Un petit vote en passant serait sympa !

Moving the Pieces

Return to librairy

Piece Movement and Special Moves!

The Chessboard

The board is composed of 64 sqaures (8x8) aternately coloured black and white. It is placed between the two players so that the bottom right hand square is a white one. The board thus has 8 columns, notated a to h from left to right, and 8 rows, numbered 1 to 8 (from bootom (white) to top (black)). In a printed representation we call the board a diagram.

The King

The King is the most important piece and the only one which may not be taken and removed from the board. It is recognisable by the cross on the summit of the piece. The king may move one square in any direction, horizontal, vertical, or diagonal, PROVIDING that the arrival square it is not one which a piece of the opposing side controls (ie may move to).


If the king is directly attacked by an opposing piece it is said to be in CHECK and this fact must be announced by the opponent. If the king is unable to escape a check on the next move, then is is considered to be captured and the game is over. This situation is called CHECKMATE and the game is immediately ended; the side being in checkmate is the loser. This situation is the overall objective of each player and is the only means of actually winning, though an opponent whose ultimate checkmate is inevitable, may resign beforehand.

There are three ways of escaping check:-

It follows from the above that the two kings may never find themselves next to each other - a fact very important in an endgame.


With one exception, the Knight, all other pieces may move, as far as their individual move capacities allow, until their way is barred by another piece. The maximum move in that direction is then the square in front of the barring piece. If the piece is an opposing piece, it may be captured (except for a king) and the taking piece then occipies the square that the captured piece was standing on. If, at the end of your move, the oppents King may be captured on your NEXT move, it is said to be in check (see above) and this fact must be announced by saying 'check' in a loud enough voice so that the oppenent may hear, but not loud enough to distract other players elsewhere.

The Queen

The Queen is the most powerful piece by virtue of its move capabilities. It is recognised by the crown on the summit of the piece. She can move in any direction as far as the edge of the board, subject to the conditions of the General Move Rule above.

The Castle or Rook

Whilst the name was originally Castle, this caused come problems with notation because the C of Castle as an abbreviation for the picee could be easily confused with the C of the column notation of the board. So an alternative was sought and, the Tower of London bing the best known Castle for the English and this tower is reputed for its Rooks and Ravens that have lived there for a thousand years, the word Rook was adopted in modern times to give an R as is abbreviation instead and it is this word which is used hereafter.

The Rook may move as far as the edge of the board in either the vertical or horizontal directions (but not a any combination of the two, just one or the other)subject to the General Move Rule. It is recocognised by its Castle tower shape and battlements/castellations on the top.

 The knight

The Knight move is the most difficult for beginners to master because it has a combined horizontal and vertical move, making it effectively an 'L' shape. You should look at it as two row squares left or right and then one suqare up or down the column AND also two column squares up or down and then one row square left or right. Each gives four distinct possibilities which together make a total of 8. The Knight can jump over intervening pieces to arrive at its destination. The destination must either be an empty square or one containing an opposing piece which may then be captured (except the King). The Knight is recognised by its Horsehead appearance.

It is important to realise that the Knights position on the board determines the number of possible moves it can make. In the centre of the board there are 8. At the side of the Board there are 4. In the corner of the board , there are 2. Note also that the arrival square is always the opposite colour to the departure square, eg if its standing on a white sqaure, all possible arrival squares are black.

 The Bishop

The Bishop moves only diagonally on any of the four possible diagonals without changing direction during its move (ie no zigzag) to the limit of the edge of the board. This means that if it is standing on a black square, it can only move along black squares and the inverse. As such it is the only piece that cannot change the colour of the square on which it starts. This means that there is only half the squares on the board which it can move to or attack. It is subject to the General Move Rule. The bishop is recognisable by its mitre shaped top which has a slot in it.

The pawn

The pawn is the smallest piece and at the start of the game each side has 8 of them all the same. It has additional move considerations. With two exceptions, it only moves one square at a time vertically forward. A pawn can never move backwards. It is subject to the General Move Rule with some additional considerations.


Particular Pawn Rules


Special Moves


Castling is the only move which allows the displacement of two pieces at the same time, the king and a Rook. It can only be carried out if certain conditions are met. It has as objective putting the King into shelter on the side of the board and bringing the rook into play towards the middle.

There are two possibilities -the King and the Rook on the Kinside of the Board make the castling move, called kings-side castling or castling on the King's side, or the King and the Rook on the queenside of the board make the castling, move called queens-side castling or castling on the queen's side. The essential difference between the two is that on the kings side the king ends up one sqaure from the edge of the board and on the queenside, two squares.

To make the castling move you take the two pieces, one in each hand, and move the king two squares towards the Rook and then place the rook on the centre board side of the king and on the square adjacent to it. An alternative method which is accepted for the physical displacement is to move the king the two squares towards the rook, and then take the rook and put it on the correct square alongside the King. NEVER move the rook to its correct square FIRST, as the opponent can insist that this was your move and be correct in doing so and I have actually seen this happen in a tournament.


The following conditions need to be met for the castling move to be legal:-

How to read a chess game

Thanks to the system of notation, a game of chess may be noted down from beginning to end, and in competition chess this noting of moves is obligatory. It is noted using a special shorthand, called notation, based on an abbreviation for the Piece and using the identification of squares provided by the numbering of rows and the lettering of columns given at the statrt of this section, recalled by the following diagram.

Thus each square can be identified by its two co-ordinates column and row. By convention the column letter is always given first. Thus a1 refers to the lower left hand corner of the board, a8 to the upper left hand corner. h1 to the lower right hand corner and h8 to the upper right hand corner. e1 would refer to the square on which the white king is initially placed and e8 to the one for the black king.

So to refer to a King move we could say, assuming the move was possible and the king started on e1, Kd1 - moving one square to the left, or Ke2 - moving one square up the board. The letter K being the abbreviation for the piece and by convention that is befoe the sqaure given. In the case of a knight, to distinguish it, the letter N is used. So we could have Nf3, signifying that the Knight moves from its current position (wherever it may be)to the square f3. If there is a possibility of two identical pieces moving to the same square then the reference of the start square is included in brackets, eg N(d2)f3. If no piece is mentioned, then a pawn is assumed, eg e4 would be a pawn move from either e2 or e3 to the square e4.

Apart from being able to record a game, notation is designed to be easily readable so that the moves may be visualised mentally. An example of a well-known series of opening moves with everything in the start position follows:-

The ..... indicate that the move is blacks reply to the same move number when comments or explanations are included. Without them the sequence would have been:-

This system of notation is readily readable with a little familiarity but there is a problem. Thats because the abbreviation list is based on the names of the pieces in a particalr written language, in english they are

But these are different in other languages, for example in french a Knight is 'Cavalier' and its abbrevation 'C' and in German it is 'Springer', abbreviation 'S'. In short, unless you take the trouble to learn abbreviations in other languages, you cannot read games from those countries, and the situation gets worse because the russians, a very strong chess nation with millions of players dont even use the roman alphabet but a cyrillic one, not to mention nations such as the chinese with their ideograms/pictograms.

INTERNATIONAL NOTATION (abbreviated to IN in some of the following)

To overcome this an international notation was developed whose main difference is that there is no abbreviation for a piece but instead the start and end square are given, thus identifying whatever is on that square at the time. This has the advantage of being unambigious in any language but suffers from the drawback of not being so readily visualisable. The previous annotations are shown now in this format. Sometimes a dash is used to separate the co- orodinates for easier readability

As you can see its much less easier to follow and requires great concentration to be able to continue to visualise what pieces are where, or actually playing through it on a board.


Taking a piece is indicated by the letter 'x', eg Bxc6 or c5xc6 in IN
Kingside castling is indicated by O-O and queenside by O-O-O
Check is indicated by a following '+', Bc6+ or b5c6+ in IN
The winning side is indicated by 1-0 after the last move if it is white which won, or 0-1 if balck won. A draw is 0.5 - 0.5 Sometimes in place of the move, the word resigns appears, indicating that the player resigned and so the other has won.

Principal Commentry Signs

These signs following a move are given to indicate what experts or the players themselves think of a particular move:-

Pour renseignements écrire à

Go to librairy