Chess is the ultimate game of strategy and mental stimulation. It has been a popular pastime for ages, and its challenge has attracted millions of enthusiasts.
For some, chess remains an enigma—intimidating jumbled pieces that seem impossible to puzzle out. So, is chess hard to learn as it appears?
Learning chess isn’t hard. Apart from investing time and effort to keep learning, all you need to know is the basics: how each piece moves, how to checkmate your opponent, and a few techniques here and there.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the basics of chess along with a few success strategies to become an expert chess player in no time.
Is Chess Hard to Learn?
The short answer is no. It might not be the simplest game to play, but it’s surely not the hardest learning experience.
You just need to know the basic rules, the movements of each chess piece, and how to checkmate.
The Basics of Chess
Chess may appear to be extremely hard to play. Most often than not, people assume that only brainiacs can master it. The thing is, anyone can play chess. Your commitment and enthusiasm are what will set you apart from other players.
Here are a few basics to get you started.
Learning Chess Pieces’ Movements
Chess has six major pieces. There are eight pawns as the frontliners guarding the king, queen, bishop, knight, and rook. Each piece has a distinct movement within the chessboard.
As a newbie, the first step is to know how and when to move them.
Ironically, the king is the weakest of all the chess pieces. That’s why you need to guard it at all costs.
Although the king moves one square in any direction, it’s best to use it as rarely as possible.
Of all the chess pieces, the queen is the most powerful and formidable one since it can move in every direction.
The queen combines the abilities of the rook and the bishop. It can move both vertically and horizontally, as well as diagonally at either the black or white square. Yet, one thing the queen can’t do is jump like the knight.
The knight is placed between the bishop and the rook. Typically, this piece is represented by a horse head.
Besides the pawn, the knight is the other piece that you can use for your first move. This piece makes an L-shaped movement around the board.
You can find the bishop sitting next to the king and queen. This piece can move at will, but only diagonally.
Additionally, you’ll have two bishops on the board. One is on the light square, while the other is on the black dark square. Keep in mind that each piece can only move on either a black or white square.
Each player is given two rooks. They’re often designed like a tower and are placed on the board’s edges.
Like bishops, rooks can move endlessly—however, only vertically or horizontally.
This piece always goes forward. You can only move it one square ahead; though you may advance it two square forward on your first move.
You can move the pawn diagonally to capture your opponent’s piece. While they aren’t usually moved in this manner, this is the only time you can move the pawn crossways.
Learning the Basic and Special Rules
The basic rules include check, which means your king is under attack, and checkmate, which means your king is under attack and has no legal squares to move to.
On the other hand, castling, en passant, and pawn promotion are part of the special rules.
This is a move where the king advances two square to the left or right, and the rook moves next to it.
You can do castling when these four rules are met:
- The king hasn’t been moved yet
- It must be the rook’s first move
- There’s no chess piece between the rook and the king
- The king shouldn’t be in check or pass through a check
This means seizing a passing pawn. For example, if a pawn advances two square on its first move and falls to the side of an opponent’s pawn, that pawn can take the first pawn as though the latter had moved just one square.
Given that, you should execute this move soon after the first pawn has passed. Otherwise, the chance to capture is forfeited.
According to this rule, if a pawn gets to the last row of the opposite side, it’s given the opportunity to be promoted to one of the four pieces: knight, queen, rook, or bishop.
Contrarily, a classic myth says that a pawn can only be traded for a captured piece. Although a pawn is often traded for the queen since it’s the most powerful piece.
Learning to Checkmate
In chess, checkmating your opponent gives you the win. In the event you’re checked, you can evade it by doing these:
- Get out of the way
- Capture the threat piece
- Block the check with another piece
If the king can’t avoid checkmate, the game is over.
Strategies to Improve Your Chess Game
You can always improve your chess skills, no matter where you are. With the right attitude and mindset, excelling at chess can be both exciting and intuitive.
Practice a Lot
Nothing gets better without a lot of practice, and chess is no exception. Grab any chance to play chess. There are a lot of ways to play, whether you’re on the road, on a phone or computer, or at home.
Learn from Your Past Games
Playing without analyzing your games isn’t the most effective way to improve. Each game involves multiple errors. So, you must learn from your mistakes and avoid making them again.
Know the Basic Endgames
Interestingly, most chess games don’t end quickly. Yet, they usually end after so many moves and with the majority of the chess pieces having been traded. This often results in just the king and some pieces remaining.
This is the endgame in which one of the main goal is to promote the pawn to a queen.
Knowing how to handle the endgame can help you score many victories.
Double-check Your Moves
Avoiding poor plays is one of the most crucial aspects of improving your chess game.
Thus, before executing your move, always double-check to ensure that your king is protected and that you’re not throwing pieces for free.
So, is chess hard to learn? In essence, chess is easy to learn but hard to master. It takes a lot of patience, commitment, and a few techniques here and there.
Ultimately, chess is always tough. But knowing all the basic rules and incorporating all the successful strategies will help you become a chess master.