and down the ranks, or horizontally left and right through the files, covering an
unlimited number of squares per turn, within the confines of the board, unless it is impeded by another piece en
route. If the impeding piece is an opposing one, the Rook may capture it.
THE KNIGHTS move two steps in a horizontal or vertical direction, then turn 90-degrees left or right to take another step (effectively, an L-shaped move) – all within a single turn. They are unique, in that they can jump over any other piece, en route to its ‘destination square’. However, they cannot move to a ‘destination square’ already occupied by another piece belonging to the same player. On the other hand, if any of the ‘destination squares’ is occupied by any opposing piece, the Knight may move to that square and capture the opposing piece.
THE BISHOPS move diagonally across the board, covering an unlimited number of squares per turn, within the confines of the board, unless impeded by another piece en route. If the impeding piece is an opposing one, the Bishop may capture it. Because of its diagonal movement Bishops that start the game on a black square are confined to black squares, and those starting out on white squares are confined to white squares, right through the duration of the game.
THE QUEEN is the most powerful piece. Her moves effectively combine those of the Rook and the Bishop. And like both, she may capture any opposing player impeding any of the many pathways open to her – in horizontal, vertical or diagonal directions.
THE KING, like the Queen, moves in horizontal, vertical and diagonal directions, but only a single step per turn. He is the most valuable, but also the most vulnerable, piece on the board.
A pawn that can make its way to the final rank of the opposing side, no matter which file it occupies, it may be promoted to any other piece of the corresponding players’ choice – Queen being the most obvious choice. This is the reason why most chess sets come with two additional Queens – one black and one white.
When a pawn’s first move – two ranks up
its file, takes it to a position adjacent to an opposing pawn, effectively
preventing the opposing pawn from capturing it in the normal fashion, then the
opposing pawn may play the ‘en passant’ move – capturing the first pawn by
‘passing’ it diagonally across its rear, to occupy the square right behind it.
The validity of this move lasts only for a single turn – i.e. it needs to be
played immediately after the first pawn’s move – thereafter the option doesn’t
The only dual move in chess, where King moves two square left or right, while the Rook jumps over the King to occupy the square next to – but on the opposite side of – the King, within the same turn. This may be done with the Rook on either side of the King. This move helps protect the King while also freeing-up the Castle for offence or counter-offence. However, a few conditions need to be met for the move to be made:
- It must be the King’s very first move.
- It must be that Rook’s very first move.
- There must be no other pieces in any of the intervening squares.
- It cannot be done if the King is on check, or has been on check at any point prior, during that game.
Now that you know how to play – just dive right in. Welcome to the world of Chess – a world that could be both immersive and fascinating for you, and even become your lifelong passion – as it has for so many millions before you.
Choose The Size of Chessmen That You Prefer
Start with the size of the chess pieces. For the sake of comparisons, measurements are standardized to the dimensions of the tallest chessmen in each set – the Kings. Generally, for significant tournaments the height of the King varies between 3.35 inches or 8.51 cm to 4.5 inches or 11.43 cm.
The standard size of King pieces used at major Fide and USCF tournaments is 3.75 inches or 9.53 cm. For minor tournaments, practice or casual play, the height of the Kings may be from 2.5 inches or 6.35 cm upwards.
To ensure sufficient stability, the diameter of the base of each piece should be between 40-50% of its height. Hence a 3.75-inch-tall or 9.53-cm-tall King, should have a base diameter of between 1.5 inches or 3.81 cm and 1.88 inches or 4.76 cm.
Major tournaments also usually feature double-weighted or even triple-weighted pieces – with added heft and stability to suit the gravity of the occasion.
However, relatively lightweight pieces are used for rapid chess (tournaments and tie-breakers in standard tournaments), in order to make them wieldier, though even these are sufficiently weighted, to maintain desired levels of stability.
Of course, chessmen are available outside of 2.5-4.5 inches or 6.36-11.43 cm size range with matching board sizes. There are travel Chess sets or novelty miniature Chess sets where the pieces can be just 1.5 inches or 3.81 cm or even smaller.
Some of these sets have magnetic pieces that stick to the specially fabricated chess boards containing iron sheets under the playing surface, to compensate for the lack of heft and stability possessed by these much smaller pieces.
At the other end of the spectrum, are much larger chess sets, often beautifully crafted, that serve as show-pieces at homes and public galleries. And then there are giant chess sets, even life-sized ones with matching vinyl or foam roll-up boards – that are playable outdoors, and come with their own novelty value.
Then Match The Size of Your Chessmen To Your Chess Board
It’s absolutely vital to get the right size of chess board, relative to the size of the chessmen. If the chessmen are too large relative to the board, the set appears cluttered and untidy.
If the chess board is too large relative to the chessmen, while the King may look at home, the substantially smaller Pawns look puny and insignificant within the squares they occupy.
The general norm is that the diameter of the base of your largest piece – i.e. the King, must be between 75-85% of the square size of your chess board. Square size refers to the individual length of each of smaller 64 squares on a chess board.
For Eg square size of our typical 21 inch large chess board is 55 mm (2.16 inch)
(Hence, if you are using a 3.75-inch-tall or 95-mm-tall King, with a base diameter of 1.7 inches or 43 mm, the length of each square on your chess board should be between 2 inches and 2.26 inches or between 50.8 mm and 57.4 mm. This ensures an ideal fit.)
Obviously personal preferences can enter the equation. Not everyone needs to follow the norm. But most experts agree that if you must deviate from the norm, go with a board that is slightly bigger relative to the pieces – not the other way around.
One more way to ascertain that the size of your board is large enough to accommodate your chessmen is to check whether four pawns touching each other in a square formation, fit into a single square on your board. If they do, your board is large enough – but also take care to ensure that there is not too much space to spare on the square after all four pawns have been accommodated in it.
Whether you’re an active player, an avid enthusiast or a serious collector, use these basic guidelines when you purchase your next Chess set and you are unlikely to go wrong – whether on a functional or an aesthetic level.
Backgammon is a game between two players on a specially constructed board. Each player controls a set of 15 identical pieces – called checkers or chips, which are differentiated from those of his or her opponent by a contrasting color.
The set of chips belonging to each player, move around the board in pre-designated, opposing directions (clock-wise vs counter clock-wise), based on the rolls of a pair of dice.
The board contains 24 narrow Isosceles triangles. The pointed tips of 12 triangles emerging from the top edge of the board, face the pointed tips of 12 triangles emerging from the bottom edge of the board – rather like the upper and lower sets of a shark’s teeth.
Each triangle is called a point. The points function as spaces on the board, along which players’ pieces move, based on the roll of the dice. Points are notionally numbered from 1 to 24 as shown in the picture below.
Physically, the board is vertically divided into two recessed, rectangular halves, by a ridge running down its center, called the bar. There is a raised frame around outer edges of both halves of the board, matching the height of the central ridge or bar.
Notionally, the board is divided into four quadrants. On one side of the bar – players decide by mutual consent whether it’s the left half or the right half – the two quadrants facing each other are the ‘home boards’ of each player. The two quadrants facing each other on the other side of the bar are their respective ‘outer boards’.
Hence in the figure shown below, quadrant 1 and 4 are the home boards, while quadrant 2 and 3 are the outer boards, for players 1 and 2 respectively.
Player 1, playing with darker colored chips, starts with:
- 5 chips on point 6 in his or her home quadrant
- 3 chips on point 8 in his or her outer quadrant
- 5 chips on point 13 in player 2’s outer quadrant
- 2 chips on point 24 in player 2’s home quadrant
Player 2 plays with light colored chips, the starting positions of which mirror those of player 1’s chips as shown in the figure below.
Each player must, through a combination of luck (roll of dice) and offensive and defensive tactics (scoring hits, setting up blocks, etc.), attempt to move all their chips, first to their own respective home quadrants, and then bear them off the board altogether, while attempting to prevent his or her opponent from achieving the same objective. The first player to bear all his or her chips off the board wins the game.
Direction of Movement
As shown below, player 1 attempts to move all his darker colored chips, distributed around the board, in a counter-clockwise direction, first to his home – the bottom, right-hand-side – quadrant, before bearing them off the board.
While player 2 moves his lighter colored chips distributed around the board, in a clockwise direction, first to his home – the top, right-hand-side –quadrant, before bearing them off the board.
Who Goes First?
Both players roll a single dice each. The one rolling a higher number starts. The two numbers thus rolled (to decide who goes first) effectively becomes the first roll of the game. The player who starts, moves basis this very roll.
Basis For Movement
Players take alternating turns to move their chips forward through the points, in the designated direction, based on the roll of the dice.
A player’s chip cannot be moved to a point that is already occupied by two or more of his or her opponent’s chips. In such cases, the player needs to find an alternative move.
Unlike many other board games, the numbers displayed by the two dice on each roll, are not taken cumulatively, but constitute separate moves.
In other words, if a player rolls a 2 and a 4, he or she may move one chip four points ahead and another chip two points ahead, provided both destination points are open (not already occupied by two or more of the opponent’s chips).
The player may of course choose to move one chip six points ahead, but it is still seen as two separate moves. The player may complete this moveprovided:
- The destination point (six points ahead) is open
- One or both of the intermediate points (two or four points ahead) are open.
Note that even if one intermediate point (say two points ahead) is not open, the player can still move six points ahead by first choosing to move four points ahead (thereby circumventing the block), and then moving ahead the remaining two steps, unimpeded – and vice versa.
However, the player may not move ahead six points even if it is open, if the both intermediate points (two and four points ahead) are not open (i.e. opponent has two or more chips on both intermediate points), since the player is blocked from making either of the two constituent moves adding up to six.
A player may deliberately set up block (multiple points in close proximity, with stacks of two or more chips) as a defensive tactic, impeding the progress of a certain number of his or her opponent’s chips.
Hits And Re-Entries
A player may deliberately attempt an offensive tactic by targeting a particular point on the board, occupied by a single chip – called a blot – belonging to his or her opponent. When the player lands on that point, he or she scores a hit against the opposing blot, sending it to the bar.
The opponent must then roll the dice to bring the piece on the bar, back into play, starting from the point, farthest from its ultimate destination (home quadrant), before he or she can proceed to move any other pieces.
If the player rolls a number on the dice that blocks the chip on the bar, from re-entry onto the board (due to the presence of a stack of two or more of the first player’s chips on the landing point) the opponent forfeits that turn and waits for the next turn to try again .
A player rolling doubles effectively plays the numbers shown on the pair of dice twice over. So, a player who rolls two sixes for instance, get four turns of six each. He or she may use any combination of chips to complete the move to his or her maximum advantage.
Only once a player gets all of his or her chips into his or her home quadrant, can he or she begin to bear their chips of the board, and stack them in a special rack often provided on the side frame of the board. This too is determined by the roll of the dice. The player who bears all his or her chips off the board first, is declared the winner.
All backgammon sets come with a doubling cube which is usually used for gambling or in tournament play, involving multiple games, where winners are decided on the basis of the greatest number of games won.
The doubling cube may be used at any time during the game. Enables players, who believe they are in a favorable position, to raise the stakes, to register between 2 and 64 game wins with just a single victory.
The doubling cube bears the numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 and 64. The player shows by how much he or she is raising the stakes, by placing the cube in a manner that displays the appropriate number face-up.
If the opponent refuses to accept the raised stakes, he or she forfeits the game. If the opponent accepts the raised stakes, he owns the cube and can re-double the stakes, should the tide subsequently turn, in his or her favor.
Gammons and Backgammons
At the end of the game, if the losing player has been unable to bear off even one of his chips, he or she is gammoned and loses two games (or twice the value of the doubling cube).
Even worse, if the loser has not been able to bear off any of his chips and still has a chip left either on the bar or in the opponent’s home quadrant, he or she is backgammoned and loses three games (or thrice the value of the doubling cube).
If identical numbers are rolled on the first turn the doubling cube is automatically turned to two. The victor in that game ends up registering at least two wins.
When a player redoubles immediately after accepting a double, while retaining the doubling cube. The opponent then has the option of accepting and continuing, or refusing and forfeiting, the game – as with a regular double.
Gammons and backgammons count as a single victory unless the doubling cube is brought into play. This encourages players to speed up a match by using the doubling cube every game.
Go Play! Royal Chess Mall
Backgammon may appear unconventional and seems complicated to beginners, but once players get used to the rules and begin to understand and deploy more advanced moves, it becomes a more and more compelling game to play. Who knows – you could just be the next one to jump aboard the Backgammon Bandwagon!