4 easy steps to start playing chess, scandal-free

Magnus Carlsen holds his head in his hands.

Photo: Koen van Weel / ANP / AFP (Getty Images)

Chess can be sexy. Anya Taylor-Joy on Netflix’s hit show The Queen’s Bet taught me that. Chess can also be diabolical and stupid. A viral (and unsubstantiated) claim that a 19-year-old chess champion beat the world’s best chess player, Norwegian pro Magnus Carlsen, in using smart tech anal beads to help him cheat, as well as recent controversies involving a Misogynist Grand Masteroh and the chess robot who broke the bones of a child, taught me. Chess hasn’t had such a wild year since the days when Marilyn Monroe’s legacy was desecrated for the first time only.

But, instead of being fanned by all those quirks, you may have been drawn to the swirling vortex of dark intrigue and chess espresso. Not one to shy away from weirdness, you thought it was time to dive into the game and start writing things down in notepads like sexy misogynists do. Yes of course. I can understand the appeal of a mysterious Norwegian. And I can teach you how to start chess, without any scandal.

1. Familiarize yourself with the board

In a match, a chessboard is laid out so that you and your opponent have the lighter colored square in the lower right. Regardless of the actual colors on your board, the player with the clear pieces plays “White” and takes the first move. The other player is “Black” and responds.

To set up your board, place eight pawns on the second row, or “rank”. Then, as if there were a mirror, place a rook in each corner of the front row, the knights next to them and the bishops next to the knights. Your queen sits next to the bishop on her matching color (a white queen sits on the white square, a black queen on the black), and your king sits next to her.

2. Get moving, online or offline

Chess is a formal game of cat and mouse. Your ultimate goal is to capture your opponent’s king in checkmate. But before killing the king, you must understand and remember that each of the six types of chess pieces has a definite range of power and a set of moves. Familiarizing yourself deeply with these limits will allow you to move forward with confidence and strategy.

Know this about your army:

  • Pions : can only push forward, but pawns can only capture pieces that are both diagonally and in front of them. Untouched pawns can move forward two squares, but if the moved pawn would have landed in the capture territory of an enemy pawn if it had only moved one square, it can be immediately captured By the way, or by the way. Pawns can also be “promoted” if they make it to the last square in a column, or “file”, and are exchanged for a rook, bishop, knight, or queen.
  • Turns: can move to any free space in front of, beside or behind them. They can also be used to “castle”, a one-time move applicable only to an intact rook and an intact king unobstructed by enemy pieces. The king also cannot be attacked or checked. After meeting these requirements, you can castle by cajoling your king two squares left or right, toward the rook you are about to move, and then sitting next to the king on his opposite side. You will not move two pieces at once outside of this move.
  • Knights: move in an L-shape, one square up and one square up, always to a different colored square it started on (a black knight moving from a white square back to black, then white , then black again, etc.) . Only knights can jump over other pieces while moving.
  • Bishops: move diagonally to any free square matching the color of its starting square.
  • Queen: The most fearsome chess piece can go anywhere for as long as it wants, as long as it doesn’t pass through another piece.
  • King: the king prawn can move one square in any direction.

The best way to embed the many rules of chess into your muscle memory is to play it. Liches, Chess.comand Chess24 offer free practice matches against computers or beginner-friendly skill-based matches. If you prefer to train on a physical board or just want to have one, you don’t need anything fancy, but weighted sets and materials like vinyl or woods like boxwood and rosewood are durable. , pleasant to move and easy to transport. Chess sets don’t have to be expensive either, as this $25 weighted vinyl board from Chess House helpfully tagged with algebraic notation.

3. Get to know the community

Outside of the basic rules outlined here, Chess is filled with passionate people, innovative gameplay, and plenty of drama worthy of a bag of microwaveable popcorn. The very active r/chess and r/chessbeginners are inexpensive ways to chat with enthusiasts and learn more about chess.

Your town or city also probably has a few chess clubs or hangouts. In New York, where I live, beginners are welcome to buy boards or play games on Chess forum in Greenwich Village, or sit at a stone chess table in parks like Washington Square, Union or Bryant. Hell, you might even have your own exciting Finding Bobby Fischer live. Moving orchestral score not included.

But to possibly play in tournaments, some of which perform online or weeklyyou will need to purchase a membership in the American Chess Federation (one year for an adult over 24 and under 65 costs $45). A membership also qualifies you for an official US Chess Ranking.

4. Maintain a healthy relationship with your gastrointestinal tract

Don’t put anything chess-related in your butt. Or don’t tell any Norwegians about it. If you do, they’ll alert the media and your burgeoning chess career will be crushed like a bug.