Chess moves, castling, check, stalemate, and checkmate: the basic rules of chess for beginners and advanced players.

The King may not move to a square:

  • that is occupied by one of his own pieces,
  • where it is checked by an enemy piece
  • adjacent to the enemy King

Straight or diagonally in any direction.

Each Bishop can only move on the same colour squares, as it started the game.

The Knight can jump to any square in L shape. This is the only piece that can jump over a piece in its way.

After its first move the Pawn may only advance one square at a time. The Pawn captures by moving diagonally one square forward in each direction. The Pawn cannot move or capture backwards!


If a White Pawn reaches the 8th (or 1st with Black) rank of the board, it must be exchanged. It can be promoted to a Queen, Rook, Bishop or Knight of its own colour. But never to a King!


The possibility of en passant Pawn capture arises when the opponent’s Pawn has just moved from its starting position two squares ahead and our Pawn is next to it. This kind of capture is only possible at this time and cannot be done later.

Castling in both directions:
The King moves two squares in the direction of the Rook, the Rook jumps over the King and lands on the square next to it.

You cannot castle:

  • if the King is in check
  • if there is a piece between the Rook and the King
  • if the King is in check after castling
  • if the square through which the King passes is under attack
  • if the King or the Rook has already been moved in the game

A King is in check, when it is attacked by the opponent’s piece. 

The King can never be captured.

    A King must get out of the check immediately:.
  • by moving the King
  • by capturing the piece that gave the check
  • or by blocking the check with one of the pieces of his team. This is impossible if the check was given by the Knight.

If the King cannot escape from the check, the position is checkmate and the game is over. The player who got checkmated gets zero point and the player giving mate gets one point.

There are three possible results in a chess game. If neither side wins, the game is a draw and both players get half a point. A draw is half as good as a win, but much better, than losing.

    The different forms a drawn game are the following:
  • Stalemate. When a player whose turn it is has no legal moves by any of his/her pieces, but is not in check.
  • Perpetual check & three times repetition
  • Theoretical draw (when there are not sufficient pieces on the board to checkmate)
  • Draw agreed by the players

Stalemate occurs when the player, who has to make the move, has no possible move, and his King is not in check.

In the starting position, square a1 is always Black. The queen is always on her own colour, next to the King in the middle. White starts the game, afterward the players alternately move.

1. Write the symbol of the chess pieces with CAPITAL LETTERS: K, Q, R, B, N
2. The vertical files are marked with 8 letters, from left to right: a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h
3. The ranks are marked by numbers from bottom to top: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

The bottom left-hand corner is called a1 and it's a black square.

First we write down the name of the piece that moves, that is the symbol of it, which is usually the first letter of the word. For example: Qd5 means: the Queen moves to the d file and to the 5th rank.

The sign of capture: x Example: Rxf5 means: the Rook captures an enemy piece on the f file and on the 5th rank. This order only changes in case of Pawn moves. We don't write the name of the Pawn, only where it moves to. In case if there is a promotion, first write on which square the promotion is, and the choice of the promoted piece is marked only at the end. For example: d8Q means: On the d file, the Pawn reached the 8th rank and was promoted to Queen.

  • Castle king side: 0-0
  • Castle queen side: 0-0-0
  • Check: +
  • Checkmate: #
  • Good move: !
  • Bad move: ?
  • White wins 1-0
  • Black wins: 0-1
  • Draw: 1/2-1/2

Notation of a short chess game: 1. e4 e5 2.Nf3 f6 3.Nxe5 fxe5 4.Qh5+ Ke7 5.Qxe5+ Kf7 6.Bc4+ Kg6 7.Qf5+ Kh6 8.d4+ Qg5 9.Qxg5# 1-0