Lesson 1 - Rules of Chess: Starting Position, Wings and Center

We now know a little more about the chess pieces and the chessboard, but that is not enough though... before thinking about playing a game, we need to know how to setup the board and pieces correctly!

The Starting Position

Before starting a game, we need to learn how to place the pieces on the board... but first of all, we have to ensure the board is on the right side: the bottom left square of the first rank facing each player must be dark. Then, all the pawns are placed on the second rank facing each player (rank 2 for White and rank 7 for black). After that, the king and queen go in the center and then follow the bishops, the knights and to finish, the rook on the last columns (a and h). But back to the kings and queens... should we place the queen on the right or left side? Well, she goes on the left side for White and right side for Black (supposing each player is behind his pieces). But if you want a trick to remember where the queens go, they always occupy the square of the same color then their own. So the white queen goes on the ligth square and the black queen on the dark square. The Kings occupy the other square available in the center. Here is the starting position:

Diagram 1.5 - Chess Starting Position

Diagram 1.5 - The Starting Position

There is a convention in chess books and online sites that goes like this: unless stated otherwise, all chess diagrams have White side on the bottom and Black on top. So please keep that in mind while surfing through the site.

The Wings And The Center

Other important concepts in chess are the wings and the center. Intermediate and advanced players know well the importance of these zones. The center is defined by the d4, d5, e4 and e5 squares. These squares are the ones seeing the most activity during a game: the 2 longest diagonales, the 2 central columns and ranks go right through them. So a lot of activities happen in the center. The player who will succeed in controling the center will then obtain an advantage over his opponent (we will see in other lessons that his opponent can have compensation in other aspect of the game though). In the below diagram, the center is represented by the blue squares:

Diagram 1.6 - The Center on The Chessboard

Diagram 1.6 - The Center

Aside from the center, the chessboard has also 2 wings: the queenside and the kingside.   The queenside is composed of the 4 columns starting with the column the queen is sitting at the beginning of the game and ending with the side of the board (to the left for White or to the right for black). So the columns a, b, c and d are in the queenside. The kingside are the other 4 columns starting with the column the king occupies at the beginning of the game and ending with the side of the board (right side for White and left side for Black). Columns e, f, g and h are part of the kingside. The chessboard is then divided vertically by 2 zones as we can see in the diagram below:

Diagram 1.7 - The Wings on The Chessboard

Diagram 1.7 - The Wings

Once again, wings are important when building strategies. Depending on how the pieces are deployed on the chessboard during a game, the players will try to take more space on the king or the queensides. We will learn more about that in other lessons.

Let's see if you grasp everything with the exercises available on the next page.online chess tutorial

I do not recommend it, but you can also skip the exercises and go directly to the next lesson and learn how the pieces move.