Chess 101: Basics, History, and Fun Facts About the World's Most Popular Game


Chess Basics

Chess is a strategy game, played by two players, who take turns to get better positioning on the chessboard in order to capture the other players’ king.


  •          A chess board is made of 64 squares, with 8 rows and 8 columns, called “ranks” and “files” respectively.
  •          Players may use either a white or black set of pieces.
  •          Each players starts with 16 pieces: eight pawns, two knights, two bishops, two rooks, one queen, and one king.
  •          Each piece has its own unique way of moving:

Pawns: Move forward unless they are capturing an opponent’s piece. In that case they can move diagonally.

Knights: Can move in “L” shapes, either two squares vertically and on square horizontally, or two squares horizontally and one square vertically. They can also jump over other pieces during the game.

Bishops: Move diagonally forwards or backwards across the board for any amount of spaces.

Rooks: Move forwards or backwards, horizontally or vertically, across the board for any amount of spaces.

Queen: Moves horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, in any direction, and for any amount of spaces.

King: Can move one square in any direction.

  •          Typically, the person with the white set of pieces makes the first move.
  •          Each player must move on their turn and must not put their own king in check.


Fun Chess Facts:


  •          Chess is a required school subject in Armenia.
  •          The longest official game of chess took place in 1989 that went on for 20 hours and included 269 moves.
  •          In a single game of chess, there are 400 possible moves after each move played.
  •          It is possible to checkmate your opponent in just two moves.
  •          Chess is a proven way to improve memory function.
  •          The world record for the number of moves without capture is 100, and was set in 1992.
  •          About 70% of the adult population has played chess at some point in their lives, and about 605 million adults play chess regularly!


History of Chess:


  •          The game of chess is believed to have originated in India, where it was call Chaturange prior to the 6th century AD.
  •          The game became popular in India and then spread to Persia, and the Arabs.
  •          The Arabs coined the term “Shah Mat”, which translates to “the King is dead”. This is where the word “checkmate” came from.
  •          Archeologists have discovered ivory playing pieces and chess artifacts in Uzbekistan dating back to 760 AD – chess spread quickly and far!
  •          The game of chess reached Western Europe around the year 1000.
  •          Around 1475, changes were made to the game and it evolved into its more current form. Also around this time formal rules began to appear.
  •          In 1749 the first standard chess manual was written by chess master Francois-Andre Danican Philidor.
  •          The period of time from the 18th century until the 1880’s was known as the Romantic Era of chess, and included the discovery of pawns as strategic pieces, stalemate rules, and  the convention that white pieces moved first.