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Chess is arguably the most famous board game in the world, and has its origins as far back as 2,000 years ago in India. The modern version of the game is said to have developed in Europe, during the 15th century, and the rules played today have largely been in place for over 500 years now.
Chess is played on an eight-by-eight checkered grid, with alternating dark and light colored squares. Boards come in a huge variety of materials and colors, with some of the most simple made of cardboard, while others are made of the finest marble. Online chess is also extremely popular, with technology allowing for computers to make intuitive moves as the game progresses.
In chess each player starts with 16 pieces on the board. What ensues is a game of strategy, where players make alternate moves and the ultimate aim is to win by trapping your opponent's king in an untenable situation.
Guide to check pieces
Check pieces are only allowed to move adhering to certain rules, as follows:
Pawns can only move sideways or forwards, unless they are capturing an opposition piece – in which case they can only do so diagonally. A pawn moves one square at a time, aside from its initial move, which is permitted to be a two-square move forward. If a pawn manages to advance to the opposite end of the board it is 'promoted' to take on the characteristics of a piece of your choosing (typically a queen).
Rooks can move vertically and horizontally, and for as many squares as they're free to do so. A rook conquers an opponent's piece by moving into its square. Its progress stops at that point.
Knights are curious movers. They can either move one square up or down and two squares to the side, or two squares up or down and one to the side. A knight can only conquer the square it lands on. Knights can jump over other pieces en route to their destination.
Bishops work like rooks, only moving diagonally at all times.
The queen is the most dangerous (and thus valuable) attacking piece at your disposal. It can move in any direction on a straight line – horizontally, vertically or diagonally. The queen conquers an opponent's piece by landing on it. The queen cannot jump pieces.
The king is what you're trying to protect. It can only move one square at a time, in any direction, other than 'castling' – which is a special move that involves the king going towards the rook and the rook moving onto its other side.
How to play chess
A game of chess always starts with the player with the light pieces moving first. Some chess games have timed moves, so that each player has a certain amount of time to make a move. A move stands once the player removes his hand from the piece, and he or she would then trigger the clock to start timing their opponent.
The game then ensues with the players taking alternative turns, until a point where one of the following things happen to bring the game to conclusion.
Checkmate is a move that leaves your opponent's king with no escape and thus the game is over.
A draw or tie can be called if both players agree to it, or if a number of criteria have been met to class the game as a tie.
A player who looks destined to lose is allowed to resign and bring the game to its end before checkmate.
A player who fails to make move before his time runs out can lose by breaching the rules.
Chess tournaments are regularly hosted all over the world, with great acclaim given to the winners of the top events and cash prizes paid out at some of the most high profile. There are also many tournaments available at online chess websites, some of which pay out real money prizes to winners.
How do I get started playing chess?
Chess can seem daunting to learn, but it doesn't take long to get a hold on the basics and start playing. Playing online chess is a great way to start these days, where you can take advantage of free games and set your opponent difficultly to beginner level while you learn the ropes. It's a good idea to reference an established online chess portal for a guide on the best chess websites to play at.