Chess is one of the oldest board games in existence and remains popular as a game for strategists, planners, and thinkers. In order to win, you’ll always have to plan at least a couple of steps ahead, anticipating your opponent’s moves. You can try to trick the other player into making certain moves, or you can try to outmanoeuvre them and force their hand. Here, you’ll find a variety of chess games with different difficulty settings. You can play 2-player games or challenge an AI opponent to practice your skills and hone your insight. Looking for more? Check out our complete overview of board games here!
If you’ve never played chess before, this is a great time to give it a try. You can get started and consult the game’s tutorial, or continue reading for a brief introduction to the rules. While the laws of chess vary somewhat per area, and specific rules govern certain competitions, here’s the general gist.
Chess is played with two players and a total of 32 pieces. Each player has 16 pieces, and the two sets can usually be told apart by color. Each player has eight identical pawns, which make up the front row (or rank) of your starting position. The pawns may only move forward one step at a time, and they can only strike an opposing piece by taking one diagonal step. Only on their first turn may pawns take two steps forward. On the outside corners of the back row are your rooks (these usually look like castle towers). Your rooks can only move in straight lines (forward, backward or sideways). Directly beside your rooks are your knights (these usually look like horses). The knight can move in an L shape in any direction. These pieces are also unique in that they are the only ones that can jump over other pieces. Next to the knights are the bishops, who can only move diagonally.
In the middle of the back row, you’ll find your king and your queen. You only have one of each. The queen can mimic the range of movement of any other piece, with the exception of the knight. This makes her a very versatile and powerful piece. The king, on the other hand, while also capable of moving in any direction, can only take one step at a time. This makes the king quite vulnerable. Capturing your opponent’s king is the game objective.
Throughout the game, you have to make sure you protect your king even as you attack your opponent. If you move a piece into a position that allows you to take your opponent’s king with your next turn unless your opponent intervenes to prevent it, this is called ‘check’. Your opponent is then forced to use their next turn either to move the king to safety or otherwise eliminate the threat (by striking your piece, for example). If your pieces are positioned around the king in such a way that escape is impossible, this is called ‘check-mate’, and you win the game.
Practice chess to hone your skills, and learn how to trick your opponent into making the wrong moves. For more strategy-based titles, don’t forget to check out our strategy games page, too. You can also try your hands at draughts or checkers, another popular strategy-based board game, with the titles collected in our checkers games section.