Lesson 4 - Basic Chess Rules: The Goal of the Game

"The pupil wants not so much to learn, as to learn how to learn."
- Samuel Boden

To win a game of chess, we have to capture the opponent's King. In order to succeed, a player must build an attack with his pieces, while restricting the enemy pieces, so he can build a wall around the enemy King to prepare its capture. The first player succeeding in this operation wins the game. A player can also be victorious when his opponent loose faith in his position on the board (not enough material to capture the enemy King or an undefendable position) and forfeits the game.

The Check

When a piece is attacking the opponent king, threatening to capture it on the next move, we say the the King is in "Check". In the example below, it is White to move.  If the White Queen is moving to the b3 square, it will threaten of capturing the Black King on the next move.  The Black King will then be in check. While playing a move attacking the opponent's King, a player usually says "check".

Click here to see the check on b3 by the white queen.
A check to the black King by the White Queen

Diagram 4.1 - A check to the black King by the White Queen

When a player's King is in check, he is required to do something about it prior to execute any other plan. In order to remove the check, he can use three of the four options we saw in lesson 3 "Attack and Threat": moving the King to a safe square (which is not controlled by an enemy piece), blocking the check with a piece or capturing the piece giving the check. In the example below, the black King is in check by the bishop sitting on c5:

3 options for removing a check

Diagram 4.2 - Three options available for removing a check

According to the rules, it is illegal to play a move that is not neutralizing a check when the King is attacked, or move the King to a square controlled by an enemy piece. If a player makes such a move, his opponent must notify him to play another move aiming to stop the check.

Let's continue the lesson with the next page on the checkmate (or the mate)online chess tutorial.