While it does feature a set of rules that can come off as confusing at times, one only needs to learn a few basic guidelines to start a new match. This quick start guide covers a method for explaining the introductory methods of the game from an educator’s standpoint, providing tips and guidelines for clarifying the concepts of the game to students in order to encourage a fast adoption of the rules.
Establishing an Analogy of War
The easiest way to introduce chess to new players is to explain the different pieces that make up the game first, as this allows for a solid foundation upon which other knowledge may be built. A standard game consists of a square board with 64 squares of alternating light and dark colors, as well as two sets of 16 pieces. Traditionally, the pieces are divided into colors, commonly referred to as White and Black. At this point, it is best to begin using an analogy of soldiers at war to help form an understanding of the overall setup of the game.
Introduce each set of pieces as opposing armies engaging in a battle, explaining that the front line of troops consists of eight soldiers known as pawns. These pieces serve as the bulk of the army, as the foot soldiers in an ancient battle. Pawns may move forward a single space, or diagonally a single space to capture an enemy piece. They may also move forward two spaces on their first turn. Include mention of the versatility of pawns and their ability to fill many roles, such as athletes who develop multiple skills through varied practices like cross-training.
Moving Back in Ranks
The rear line of pieces behind the pawns contains the most valuable and versatile pieces. Explain that these pieces represent the royalty of the kingdom controlling the army as well as its most powerful soldiers. Starting at the outside edges are the rooks, which are similar to the castles of the kingdom and may move any number of squares in any direction other than diagonally. Next are the knights, which can move in an “L” shape two squares out and one square to the side.
Closer still are the bishops, which can be compared to the spiritual advisors and leaders of the army. Bishops may move any number of spaces diagonally, but never in a straight line. Finally, as the center, are the king and the queen, which form the heart of each army. The queen is an incredibly powerful piece, able to move any number of squares in a continuous line, including diagonally.
The King and the Goal
As with any army, having a king take part in battle is both a great asset and a great liability. Just as in a real battle, each player’s goal in chess is to protect their own king while eliminating their opponent’s king. This is why the king begins surrounded by powerful pieces and itself can move in any direction. However, the king may only move a single square at a time, which can be compared to the slow-moving pace of an aging king. If one player removes another’s king from play, that player may call “checkmate” and end the game. When the king is endangered, but still one move away from death, the player calls out “check” as a warning.
The entirety of the game plays out as a battle between the two armies, with each side devising various tactics to advance across the battlefield in order to defeat the enemy king. Though there are more advanced moves dictating the legality of certain moves, these are best left to future sessions.