An Introduction to Chess: Rules for Setting Up the Board

Rules for Setting Up a Chess Board
While many of us want to learn how to play chess, we are not sure about the chess board set up. Although learning the rules and styles is a lot tougher, you have to start with the very basics. Which is knowing how to set up a chess board.
Did You Know?
The chessboard with alternating light and dark squares, as it is used today, was first made in Europe in the year 1090.
Chess is the oldest board game in the world, and is still being enjoyed by people all over the world. Games with objectives and rules similar to chess were invented in different parts of the world, but had their local differences. The game of chess is believed to have originated in the 6th century in Gupta Empire of Eastern India. Evidence of its early predecessor, known as Shatranj, was found in Persia, which later spread to the Western countries.

Chess, as we know it today, is said to have born out of shatranj. The way we play the game today, emerged in the 15th century in Southern Europe. It is a complex, but an interesting game that takes years of practice to master the moves. Deep Blue ― an IBM make, became the first computer to defeat a reigning champion in a match, when it beat Garry Kasparov in 1997.

Understanding a Chess Board

The Basics
Chess is played on an 8 X 8 checkered board. There are two sets of 'armies': one black colored and the other is white colored. Each army comprises 16 pieces; eight pawns, two rooks, two bishops, two knights, one king, and one queen. The moves of each of these pieces is different. Each of the 64 squares is labeled with a letter and a number. The two sides on which the armies are placed are denoted by letters (a―h) and the other two sides are denoted by numbers (1―8).

Setting Up the Board
  • The first step while setting up a chess board is to place it properly. Remember the phrase, "White is right." The board must be placed in such a way that the rightmost square on each opposing player's side is white.
  • The second step is to place the pawns. A pawn is easy to make out as there are so many of them. There are eight pawns to a side. Remember the square markings discussed earlier? Place the pawns in the second row from each side. The pawns will, therefore, occupy the squares labeled 2a―2h and 7a―7h.
  • The third step is to place the rooks. Now, how do you tell which one is the rook? The pieces that look like castle towers with a balcony-like space on the top are called rooks. These rooks are placed at the two ends of the bottom row on each side. Therefore, they occupy the squares labeled 1a and 1h for one army, and 8a and 8h for the other army.
  • The fourth placement is that of the knights. Simply put, knights look like horses. There are two pairs of knights, one black pair, and one white pair. These knights are placed in the empty spaces adjacent to the rooks that we placed in the previous step. It means that knights will go in the squares labeled 1b and 1g on one side, and 8b and 8g on the other side.
  • Next, come the bishops. The bishops basically look like minarets, thin and tall with a thin dome-like shape at the top. Bishops are again placed in the vacant space next to the knights. So based on the square labels, bishops go one squares 1c and 1f on one side, and 8c and 8f one the other side.
  • The last two positions belong to the king and the queen. Now, this one can have you in knots for a while till you learn this simple rule: the color of the queen is same as the color of the square! As there are only two vacant spots left in row 1 and row 8, the squares are either black or white. So, if you're setting up the white team, the queen will sit in the white square while the king will occupy the last and only spot vacant in row 1 and row 8. Distinguishing between queens and kings is easy, as queens are just marginally shorter than kings, and the kings have a cross on the top. Make sure that the queens and kings are sitting exactly opposite each other on the board. Queens go on 1d and 8d, and kings go on 1e and 8e.

The game of chess is meant to follow the strategies of the battlefield. It's as if you can see how you'd react if you were in command of a real army because the mindset stays more or less the same. So, set up the board and march to war!