Chess Games and Chess Sets

There are mental benefits from playing chess games

Chess is the classic game of strategy. Just like in checkers, the game board is a square, with eight squares in each direction. The squares alternate between dark and light so that each color runs in diagonal lines across the board.

Often viewed as a status symbol or a sign of intellectual prowess, chess games require a great deal of foresight, planning and strategy skills. A chess player has to be able to anticipate his or her opponent's next few moves, and plan to move his or her chess pieces accordingly. Representative of medieval warfare, the goal of chess is to control as much of the playing field, or the chess board, as possible. Each player's ultimate goal is to capture their opponent's king.

A Brief History of Chess Games

The game of chess is at least 14 centuries old, and perhaps even older: Although the game may date back to the first century A.D., it wasn't until around 600 A.D. that chess games were first referred to in writing.

This game of chess most likely originates from the Middle East, in modern-day Afghanistan or India. However, chess games as we know them come from 15th century Southern Europe. As the game of chess was passed from culture to culture, it evolved into a more Westernized game. It also wasn't until this period that organized chess competitions began to take place.

How to Play Chess

A chess set consists of 32 pieces, 16 black and 16 white. Each player has eight pawns, two knights, two bishops, two rooks, a king, and a queen. A player wins by "checkmating" their opponent's king, which is where the king is under attack and unable to escape. Unlike checkers, each type of chess piece has a different way it must move:

Chess Pieces Unique Moves

• Pawns can only move in a forward line. Each pawn's first move can be two spaces, but after that they can only move one space. However, in order to capture a piece, a pawn must move diagonally forward.

• Knights move in an L-shaped pattern: two spaces forward, backward, or to either side, followed by one space to the right or left of the original trajectory. A knight captures a piece by landing on it in the destination square.

• Rooks may move as far as they can go in a straight line: forward, backward, or side to side. A rook captures another chess piece by landing on it in the destination square.

• Bishops may move as far as they can go in a diagonal line: forward left, forward right, backward left, or backward right. A bishop captures a chess piece by landing on it in the destination square.

• Queens may move as far as they can go in any direction, without turning. A queen also captures a piece by landing on it in the destination square. Although capturing the king is the object of the game, the queen is actually the most powerful piece on the board, because of the relative lack of limitations on how it moves.

• Kings can move in any direction, but only one square at a time. A king also captures a piece by landing on it in the destination square.

In addition to these basic moves, there are a variety of special moves that players can take advantage of:

• Castling is where the king moves two spaces toward a rook (either to the right or the left), and the rook moves to the space immediately on the other side of the king. Castling constitutes one turn, but in order to take advantage of this move, neither the king nor the rook can have moved yet, and there can't be any pieces between them.

• En passant is a move where one pawn takes another "in passing," without actually landing on the square where the captured pawn is. The play works like this: The black pawn moves ahead two squares (its first move), landing immediately next to the white pawn. The white pawn moves to the forward diagonal, capturing the black pawn as it does so.

• Promotion is where a pawn advances all the way to the other side of the board. Just as a regular piece in checkers is crowned as a king when this happens, in chess games the player can exchange the pawn for a queen. Underpromotion is where the player decides to make the pawn a knight, bishop, or rook instead of a queen.

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Benefits of Playing Chess

As you can see, there is a lot for each chess player to think about. Therefore, learning to play chess is thought to hone intellectual abilities such as logic, strategy, and creativity. Since being able to play chess games is seen as an important skill in some circles, having a chess set in your home to practice on will help you to perfect your chess technique and impress your acquaintances when the opportunity arises.

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