Wednesday, February 3, 2010




Ok - let us start with our first special move... CHECK. In the position below we have an extremely common endgame - one reached MILLIONS of times EVERY DAY.

Notice the following things:
  1. The Black King has his anti-White King force field on. The White King can never step next to him.
  2. The Queen has built a prison for the enemy King from which he cannot escape - it is only two squares big. This will be important later on - when we talk about STALEMATE.
  3. The Black King cannot step outside of his prison as he will put himself in check - a rule we MUST NEVER EVER BREAK IN CHESS. Otherwise we have played an illegal move.
  4. It usually takes two pieces to overpower a King on an empty board. Here the White King and White Queen are more than powerful enough to do this.


Check is when - an enemy piece looks at our King.

If an enemy piece is looking at our King we want to do one of the three following things on our list CAPTURE, BLOCK and RUNAWAY. Trust me when I say that your King may need Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation if an enemy piece looks at him. He is a big coward! We want to preferably play one of these options and usually in this order:

  1. CAPTURE the enemy piece.
  2. BLOCK the enemy piece - with one of our other chessmen. It is like pulling your friend in front of you, using them as a shield for when someone throws a pie at you. Your friend gets hit instead of you! Of course they may not appreciate that sort of treatment... but that is between you and your friend - so leave me out of it!
  3. RUNAWAY. Have your King move away from the square that he is standing on so that the enemy piece can no longer stare at him/it.
If you cannot do any of the three things on this list - you have been CHECKMATED! Of course if we can checkmate our opponent - then we will do that as soon as possible.


In the board position given above it is not checkmate! It is only a check - because our King can capture the opponent's Queen.

After the move King takes Queen we now have two King left on the chess board. This is one of several different ways to draw a chess game. A draw means that neither player has won but that neither player has lost. It is an even game - even Steven - as both players have shared the point.

When we win a game we get a full point. 1 point equals one win.
When we draw a game we share the point or get half of a point. 1/2 - 1/2 means draw.
When we lose a game we get to eat a bagel. We get 0 points - but we do get to play more chess afterward!

A board with two Kings on it means the game has ended. The two Kings will never be able to attack each other so instead of moving these two pieces forever we just call it a draw.


This is what we are always playing for - in every game of chess.

Again we have the trapped King in a corner situation in chess up above.

Down below - aha... Checkmate!

Checkmate is when:

Our King and his loyal subjects cannot capture an enemy piece that is both attacking the King and safe from being captured. Checkmate happens when we are unable to block the check with one of our other pieces and checkmate also means that our King cannot run away as either all of the squares around him are being looked at/controlled by enemy pieces or his own friends/ loyal subjects get in the way - because they are standing on the squares next to him - and prevent him from running away.

1 - 0
(1 - 0 means White has won the full point.)

Notice that the Black King cannot capture the White Queen - if he were to do so then he would be giving and receiving check from the White King. Which violates the rule that we must never allow our own King to be checked by any enemy piece or pawn.

The Queen on b7 is safe because of the King on the c6-square.

The Black King on a8 cannot capture, block or runaway. So he has been checkmated!

  • He cannot block as the Queen is standing next to him.
  • He cannot run away as he is in the corner of the board.
  • He cannot capture the Queen because of the other King.
  • He cannot run to the a7 or b7 squares because the Queen also looks at these squares - plus the square he stands upon a8.

Stalemate is a kind of draw.

Stalemate happens when we make a careless move which allows us to control all of the squares AROUND the opponent's King and our opponent has no other pieces that they can move and their King stands upon the one square that we do not control.

Stalemate is like an old moldy piece of bread. Extremely gross if you were expecting a big healthy sandwich! Instead of winning we have allowed our opponent to get away with half of point - one half of the full point that should have been ours.

Of course if you are losing a game of chess then a stalemate is an extremely desirable result. It means that you have saved half a point and instead of getting no point you get to share half of the other player's point.

Stalemate is one of the two ways to draw a game that we have learned about during this lesson. There are others - which will be covered in future postings as they are somewhat more technical (E.g. 50 move rule and 3-fold repetition of position.) Of course another way that two players can get a draw is if one of them offers a draw to the other player and then that other player accepts the "draw offer" - the game then immediately ends in a draw. So that is a third way to make a draw that you have learned from this posting!

In the position below - after White's move Qc7 - notice all of the squares that the White Queen looks at. She looks at her King and every square that has part of a red arrow upon it. But the one square that she does not look at - that is the most important of the squares in and around where the opponent's King is located - is the square that the Black King stands upon. With Black to move this is a STALEMATE DRAW. Game over!


The whole point of a game of chess is to avoid having our King being trapped - that is checkmated - while trying to checkmate the opponent's King.

1 - 0
(1 - 0 means White has won the full point.)

In a future class we shall discuss how to use various endgame techniques to achieve the goal of checkmate - the first being King and Queen versus King, then King and Rook versus King and so on from there.


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