Monday, 31 January 2011

How games are drawn

In a chess game,  a draw is one of the many possible outcomes of the game, the others being a win for white ( loss for black) and win for black (loss for white).  Normally in great tournaments, a draw is worth a half point to each player while a win is worth 1 point to the winner and 0 points to loser.  A draw occurs when there is a chance that none of the players can win the game.

Draws in chess can happen by various rules in chess which include stalmate (when the player to move has no legal move and is not in check),  threefold repetition (when the same position occurs three times), and fifty-move rule ( when the last fifty successive moves made by both the players contain no capture or pawn move).  A draw can also occur when neither of the players has sufficient material to checkmate the opponent. Unless the specific tournament rules forbid it, the players may together agree to a draw at any time.  Here are some of the conditions under which a draw can occur in a chess game.
  • Stalmate :  If a player who is supposed to move his pieces has no legal move but is not in check,  this condition is called as stalmate and the chess game is automatically a draw.
  • Three fold repetition :  If an identical position has occured three times with the same player's move, the player may claim a draw.  In such a situation, the draw is not automatic but the player has to claim if he wants a draw.  If the claim is not made on the move in which the repetition occurs, the player forfeits the right to make the claim. Of course, the opportunity may present itself again.
  • The fifty move rule : If in the previous fifty moves by each side, no pawn has moved or no capture has been made, a draw may be claimed by any of the player. Here the player has to claim for the draw and i is not automatic.
  • Impossibility of a check mate :  If a condition arises in which none of the players can checkmate the opponent by a series of legal moves, the game can be turned to a draw.  
Here are the links to other articles in this blog.

History of Chess
Introduction to Chess
Special Rules in Chess
Check and Check Mate
How Games are Drawn

    Sunday, 30 January 2011

    Objectives of winning - Check and Checkmate

    The purpose of playing the game of chess is to checkmate the opponent's king so that king cannot move to a safer position.  This happens when the king is put into check and cannot get out of check.  There are three ways a king can get out of check - move out of the way ( he cannot castle after giving check),  block the check with another piece, or capture the piece threatening the king.  If a king cannot escape checkmate then the game is over.  Let us see what is check and checkmate.

    Check :
    Threatening a king with capture is treated differently from an ordinary piece. The king is not only royal but the objective of the entire game. A player declares "check" when he moves in a manner which threatens an opponent's king with capture. However, the term is only used if  the king has a means of escape. The opponent  must  get the king out of check immediately. This can be done in one of three ways: 1) Move the king. 2) Capture the attacking piece. 3) Move a piece so that it blocks the attack. A king cannot castle if it is in check.


    The game is won when an opponent's king is inescapably placed in a position where it would be captured on the next turn. Actually capturing the king and removing it from the board like a common piece would have been unthinkable when chess was invented, and so this is not done. Instead the winner says the word checkmate and the game ends.

    Sometimes a king is placed in check several times and never checkmated. Other times a king is placed directly in checkmate. There is no rule saying a king must be placed in check before it is placed in checkmate and there is no limit on the number of times a king can be placed in check.

    If a player foolishly exposes his king to check, he is allowed to take the move back. Obviously there is no glory in winning by breaking rules and the rules say one cannot move in a way which exposes one's king to check. Likewise, if there is a means of escape and a player foolishly doesn't take it, the move must be replayed. On the other hand, if a player assumes the game is hopelessly lost and resigns, he or she automatically loses even if later analysis indicates that the situation was not hopeless. Resigning a game is risky but is the sign of an experienced player. Resigning is a way to save face by not pointlessly prolonging the game.

    A game can end in a draw in four different ways:
    1. Stalemate: This means there is no legal move an opponent can make when it is his or her turn to move. This often occurs when a king is trapped in a position where its only move would be to move into check
    2. The fifty-move rule: If a piece has not been captured or a pawn moved in fifty moves then a player can declare a draw on his or her turn.
    3. Both sides agree to a draw.
    4. Neither side has enough pieces left to setup a checkmate.
     Here are the links to other articles in this blog.

    History of Chess
    Introduction to Chess
    Special Rules in Chess
    Check and Check Mate
    How Games are Drawn

    Special Rules in Chess

    Here are some special moves or rules in a chess game.

    Promotion :
    Pawns have a special ability and that is if a pawn reaches the other side of the chess board, it can become any other chess piece ( called as promotion).  Normally a pawn is promoted to a queen when it reaches other side of the chess board.  Only pawns can be promoted.   We can have any number of queens when pawns reach other end of the board.  Or a pawn can be promoted to any other piece like Ruke, or knight etc. when it reaches other side of the board.  But the normal practice is that a pawn reaching other side becomes a queen.

    En Passant :
     The last rule about pawns is called as 'en passan', which is a French word meaning "in passing".  If a pawn moves out two squares on its first move, and by doing so lands to the side of an opponent’s pawn (effectively jumping past the other pawn’s ability to capture it), that other pawn has the option of capturing the first pawn as it passes by. This special move must be done immediately after the first pawn has moved past, otherwise the option to capture it is no longer available. Click through the example below to better understand this odd, but important rule.

    Another rule is called as Castling.  The rook is the second most powerful piece in the chess board but rook starts the game in a poor position (corner) to use its power.  And the king is in the center position which becomes increasingly vulnerable as the game progresses.  To overcome these kind of problems, castling was invented.  Castling is the only move in which two pieces are moved at a time. The king is moved two squares towards one of his rooks and and then the rook is placed on the opposite side of the king.  If the king is moved two squares towards to the right, the rook is placed one square to the left of the king.  This will help the king to be in a safe position behind the wall of pawns.  A king can castle only once in a game and can castle to either side.  In order to castle, the following conditions are to be met.

    • it must be that king’s very first move
    • it must be that rook’s very first move
    • there cannot be any pieces between the king and rook to move
    • the king may not be in check or pass through check
     Remember that when you castle one direction, the king is closer to the side of the board.  This is called as kingside.  Castling to the other side, is called as queenside.  Regardless of which side castling is done, the king always moves two squares when castling.  The castling is very powerful move and it is a good idea to do castling as early as possible in the game.

    Here are the links to other articles in this blog.

    History of Chess
    Introduction to Chess
    Special Rules in Chess
    Check and Check Mate
    How Games are Drawn

    Saturday, 29 January 2011

    Introduction to Chess

    INTRODUCTION:    The game of chess is more than 1500 years old and is a popular game in the world.
    Chess is easy to learn but difficult to master.  Chess game is a tool for developing mental abilities.

    Chess is played by two persons and is a board game. The chess simulates battle between two opposing armies.
    You can see 64 squares of alternating colors ( white and black).  Each player has a set of 16 pieces as shown in the picture.  One player has a set of black pieces and the other player has the white pieces.  The set of pieces with each player is listed below.
    8 Pawns
    2 Bishops
    2 Knights
    2 Rooks, or Castles
    1 Queen
    1 King
    Before starting the game, the chess board is laid in such a way that each player has the white color square in the bottom right-hand side.  The chess pieces are arranged in such a way that the second row is filled with pawns.  The rooks go to the corners, then we have to place knights next to them followed by bishops and finally the queen who always go on her own matching colour ( white queen on white and black queen on black) and remaining square is filled with king.

    The player with white pieces starts the game.  So the players normally decide who get the change of white pieces by flipping a coin or having one player guessing the color of hidden pawn in other player's hand.  White then makes a  move followed by black, again white and so on.....


    The pawn is the weakest piece on the chess board.  The pawn moves laterally one square at a time as shown in the figure with one exception.  Each pawn can be moved two squares in the first move.  Pawns can only move forward.  When they reach the last row on the opposite side, they can be promoted to any type of piece on the chess board except the King.  Generally they are promoted as queen because queen is the most powerful piece in chess game.  So there can be more than one queen in chess game in each side.   The pawns can capture other pieces diagonally in forward direction as shown in the picture.  They are the only pieces which do not capture opponents in the same direction in which they move.

    The Bishop moves diagonally as shown in the picture.  It has a strength of about three pawns.  The bishop can move forward or backwards also. It can also move more than one square as long as it moves in straight line.
    So a bishop can move across the entire chess board. The bishop can not jump over a piece and it cannot move to a square of opposite color. The bishops capture by moving in their normal way to the square occupied by opponent's piece and replacing it.

    Knights have same strength like Bishop ( three pawns).  The moves of knights is very different from other pieces - going two squares in one direction, and then one more move at a 90 degree angle, like the shape of 'L'.  Knights are the only pieces that can move over other pieces.  Knights can move forward or backward and they capture opponent by moving in their normal manner to a square occupied by opponent's piece and replacing it.

    The rook also called as castle, has strength of five pawns.  The rook can move as far as it wants, but only forward, backward, and to the sides. You can see the movement of rook in the figure to the right.  In a given move, a rook can move in one direction along a straight line.  To capture a piece, rooks are moved in their normal manner to the occupied square where they replace the captured piece. The rooks are very powerful pieces particularly when they are protecting each other and working together!

     The queen is the most powerful piece in the chess board and its strength is equal to about 9 pawns. A queen can move in any straight - forward, backward, sideways, or diagonally - as far as possible as long as she does not move through any of her own pieces. A queen cannot move a corner like a bishop.  if the queen captures opponent's piece, her move is over.

    King :
    The king is the most important piece in chess board, but is one of the weakest piece.   The king is a little powerful than a pawn but is not an important piece in chess board.   The king can move only one square in any direction - forward, backward, laterally or diagonally.  You can see the figure here to know about the moves that a king can make.  A king cannot move to a square where it would be in danger of being captured.  A king can capture the opponent's piece on any square where it can legally move.  The king should never move himself into check.

    Here are the links to other articles in this blog.

    History of Chess
    Introduction to Chess
    Special Rules in Chess
    Check and Check Mate
    How Games are Drawn

    History of Chess

    The origin of Chess are not known clearly, but it is believed that it can be traced back to 6th century in India.
    At that time the game was known as 'Chaturanga'.  Different pieces in the Chess game have different powers and the victory in the game depends on the fate of one piece - the King. 

    The rules of chess and the movement of the chess pieces is same since 6th century till now.   The only change that happened is allowing the pawns to move two steps in the beginning.  The origin of Chess are not clearly known but the first mention of the Chess game was found in a persian poem according to which the game took place in India for first time.   According to some sources, the game was invented between four or five thousand years ago.

    Have you played Chess any time?  Chess is the oldest skill game in the whole world.  Chess can tell you more about how the people lived in medieval times.  Have a look at the way Chess Board is set up, and study the pieces how they are set up, you will realize that Chess is a history of medieval times in miniature. The six different chess pieces on the chess board represent a cross section of medieval life with its ceremonies, grandeur and wars.

    The game of chess was played many centuries ago in China, Persia and India.  But it is not exactly known from which country it has originated.  Arab army known as Moors invaded Persia in 8th century and Moors learned chess from Persians.  Later on Moors invaded Spain too, and the Moors brought the chess game to Spain and very soon Spain people also started playing chess.  The chess game quickly spread all over Europe from Spain.

    The names of chess pieces that we know today were given by Europeans. Europeans had trouble pronouncing and spellings of Persian names, so they might have changed the names to reflect the way they lived.  Today the names of chess pieces represent the way in which ordinary people and persons of high rank
    lived a thousand years ago.

    The pawns on the chess board represent the laborers or the serfs.  These pawns are sacrificed to save the more valuable pieces.  In medieval times, serfs were considered as property of land owners. The life of serfs was very hard during those times.  They worked hard and died at young age.  They could be traded, or even sacrificed  to allow land owners to escape from harm.

    The castle piece or the rooks on a chess board is the home, or the refuge, just as it was a home in medieval times. In chess, each side has two castles.

    The knight on the chess board represents the soldier of medieval times.  The job of knight was to protect the persons of high rank and we can see two of them on each side of the game of chess.  The knights in chess are more important than pawns but less important than bishops, kings or queens.  The purpose of knights is to protect more important pieces and they can be sacrificed to save those important pieces.

    We can see the bishop in the chess board.  The bishop represents the church.  The church was a rich and strong force in medieval times and the religion played a large part in every person's life.  A bishop was the name for a priest in the Catholic church who had risen through the ranks to a more powerful position.  We can see two bishops on each side of chess game.

    The queen is the only piece on chess board that represent a woman.  Queen is the most powerful piece of chess game.  We can see only one queen on each side of chess game.   During medieval times, queens held a powerful positions. The king was often guided by her advise.

    Now the king is the tallest piece on the chess board, and is well defended on the chess board just like in medieval times.  In those days, the surrender of the king means the loss of kingdom to invading armies.  So it is the responsibility from lowest pawn to the highest queen to keep the  king safe from harm. The king is the most important piece in chess game but it is not the powerful piece in the chess board.    You will lose the chess game if you cannot protect the king.

    So think of chess as a history lesson.  The pieces on the chess board represent the way of life in medieval times.

    Here are the links to other articles in this blog.

    History of Chess
    Introduction to Chess
    Special Rules in Chess
    Check and Check Mate
    How Games are Drawn

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