My favorite joke about chess is that it must have been designed by a feminist. Why? The King is the target. His movements are very limited. In fact, there is only one way that a King can move more than one square at a time. We’ll discuss that later in the article. However, the only feminine piece on the board is the Queen. The Queen can move any direction on the board, and any number of squares. Her only limitation is that she cannot jump over other pieces. This makes the Queen the most powerful piece on the chess board, and the King is the most vulnerable with its limitations.
The pawns are the least valuable of all of the game pieces. On their first move, a pawn can move either one or two spaces forward. However, they can only capture another piece on the forward diagonal, to either side. Pawns are primarily defensive. How the pawns are developed is very important for the protection of the King. Pawns must work together, with the assistance of stronger pieces, in order to provide a good defense for the King. There is one other feature about pawns that most players fail to respect: Pawns are baby Queens. If a pawn makes it all the way to the 8th rank, it is promoted to whatever piece the player chooses, usually a Queen. This reality can have a major impact on the strategy of some chess games.
Bishops flank the King and Queen. Bishops can move an unlimited number of spaces, at diagonals only. However, bishops cannot jump over other figures. This means that a pawn must be moved to give a bishop a way to move out of the first rank and become an offensive weapon. There is one bishop on a white space and one bishop on a black space. And, these bishops never leave the color of spaces that they begin on. This fact plays into the strategies a player uses in developing his or her attack or defense.
Knights are to the outside of the bishops. Knights have to unique move characteristics. Knights can jump over the opponents figures. The Knight is the only one that moves two spaces and then one space to the right or left, in any direction. When a player learns how to use Knights and Bishops in combinations, their game will become much stronger.
Rooks are two tower-like figures on the outside squares, beside the Knights. Rooks can move freely on the rank and file, but cannot jump over the opponent’s figures. Rooks are strongest when they work together, linked on a rank or a file.
Finally, what is rank and file? There are 8 files, straight forward and backward, on the chess board. There are also 8 ranks, straight side to side, on the chess board. This means that the chess board has a total of 64 squares for the chess figures to play on and develop a win by placing the King in check with the inability to move out of check. This is the object of the game, known as a checkmate.