Starting a Chess Game

How to start a chess game? Well, first you have to set up the board. See: board setup

The White player moves first. It is always White playing first. In theory, it wouldn’t matter if Black played first, but the rule is the White pieces move first. So the decision of who moves first is really the decision of who gets to play White.

Who plays White vs Black? Usually it doesn’t actually matter in beginner chess. Just negotiate. Or you can do that trick with the pawns hidden in the hands. In social chess, you can just alternative between Black and White with every new game. In tournaments, it will be specified in the “pairings” who is playing who, and the first named player has the White pieces.

One Move Each: White plays first. Each player then takes it in turns to make one move. Always one move only, unless you are playing “two move chess” (a weird chess variant).

Most moves involve only a single piece. You pick up a piece, and move it to an empty square. You have to do it using the correct “piece moves”, which are different for all 6 pieces:

You’ll notice that on the very first move, only pawns or Knights can move. The other pieces are blocked in and cannot move. You have to move a pawn if you want to move a Bishop or Queen.

Capturing: You can take the enemy pieces using your pieces. For the 5 bigger pieces, if you can move to a square of an enemy piece, then you take it by moving to the enemy piece’s square, throw the enemy piece off the board, and put your piece where the enemy piece was. Pawn captures are a little trickier, because pawns capture differently from how they move normally.

Fancy move rules: There are some complicated moves that count as a single move: castling, pawn promotion, and en passant are all tricky moves with multiple pieces, but they count as a single move.