Sport logo.

Articles: Chess


Chess is a board game for 2 players. It is a highly tactical game where players attempt to win by manoeuvring different pieces in different ways. The objective being to be able to slay the opponents King piece. It is considered one of the most intellectual pursuits of mankind, requiring immense intellectual prowess.

The game has its origins in India during the Gupta Empire, around 250 AD. By the year 1000, it had reached western Europe and Russia via Persia and its subsequent conquest by Muslim forces. The game evolved in Europe and by 1475, several changes were made that made it the chess game that is known today. As chess gained popularity across Europe, many clubs were formed and the first tournament was held in 1851 in London as the brainchild of Howard Staunton.

The modern game of chess came into its own in the early years of the twentieth century, with dominance passing from German players after the Second World War to the Soviet Union. During the entire Soviet Era, all the chess world champions were Soviets, with one exception - the American Booby Fisher, who defeated Soviet National Boris Spassky in Helsinki in 1972. A match billed as a battle of the superpowers, which attracted the greatest publicity of any chess match in history. The modern game of chess is one of the most widely played games in the world, and is popular in Europe, the USA, Russia and India.

The game of chess

Chess is played by both men and women at all levels, although the senior levels do not have an age barrier. The brilliant Booby Fisher won the “Game of the Century” aged 13 against an opponent twice his age.

The game is played on a square board divided into 64 checked squares in an 8x8 grid. Players can choose either black or white pieces to play, and each side has sixteen pieces. The most important piece is the king, followed by the queen, and a pair of rooks, knights, and bishops. In addition, each side has 8 pieces named pawns. Each piece has its own unique pattern of movement.

At official tournaments, there is also a dual clock timer, and each player records the time it takes him to think about and make a move.

Beginning of a chess match

A game of chess commences with the toss of a coin, as one player wins the right to chose the colour he wants to start with. The white coloured pieces always start first in a game and are considered to have a tactical advantage over the black ones. The player using the white piece then proceeds to make his opening move. This is a crucial part of any chess match, and the opening moves and counter moves have been studied in immense depth - over the years, volumes of books have been written about them.

Rules of chess

Chess rules are governed by the Fédération Internationale Des Échecs (FIDE), founded in Paris in 1924. The main objective of the game is to win by placing pieces in a position where the opponents King piece can always be slain or has no legal next move. To achieve this, players can move their pieces in various ways according to each piece.

The king piece can move only one square in any direction, including diagonally. The queen can move any distance either diagonally across the board, up and down the board or sideways across the board. A bishop can only move in diagonals across the board in all directions. The rook can move up, down or sideways across the board in a straight line. And finally, the pawn can only move forward one square, unless it is at the starting line, in which case it can move 2 squares. The knight is a unique piece in chess since all other pieces cannot jump over pieces obstructing their path on the board. The knight can move three squares, 3 squares in any direction left/right or up/down followed by one square sideways from the first 2. In its move, it is allowed to jump over pieces normally obstructing its path of movement.

If a player can move his piece onto a square occupied by an opponent’s piece, he may elect to do so and the opponent’s piece is removed from the board, having been considered killed in battle.

Check is the situation where the King piece is threatened to be slain but the player can still defend by moving the King piece or positioning another piece to block the attacking piece. Checkmate is the situation where the King piece is threatened to be slain and has no defense possible. This is effectively the end of the game.

A draw is possible in chess if both players have insufficient pieces to be able to checkmate the opponent, or if one side has no legal moves whilst not being in check.

Chess is scored as either a win or lose in single game match. In multiple game matches such as the World Championship Play Off every year, a win is considered a best of 12 games. A point is given for a win and half a point is given for a draw.

Game flow and tactics in chess

Chess is one of the most tactically complex games in the world due to the immense variations and variety of positions possible. At the top level of the sport, players are able see many moves ahead and plan accordingly. The initial flow of the game is based around each player developing his own pieces and position to attack the opponent, while keeping his position secure. Players will then be looking for mistakes in the opponent’s play, or use deception and sacrificing one of their pieces to force the opponent to open up his side of the board.

Players and coaches will study an opponent and his previous games to gain an insight into his tactical thinking. During play, it is forbidden for any coaching to occur.

Chess competitions

There are many well sponsored chess tournaments around the world. Each year, there are several candidate tournaments that enable the winner to challenge the World Champion for the title. The pinnacle of chess is the World Championship Play Off between the reigning champion and the title contender. There are other forms of tournaments with their own world champions, such as blitz chess and rapid chess.

Most chess professionals come through the ranks and start winning tournaments; most of the current crop of top players were chess prodigies who started to make an impact on the game in their teens and twenties. This includes the current World Champion Magnus Carlsen, who became a chess grand master at the tender age of 13.

Betting on chess.

Most betting on chess matches occurs when the big televised tournaments are on; bets tend to be on the winner of tournaments, as well as on the winners of individual matches, not games, since at the high level of professional chess, a large number of games end in a draw. The pinnacle for chess betting is the annual Chess World Championship.