Nǐ hǎo! That means hello in Chinese. But we’re not talking Chinese! We’re going to talk about chess. Chess is a popular game that needs a plan and strategies. I'm going to help you understand the concept of chess and teach you some tricks.
Chess is based on wars and fights. The initial idea of the modern chess game came from the ancient Indian Royal board game called Chaturanga; the word translates into the 4 divisions of India’s royal military army in the olden days, the Infantry, the Cavalry, the Elephants and the Chariotry. The game of chess soon spread to Persia. When the Persians got conquered by Arabs, the Arabs took chess to Southern Europe and eventually, it spread across the world.
Now that we’ve learned what chess is let's talk about how to play. Here on the right, you can see a picture of a chessboard. Use this to learn the setup. Note that the way the kings and queens are set, which is essential. You cannot mix them up. Once you have done that, let’s learn how to play. Those little guys in the front line are called pawns. They can only move forward and attack diagonally. If there is the opponent's piece in front of them, they cannot attack it. If you have lost your queen, try to get one of your pawns to your opponent's side of the board so he can exchange himself for the queen. Now, do you see that thing at the back, at the very edge? That’s a rook. He can move straight and sideways. One could attack while the other protects the king. In India, they are called elephants.
Next, we are looking at the horses. As much as they are horses, they are called knights. They move in L shapes, 3 squares for the long side and 2 squares for the short one. Unlike the other players, the knight can jump over players. However, it cannot land on a player. Then, we have that guy with a kind of point on his head. The one next to the knight. They are called bishops. They move in diagonal lines and are very cool looking to me. After them, we have the most powerful piece on the chessboard. The Queen. She can move in diagonal lines, straight lines and horizontal lines. The only thing she can’t do is the knight's powers. Those are for him and him only. Finally, we have the reason all these pieces are risking their lives—the king. If your opponent takes him, it’s game over, and you lose. He can only move 1 step forward, to the side or diagonally. This is why he should have protection at all times. Now that we’ve covered all the players let’s talk about skill.
If you want to play chess, you have to have skill and strategy. It’s about brains, not like snakes and ladders. There are two ways to play. Defence & attack. However, these are plans you can use without your opponent knowing. Here’s strategy 1. You have to be white so you can start first. First, move the pawn in front of the king, 2 steps forward. Then, hopefully, the opponent will move his pawn, on the opposite side of yours, 2 steps forward too. (On a pawn’s first turn, they can go 1 step forward or 2 steps forward.) On your next turn, move your queen diagonally as much as you can. Then, move her in front of the king. Yes! Sadly, this is only a check* since the opponent can sacrifice either the bishop or the Queen.
Strategy 2. This one’s called, Fool’s Mate. It is a two-move checkmate**, but it only works if everything goes to plan. It would be best if you first moved the pawn in front of your king once. Your opponent should do the same thing to the pawn in front of the bishop. Then move your queen diagonally all the way to the square 2 steps away from the pawn in front of the rook. Your opponent should move the pawn in front of the knight 2 steps. Now your opponent is CHECKMATE. However, this would only work on a first-timer, who would be you. But, knowing these techniques will also teach you what to look out for. Strategy 3 is for defence. If you are deciding to play defensive, here are my words of wisdom. Your rooks and bishops are probably going to be the most useful, so use them well. Your queen, however, is just as strong but is a target so use her at the end. Then there are your pawns. They honestly can’t do much, so unless you're unblocking a way for a piece on your team, don’t use them too much. The reason is that at the end, when there aren’t many pieces, you can try to get them to the end so that you can exchange them for one of your pieces that your opponent has taken. That move is called Promotion.
I hope you have learned more about chess. It is an entertaining game when you learn the basics. It tests your brainpower and your logic. Remember that if you have lost, it should be that you lost trying your best. If you didn’t put in the effort, it’s your own fault that you lost. So start playing now, with the board or online. Enjoy!
* Check - When you've almost got the opponent’s king, but he has a way to save himself.
** Checkmate - When you’ve got the opponent’s king, and there is no way to save himself.
NB: Chess is an exciting game with many rules and strategies. I wrote this blog based on what I found from my research. I encourage you to learn furthermore about chess by reading and researching.