Chess is a board game that originated in the SubContinent about 2000 years ago. From there, the game spread to Persia via trade and commerce. The Arabs subsequently took the game from the Persians and brought it to Southern Europe via their sphere of influence in Spain and Portugal.

Along with chess, the Arabs also introduced the Vedic concept of Zero as a physical but intangible quantity, to Europe. Much is made of the link between chess and mathematics; although there is very little proof via any meaningfully quantifiable tests or experiments.

In the SubContinent, the game is called Satrangh and the Anglicised term Checkmate is a corruption of the Farsi term, Shah Mat; meaning Mat – death of the Shah or King.

The ultimate aim of the game is to devise various strategies and plans, in order to place the opposing King in a situation, where he must surrender.

This is achieved by taking opposing pieces off the board by positioning your pieces on to the squares that they occupy. In essence, there is only space for one individual piece on any given square and the latest arrival gets to occupy the square and remove the current incumbent.

Today, chess is very popular in the Philippines; which has the largest number of registered players anywhere in the World. In England it is regulated by the English Chess Federation.

The Soviet Union also placed great emphasis on chess to demonstrate the achievements of the human potential via their system of Socialism and you may have heard and seen of the great battles between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer in the 1970s and 80s; which were proxy exhibitions between the Socialist Model and the Capitalist Model of organising Human Society.

The oldest chess club in England is in Hastings and in London, one of the very first chess clubs is Wanstead and Woodford; established in 1946, which is today in the London Borough of Redbridge, in Essex.

Introducing the chessboard and the square co-ordinates.

The game is played over a board that has 8 times 8; ie 64 squares, which are marked in two alternating colours, usually black and white. 32 squares are of one colour and 32 are of the opposing colour.

The Rows of the board are referred to as the Rank and are numbered from 1 to 8, whilst the Columns or Files are lettered and addressed from a to g.

Each square on the board has a unique reference code which is marked by its Rank and File co-ordinate. Examples of these would be a1 – which is the extreme bottom left black square and h8 – which is the corresponding extreme right black square along the same diagonal.

The pieces themselves are equally distributed to both players and include 8 pawns, one king, one queen, 2 bishops, 2 knights and 2 rooks; each.

The orientation of the board is always such that, rank 1 is the first rank for the white side and rank 8 being the side that black occupies.

The white pawns are placed along rank 2 and the black pawns are along rank 7. The white king occupies square e1 and faces off the black king on e8.

White always has the first move, or what is termed as the opening move.

(All diagrams are courtesy of and are free of copyright restrictions)

Diagram 1 – Starting Position (rank and file layout)
Diagram 2 – Rank, File and Diagonal
Diagram 3 – the individual co-ordinates per square with their algebraic description

Below are the identification of the pieces and their symbolic representation.

The queen: each player owns only one queen at the beginning of the game.

The king: each player owns only one king during the entire game.

The pawn: each player owns 8 pawns at the beginning of the game.

The bishop: each player owns 2 bishops at the beginning of the game.

The knight: each player owns 2 knights at the beginning of the game.

The rook: each player owns 2 rooks at the beginning of the game.

Description of the moves permissible for each piece.

The initial move for a pawn is either one step forward or two steps forward. After the first move a pawn is restricted to being able to only forward one step at a time, unless it takes an opposing piece; which would then entail having to move forward diagonally.

Pawns cannot move backwards or sideways.

Diagram 4 – Moving Pawns

Bishops move diagonally across the board and also capture opposing material in the same fashion. They are constricted by having to move only on their corresponding diagonal colour.

Diagram 5 – Moving the Bishop

Knights move in a 2 and a half fashion or in an L pattern. It has the advantage of being the only piece that can leap over pieces to reach its destination, whereas every other piece needs to have a clear path to be able to reach its target square.

Diagram 6 – Moving the Knight

Rooks or castles can only move along the rank and file in a straight line.

Diagram 7 – Moving the Rook

If you have the time, you could walk through this notated game.

White Black

e4 e5

Bc4 Nc6

Nf3 Qe7

a3 Nf6

Bd5 Nxd5


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.