Outline of chess

Outline of chess
A game of chess, in the starting position.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to chess:

Chess – two-player board game played on a chessboard, a square-checkered board with 64 squares arranged in an eight-by-eight grid. Each player begins the game with sixteen pieces: one king, one queen, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, and eight pawns. The object of the game is to checkmate the opponent's king, whereby the king is under immediate attack (in "check") and there is no way to remove or defend it from attack on the next move.


Nature of chess

Chess can be described as all of the following:

  • Game – structured playing, usually undertaken for enjoyment and sometimes used as an educational tool. Games are distinct from work, which is usually carried out for remuneration, and from art, which is more often an expression of aesthetic or ideological elements. However, the distinction is not clear-cut, and many games are also considered to be work (such as professional players of spectator sports/games) or art (such as jigsaw puzzles or games involving an artistic layout such as Mahjong, solitaire, or some video games).
    • Board game – game in which counters or pieces are placed, removed, or moved on a premarked surface or "board" according to a set of rules. Games may be based on pure strategy, chance or a mixture of the two and usually have a goal which a player aims to achieve.
    • Strategy game – game (e.g. computer, video or board game) in which the players' uncoerced, and often autonomous decision-making skills have a high significance in determining the outcome. Almost all strategy games require internal decision tree style thinking, and typically very high situation awareness.
    • Two-player game – a game played by just two players, usually against each other.
  • Sport – an organized, competitive, entertaining, and skillful activity requiring commitment, strategy, and fair play, in which a winner can be defined by objective means. It is governed by a set of rules or customs. Chess is recognized as a sport by the International Olympic Committee.[1]
    • Mind sport – a game where the outcome is determined mainly by mental skill, rather than by pure chance.

Chess equipment

Essential equipment

  • Chess board – type of checkerboard with of 64 squares (eight rows and eight columns) arranged in two alternating colors (light and dark). The colors are called "black" and "white" although the actual colors are usually dark green and buff for boards used in competition, and often natural shades of light and dark woods for home boards.
    • Rank – A horizontal row of squares on the chessboard.
    • File – A vertical column of squares on the chessboard.
A Staunton chess set
  • Chess set – all the pieces required to play a game of chess. Chess sets come in various materials and styles, and some are considered collectors' items and works of art.
    • Chess pieces – two armies of 16 chess pieces, one army white, the other black. Each player controls one of the armies for the entire game. The pieces in each army include:
      • 1 king – the most important piece, and one of the weakest (until the endgame). The object of the game is checkmate, by placing the enemy king in check in a way that it cannot escape capture in the next move. On the top of the piece is a cross.
      • 1 queen – most powerful piece in the game, with a relative value of 9 points. The top of the piece is crown-like.
      • 2 rooks – look like castle towers and have a relative value of 5 points each.
      • 2 bishops – stylized after bishop hats, and have a relative value of 3 points each.
      • 2 knights – usually look like horse heads and have a relative value of 3 points each.
      • 8 pawns – smallest pieces in the game, each topped by a ball. Pawns have a relative value of 1 point each.
    • Staunton chess set – The standard style of chess pieces.

Specialized equipment

Digital game clock
  • Game clock – a dual timer used to monitor each player's thinking time. Only the timer of the player who is to move is active. Used for speed chess, and to regulate time in tournament games.

Rules of chess

Rules of chess – rules governing the play of the game of chess.

Initial set up

  • Initial set up – The initial placement of the pieces on the chessboard before any moves are made.


  • Capture – A move of a piece to a square occupied by an opposing piece, which is removed from the board and from play.
  • Check – A situation in which the king would be subject to capture (but the king is never actually captured).

How each piece moves

  • Moving a pawn – pawns move straight forward one space at a time, but capture diagonally (within a one-square range). On its first move, a pawn may move two squares forward instead (with no capturing allowed in a two-square move). Also, pawns are subject to the en passant and promotion movement rules (see below).
    • En passant – on the very next move after a player moves a pawn two squares forward from its starting position, an opposing pawn that is guarding the skipped square may capture the pawn (taking it "as it passes"), by moving to the passed square as if the pawn had stopped there.[2]
    • Pawn promotion – When a pawn reaches its eighth rank it is exchanged for the player's choice of a queen, rook, bishop or knight (usually a queen, since it is the most powerful piece).
  • Moving a knight – knights move two squares horizontally and one square vertically, or two squares vertically and one square horizontally, jumping directly to the destination while ignoring intervening spaces.
  • Moving a bishop – bishops move any distance in a straight line in either direction along squares connected diagonally. One bishop in each army moves diagonally on white squares only, and the other bishop is restricted to moving along black squares.
  • Moving a rook – a rook may move any distance along ranks and files (forward, backward, left, or right), and can also be used for castling (see below).
    • Castling – A special move available to each player once in the game (with restrictions) where the king is moved two squares to the left or right and the rook on that side is moved to the other side of the king.
  • Moving the queen – a queen moves like both a rook and a bishop (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally), but no castling.
  • Moving the king – a king may move one square in any direction, but may not move into check. It may also make a special move called "castling" (see below).
    • Castling – A special move available to each player once in the game (with restrictions) where the king is moved two squares to the left or right and the rook on that side is moved to the other side of the king.

End of the game

  • Resigning – A player may resign and end the game, giving victory to his opponent.
  • Checkmate – The object of the game - a king is in check and has no move to get out of check, losing the game.
  • Draw – neither side wins or loses. In competition this usually counts as a half-win for each player.
    • Draw by agreement – The players may agree that the game is a draw.
    • Stalemate – if the player whose turn it is to move has no legal move and his king is not in check, the game is a draw by stalemate.
    • Fifty-move rule – If within the last fifty moves by both sides, no pawn has moved and there have been no captures, a player may claim a draw.
    • Threefold repetition – If the same position has occurred three times with the same player to move, a player may claim a draw.
      • Perpetual check – A situation in which one king cannot escape an endless series of checks but cannot be checkmated. This was formerly a rule of chess to result in a draw, and still used informally, but superseded by the threefold repetition rule and fifty-move rule.

Competition rules

  • Adjournment – play of a game ceases to be resumed later. This has become rare, since the advent of computer analysis of chess games.
  • Chess notation – a system of recording chess moves.
  • Draw by agreement – The two players agree to call the game a draw.
  • Time control – Each player must complete either a specified number of moves or all of his moves before a certain time elapses on his game clock.
  • Touch-move rule – If a player touches his own piece, he must move it if it has a legal move. If he touches an opponent's piece, he must capture it if he can legally.

Minor variants

  • Blindfold chess – One or both players play without seeing the board and pieces.
  • Chess handicap – One of the players gives a handicap to the other player, usually starting the game without a certain piece.
  • Fast chess – Chess played with a time control limiting the players to a specified time of 60 minutes or less (as low as 1 minute).

Game play

  • Blunder – a very bad move.
  • Candidate move – move that upon initial observation of the position, warrants further analysis. Spotting these moves is the key to higher-level play.
  • Compensation – having positional advantages in spite of material disadvantages.
  • Chess piece relative value – The relative value of chess pieces, as far as their power.
  • Exchange – capturing a piece in return for allowing another piece to be captured.
    • The exchange – the exchange of a bishop or knight for a rook. The rook is generally the stronger piece unless a player obtains other advantages for allowing the exchange.
  • Initiative – situational advantage in which a player can make threats that cannot be ignored, forcing the opponent to use his turns to respond to threats rather than make his own.[3]
  • Premove – Used in fast online games, it refers to a player making his next move while his opponent is thinking about his move. After the opponent's move, the premove will be made, if legal, taking only 0.1 seconds on the game clock.
  • Priyome – a typical maneuver or technique in chess.
  • Ply – half-turn, that is, one player's portion of a turn.
  • Tempo – Basically having a move to make, but a player may want to lose a tempo.
  • Time trouble – having little thinking time in a timed game, thereby increasing the likelihood of making weak or losing moves or overlooking strong or winning moves.
  • Transposition – sequence of moves resulting in a position which may also be reached by another common sequence of moves. Transpositions are particularly common in openings, where a given position may be reached by different sequences of moves. Players sometimes use transpositions deliberately in order to avoid variations they dislike, lure opponents into unfamiliar or uncomfortable territory or simply to worry opponents.[4][5]
  • Zugzwang – a situation in which a player would prefer to pass and make no move, because he has no move that does not worsen his position.

Pawn structure

Pawn structure – Describes features of the positions of the pawns

  • Backward pawn – A pawn that is not supported by other pawns and cannot advance.
  • Connected pawns – Pawns of the same color on adjacent files so that they can protect each other.
  • Doubled pawns – Pawns of the same color on the same file.
  • Half-open file – A file that has pawns of one color only.
  • Isolated pawn – A pawn with no pawns of the same color on adjacent files.
  • Maróczy Bind – A formation with white pawns on c4 and e4, after the exchange of White's d-pawn for Black's c-pawn.
  • Open file – A file with void of pawns.
  • Passed pawn – A pawn that can advance to its eighth rank without being blocked by an opposing pawn and without the possibility of being captured by a pawn on an adjacent file.

Chess tactics

Chess tactics – a chess tactic is a sequence of moves which limits the opponent's options and may result in tangible gain. Tactics are usually contrasted with strategy, in which advantages take longer to be realized, and the opponent is less constrained in responding.

  • Anti-computer tactics - tactics used by humans in games against computers that the program cannot handle very well
  • Combination – A series of moves, often with an exchange or sacrifice, to achieve some advantage.
  • Flight square – A square that the king can retreat to, if attacked.

Fundamental tactics

Fundamental tactics include:[6]

  • Battery – two or more pieces that can move and attack along a shared path, situated on the same rank, file, or diagonal. E.g., the queen and a bishop, or the queen and a rook, or both rooks, or the queen and both rooks.
  • Deflection
  • Discovered attack – moving a piece uncovers an attack by another piece along a straight line
  • Fork – an attack on two or more pieces by one piece
  • Interference
  • Overloading – giving a defensive piece an additional defensive assignment which it cannot complete without abandoning its original defensive assignment.
  • Pin – a piece is under attack and either cannot legally move because it would put its king in check or should not move because it will allow an attack on a more valuable piece.
  • Skewer – if a piece under attack moves it will allow an attack on another piece
  • Undermining – capturing a defensive piece, leaving one of the opponent's pieces undefended or underdefended. Also known as "removal of the guard".

Offensive tactics

  • Battery – two or more pieces that can move and attack along a shared path, situated on the same rank, file, or diagonal. E.g., the queen and a bishop, or the queen and a rook, or both rooks, or the queen and both rooks.
    • Alekhine's gun – formation named after the former World Chess Champion, Alexander Alekhine, which consists of placing the two rooks stacked one behind another and the queen at the rear.
  • Cross-check – tactic in which a check played in response to a check, especially when the original check is blocked by a piece that itself either delivers check or reveals a discovered check from another piece.
  • Decoy – ensnaring a piece, usually the king or queen, by forcing it to move to a poisoned square with a sacrifice on that square.
  • Deflection – forces an opposing piece to leave the square, rank or file it occupies, thus exposing the king or a valuable piece.[7]
  • Discovered attack – attack revealed when one piece moves out of the way of another.[8]
    • Discovered check – a discovered attack that is also a check
  • Domination – occurs when a piece has a relatively wide choice of destination squares, but nevertheless cannot avoid being captured.
  • Double attack –
    • Double check – a check delivered by two pieces at the same time.[9][10] In chess notation, it is often symbolized by "++".
  • Fork – When a piece attacks two or more enemy pieces at the same time
  • Interference – interrupting the line between an attacked piece and its defender by sacrificially interposing a piece. Opportunities for interference are rare because the defended object must be more valuable than the sacrificed piece, and the interposition must itself represent a threat.
  • King walk
  • Outpost
  • Overloading – giving a defensive piece an additional defensive assignment which it cannot complete without abandoning its original defensive assignment.
  • Pin – a piece is under attack and either cannot legally move because it would put its king in check or should not move because it will allow an attack on a more valuable piece.
  • Sacrifice
  • Swindle – a ruse by which a player in a losing position tricks his opponent, and thereby achieves a win or draw instead of the expected loss.[11][12][13][14][15] It may also refer more generally to obtaining a win or draw from a clearly losing position.[16]
  • Triangulation – A technique of making three moves to wind up in the same position while the opponent has to make two moves to wind up in the same position. The reason is to lose a tempo and put the opponent in zugzwang.
  • Undermining – capturing a defensive piece, leaving one of the opponent's pieces undefended or underdefended. Also known as "removal of the guard".
  • Windmill
  • X-ray attack
  • Zwischenzug ("Intermediate move") – To make an intermediate move before the expected move to gain an advantage.
Checkmate patterns

Checkmate pattern

  • Back-rank checkmate – A checkmate accomplished by a rook or queen on the opponent's first rank, because the king is blocked in by its own pieces.
  • Bishop and knight checkmate – A fundamental checkmate with a minimum amount of material.
  • Boden's Mate – A checkmate pattern characterized by a king being mated by two bishops on criss-crossing diagonals, with possible flight squares blocked by friendly pieces.
  • Fool's mate – The shortest possible checkmate, on Black's second move. It is rare in practice.
  • Scholar's mate – A checkmate in as few as four moves by a player accomplished by a queen supported by a bishop (usually) in an attack on the f7 or f2 square. It is fairly common at the novice level.
  • Smothered mate – A checkmate accomplished by only a knight because the king's own pieces occupy squares to which it would be able to escape.

Defensive tactics

  • Artificial castling – Taking several moves to get the king to the position it would be in if castling could have been done.
  • Blockade – To block a passed pawn with a piece.
  • Luft – German for "air", meaning squares available for the king to escape an attack, typically through a fortress.
Possible responses to an attack
  • Capture the attacking piece
  • Move the attacked piece
  • Interpose another piece in between the two
  • Guard the attacked piece and permit an exchange
  • Pin the attacking piece so the capture becomes illegal or unprofitable
  • Use a zwischenzug
  • Create a counter-threat

Chess strategy

Chess strategy

  • Corresponding squares – Usually used as a tool in king and pawn endgames, a pair of corresponding squares are such that if one king is on one of them, the opposing king needs to be on the other.
  • Fianchetto – Moving the pawn in front of the knight and placing the bishop on that square.
  • Permanent brain – Thinking when it is the opponent's turn to move.
  • Prophylaxis – A move that prevents some tactical moves by the opponent.
  • First-move advantage in chess – The theory that White's having the first move gives him an advantage.

Schools of chess

School of chess

  • Modenese Masters – A school of chess thought based on teachings of 18th century Italian masters, it emphasized an attack on the opposing king.
  • Hypermodernism – A school of thought based on ideas of some early 20th century masters. Rather than occupying the center of the board with pawns in the opening, control the center by attacking it with knights and bishops from the side.

Game phases

  1. Chess opening – The first phase of the game, where pieces are developed before the main battle begins.
  2. Chess middlegame – The second phase of the game, usually where the main battle is. Many games end in the middlegame.
  3. Chess endgame – The third and final phase of the game, where there are only a few pieces left.

Chess openings

Chess opening

e4 Openings
  • King's Pawn Game – Games that start with White moving 1.e4.
    • Open Game – Games that start with 1.e4 followed by 1...e5 by Black.
    • Semi-Open Game – Games that start with 1.e4 followed by a move other than 1...e5 by Black.
King's Knight Openings

King's Knight Opening

Sicilian Defense

Sicilian Defence

Other e4 opening variations
d4 Openings
Queen's Gambit Openings
Indian Defense

Indian Defence

Other d4 opening variations
Flank openings
Irregular Openings
Openings including a trap

Endgame topics

Chess endgame – the phase of the game after the middlegame when there are few pieces left on the board

  • Bare king – situation in which one player has only the king left on the board.
  • Checkmate patterns – Patterns of checkmate that occur reasonably often.
  • Chess endgame literature – Literature on chess endgames.
  • Endgame study – A composed position with a goal of either winning or drawing
  • Endgame tablebase – A computer database of endgame positions giving optimal moves for both sides and the result of optimal moves (a win for one player or a draw).
  • Fortress – A position in which a player with weaker material is able to keep the stronger side at bay and draw the game instead of lose it.
  • King and pawn versus king endgame – A fundamental endgame with a king and pawn versus a king.
    • Key square – A square that a player needs to occupy (usually by the king in a king and pawn endgame) to achieve some goal.
  • Lucena position – A fundamental position with a king, rook, and pawn versus a king and rook, where the stronger side is able to force a win.
  • Opposite-colored bishops endgame – Endgames in which each side has one bishop and the bishops are on opposite colors of the board.
  • Opposition – When two kings face each other with one square in between (with generalizations).
  • Pawnless chess endgame – Endgames without pawns.
  • Philidor position – A fundamental position with a king and rook versus a king, rook, and pawn where the weaker side is able to force a draw.
  • Prokeš maneuver – A maneuver from an endgame study that sometimes occurs in games.
  • Queen and pawn versus queen endgame – A difficult endgame with a queen and pawn versus a queen.
  • Queen versus pawn endgame – A fundamental endgame with a queen versus an advanced pawn protected by its king.
  • Réti endgame study – An endgame study illustrate how a king can pursue two goals at the same time.
  • Rook and bishop versus rook endgame – A well-studied endgame with a rook and bishop versus a rook.
  • Rook and pawn versus rook endgame – A fundamental and well-studied endgame with a rook and pawn versus a rook.
  • Saavedra position – An endgame study in which a surprising underpromotion leads to a win.
  • Tarrasch rule – A guideline that rooks should usually be placed behind passed pawns – both its own pawns and the opponent's.
  • Two knights endgame – An endgame with two knights versus a lone king cannot force checkmate, but they may be able to force a win if the defender has a pawn.
  • Wrong bishop – A situation in some endgames where a player's bishop is on the wrong color of square to accomplish something, i.e. the result would be different if the bishop was on the other color.
  • Wrong rook pawn – And endgame situation very closely related to the wrong bishop, where having the other rook pawn would have a different result.

Venues (who and where to play)

Casual play

Chess clubs

Online chess

Correspondence chess

Competitive chess

  • Chess around the world
  • Chess rating system – A dynamic rating system based on a player's performance, with a higher number indicating a better player.
  • Chess tournament – A chess competition among several to many players.
    • Swiss-system tournament – A tournament format designed to handle a relatively large number of players playing a small number of rounds in a relatively short time.
    • Round-robin tournament – A tournament format for a small to moderate number of players in which each player plays each other table. It may be lengthy, depending on the number of rounds played.
    • Knockout tournament – A tournament format of several stages in which players are paired off and half are eliminated in each stage.
    • Internet Computer Chess Tournament – A tournament for chess engines held over the Internet.
  • FIDE World Rankings – A list of the highest-rated players in the world.
  • Simultaneous exhibition – A demonstration in which one player plays against a large number of opponents simultaneously.


Chess title

Computer chess

History of chess

Famous games

History of chess, by period

Years in chess

Chess players

World Championships

Science of chess

Psychology and chess

Chess programming

Chess theory

Chess theory

Chess in culture

Chess media

Chess books


Chess variants

Chess variant – Games similar to chess but with different rules or pieces.

Different starting position

Different forces

Different board

Unusual rules

Incomplete information and elements of chance

Multimove variants

Multiplayer variants

Unusual pieces

Variants with bishop+knight and rook+knight compounds

Games inspired by chess

Historical variants

Xiangqi and variants

Shogi and variants

Other national variants

Chess combined with other sports

Chess variants software

See also


  1. ^ Recognized Sports of the International Olympic Committee International Olympic Committee official website. Retrieved 2 May 2008.
  2. ^ FIDE rules (En Passant is rule 3.7, part d)
  3. ^ http://chess.about.com/od/reference/g/bldefini.htm
  4. ^ Mark Weeks. "Chess Opening Tutorial : Introduction to 1.d4". about.com. http://chess.about.com/od/improveyouropenings/ss/aa03c15_9.htm. 
  5. ^ Soltis, A. (2007). Transpo Tricks in Chess. Batsford. ISBN 0713490519.  See review at "Transpo Tricks in Chess - review". chessville.com. http://www.chessville.com/reviews/TranspoTricks.htm. 
  6. ^ Edward R. Brace, Illustrated Dictionary of Chess (Fodor's Travel Publications, 1978) ISBN 978-0-679-50814-4
  7. ^ Hooper, David; Whyld, Kenneth (1992), The Oxford Companion to Chess (second ed.), Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-866164-9 
  8. ^ Discovered Attack Article at Chesscorner.com
  9. ^ Hooper, David (1992), The Oxford Companion to Chess (second ed.), Oxford University Press, p. 113, ISBN 0-19-866164-9 
  10. ^ Golombek, Harry (1977), Golombek's Encyclopedia of Chess, Crown Publishing, p. 88, ISBN 0-517-53146-1 
  11. ^ Edward R. Brace, An Illustrated Dictionary of Chess, McKay, 1977, p. 276. ISBN 0-679-50814-7.
  12. ^ Byrne J. Horton, Dictionary of Modern Chess, Philosophical Library, 1959, p. 199.
  13. ^ I. A. Horowitz and Fred Reinfeld, Chess Traps, Pitfalls and Swindles, Simon and Schuster, 1954, p. 12. ISBN 0-671-21041-6.
  14. ^ Walter Korn, The Brilliant Touch in Chess, Dover Publications, 1966, p. 4. SBN 486-21615-2.
  15. ^ Graham Burgess, The Mammoth Book of Chess, Carroll & Graf, 1997, p. 489. ISBN 0-7867-0431-4.
  16. ^ See, e.g., Ali Mortazavi, The Fine Art of Swindling, Cadogan Books, 1996, p. 44. ISBN 1-85744-105-2 (referring to Em. Lasker-Ed. Lasker, New York 1924, as a "celebrated swindle").

External links

International organizations
Online play

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