4 Easy Steps To Start Playing Chess, Scandal-Free

Magnus Carlsen puts his head in his hands.

photo: Koen van Weel/ANP/AFP (Getty Images)

Chess can be sexy. Anya Taylor-Joy on the hit Netflix show The Queen’s Gambit taught me that. Chess can also be evil and stupid. A viral (and unfounded) claim that a 19-year-old chess champion defeated the world’s best chess player, Norwegian pro Magnus Carlsen with smart tech anal beads helping him cheat, and recent controversies involving a misogynistic grandmasteroh and the chess robot that broke a kid’s bones, taught me that. Not since the era when Marilyn Monroe’s legacy was tarnished has chess seen such a wild year only for the first time.

But instead of being fanned away by all the craziness, you might have been drawn to chess’ swirling maelstrom of dark intrigue and espresso. You’re not one to shy away from strangeness, you thought it was time to jump into the game and start jotting things down on notepads like the sexy misogynists do. Yes, of couse. I can understand the appeal of a mysterious Norwegian. And I can teach you how to get started with chess, completely scandal-free.

1. Get to know the board

In a match, a chess board is laid out so that both you and your opponent have the lighter colored square in the lower right. Regardless of the actual colors of your board, the player with the light checkers plays “white” and makes the first move. The other player is “Black” and responds.

To set up your board, place eight pawns in the second rank or “rank”. Then, like a mirror, place a rook in each corner of the first rank, knights next to it, and bishops next to the knights. Your queen sits next to the bishop of her appropriate suit (a white queen sits on the white square, a black queen sits on black), and your king sits next to her.

2. Get moving – online or offline

Chess is a classic game of cat and mouse. Your ultimate goal is to checkmate your opponent’s king. But before you kill the king, you need to understand and remember that each of the six types of chess pieces has a defined range of power and moves. Familiarizing yourself with these limits will allow you to move with confidence and strategy.

Here’s what you should know about your army:

  • Farmers: can only push forward, but pawns can only capture pieces that are both diagonal and in front of them. Untouched pawns can move two squares forward, but if the moved pawn would have ended up in an enemy pawn’s capture area if it had only moved one square, it can be captured immediately alongside, or by the way. Pawns can also be “promoted” if they make it to the last square in a column or “file” and are exchanged for a rook, bishop, knight, or queen.
  • towers: can move to any open space in front, next to or behind them. They can also be used for “castling,” a one-time move only applicable to an untouched rook and king that are not obstructed by enemy pieces. The king also cannot be attacked or in check. After meeting these requirements, you can castle by coaxing your king two spaces to the left or right toward the rook you’re about to move, and then placing that rook next to the king on its opposite side. You will not move two figures at the same time outside of this turn.
  • Knight: move in an L-shape, one square up and one square above, always to a square of a different color where it started (a black knight moving from a white square moves back to black, then to white, then back to black, etc.) . Only knights can jump over other figures during movement.
  • bishops: Move diagonally to any open space that matches the color of the starting space.
  • Queen: The most impressive piece in chess can go anywhere it wants for as long as it doesn’t go through another piece.
  • King: The Shrimp King can move one space in any direction.

The best way to embed the many rules of chess in your muscle memory is to play it. lich, Chess.comand Chess24 Offer free practice games against computer or beginner friendly games based on your skills. If you’d rather practice on a physical board, or just want to have one, you don’t need anything fancy, but weighted sets and materials like vinyl or woods like boxwood and rosewood are durable, comfortable to move around in, and easy to transport. Chess games don’t have to be expensive either this $25 weighted vinyl board from Chess House helpfully labeled algebraic notation.

3. Get to know the community

Aside from the basic rules outlined here, chess is packed with passionate people, innovative gameplay, and plenty of drama worthy of a buttery bag of microwave popcorn. The very active r/chess and r/beginner chess are low-stakes opportunities to chat with enthusiasts and learn more about chess.

Your town also probably has a few chess clubs or hangouts. In New York City, where I live, newbies are welcome to buy boards or play games chess forum in Greenwich Village or sit down at a stone chess table in parks like Washington Square, Union or Bryant. Heck, you might even have your own excitement Search for Bobby Fisher Experience. Thrilling orchestral score not included.

But eventually to play in tournaments, some of which take place online or weeklyyou must purchase a US Chess Federation membership (one year for an adult over 24 and under 65 costs $45). Membership also qualifies you for an official US Chess Rating.

4. Maintain a healthy relationship with your gastrointestinal tract

Don’t stick anything chess-related up your butt. Or don’t tell a Norwegian. If you do, they will alert the media and your burgeoning chess career will be squashed like a bug.

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