Knowing the rules of chess is essential if you want to pick off the pawns, knock the knights from their diagonal steeds and conquer the King. Today marks International Chess Day. So, what better way to celebrate and begin your own checkmate challenge than by discovering how to play chess. Join Jaques of London, as we bring the king of games to kids and newbies alike, with the ultimate starter guide to the basic chess rules.


Introducing Chess to Children


Chess is a wonderful way to boost budding brain power and create tiny tacticians the world over. For more information on how to get your child intro chess, the perfect age for them to start, and the many benefits chess can bring to kids, please make your move to the Jaques Mini Minds hub, where you will find our guide to The Best Age to Begin Playing Chess.



What are the Pieces of Chess and its Function?


Pawn Chess Set Piece


Pawn – There are 8 Pawns on each side of the chess board. On its first move, the pawn can move forward 1 or 2 spaces. From then on, it can only move 1 space at a time in a straight line. It captures other pieces diagonally, one space ahead. The pawn does not move backwards.

If the pawn reaches the furthest row on the board, it is promoted to a Knight, Bishop, Rook or Queen.




Knight Chess Set Piece



Knight – There are 2 Knights on each side of the chess board. They move in an L shape (in any direction) and can jump any other piece in the process.





 Bishop Chess Set Piece


Bishop – There are 2 Bishops on each side of the chess board. They move diagonally for any number of squares.





Castle Chess Piece



Rook – There are 2 Rooks on each side of the chess board. They move vertically or horizontally for any number of squares.





Queen Chess Set Piece



Queen – There is 1 Queen on each side of the chess board. They move in any direction (straight or diagonally) for any number of squares.






King Chess Set Piece


King – There is 1 King on each side of the chess board. They can move in any direction (diagonally or straight), but only for 1 square at a time. The King cannot move into a square adjacent to the opposing King, where it will be put into check by an opponent’s piece, or into a space already occupied by one of its own pieces.

Now that we know about the chessmen available to each player, let’s look at how we set them up in order to begin our first chess game.



How Do You Set Up the Chess Board?

Before you can even hope to declare check, you must make sure that your chequered battleground is primed with willing warriors by setting up the chess board. So, collect your chessmen pieces and set up your opposing teams as shown in the diagram below:


Chess Board Setup


For a guide to finding the very best chess boards for players of all experience levels, why not take a gambit gaze at our blog on the very best chess sets you can buy today.


What are the Basic Rules of Chess?


Beginning a Game of Chess – Fortunately, the rules of chess make beginning the game incredibly easy. There is only one rule to follow, white begins the game, after which players take alternate turns to move a piece until the conclusion of the game. As you become a true connoisseur of chess, you may begin to add timers to the game. But, for now, let’s get pint-sized pawns into the game for the first time.


Castling in Chess – Castling is a special move in chess. It is used commonly as players become more skilled and experienced with the king of games. With this move, a player can swap the positions of the rook and king. This is often done to move the King into a safer and more defensive position. However, castling can only be carried out if neither piece has been moved.

During this move, the King must move two spaces towards either rook. The corresponding rook then moves towards and over the King to fill the square next to the Kings new position.


Check & Checkmate – Check occurs when the King is in a position whereby it is under attack by the opposing pieces capturing movement (For example, in a straight line to the Rook without any pieces in between).

Checkmate is the deciding factor in a game of chess and the target of all players when guiding their pieces to victory. This is when the King is unable to evade check. The game is then declared over and the opposing player has won the game.


Stalemates – Chess doesn’t only mean victory or defeat. During a game of chess, there is a third possible result, the stalemate. This is a draw that can occur with the following circumstances:

  • Both players agree to declare the game a draw.

  • There are no longer enough pieces on the board in order for either player to claim victory.

  • Check has been repeated 3 times in a row.

  • A player is not in check, but can no longer make any legal moves with their remaining pieces.


Now that you know how to set up and begin your very first game of chess, why not swing by the Jaques of London Chess Sets Collection for your choice of the very best chess sets that money can buy. When it comes to chess, Jaques are the home of chessmen design. In fact, the popularised Staunton Chess Design was first manufactured and sold by Jaques of London and continues to be one of our most popular items to customers around the globe to this day.

Whether taking board game glory on the road with one of our Travel Chess Sets, combining gaming greatness with a 2 in 1 Compendium Chess and Backgammon Set, or delving into the alluring and affluent world of our Luxury Chess Boards, Jaques are your check mate of chess for all ages.

Kate Luke
Head Of Brand
After graduating with a 2.1 Music degree, Kate pursued a career in the Music Industry, becoming a professional West End vocalist and a fully qualified Music Teacher, School Choir Leader and Songwriter. As one of Jaques of London’s Creative Editors, her specialism surrounds building confidence and expression through music & play—drawing upon her qualifications in Music Psychology & Child Development. As well as this, she is an accomplished blog writer and published journalist who enjoys promoting the importance of Montessori learning for all ages.
Ben Williamson
Creative Writer
Ben is passionate about Montessori learning for children and has written for many parenting publications to bring the magic of real play to families in the UK. After graduating in 2009, his career has enabled him to work in areas such as Child Development and Psychology. As a great believer that learning starts at home, he combines his experience with his own parenting style to help bring other families together.
Jess Casson
Marketing Assistant
Jess graduated from the University of York in 2022 with a degree in Sociology and Criminology; kickstarting her career in the creative marketing industry through content creation and social media management. One of these roles involved creating content for a children's holiday camp, which alongside a knowledge of Montessori Teaching, formed an interest in childhood development. Utilising her expertise in both these fields has allowed her to promote and share her passions with the online community while exploring her talent for writing and establishing collaborations.
Laura Henderson
Interior Designer
Interior Designer, Laura Henderson, lives in Surrey with her husband and two daughters. Taking a timeless approach to her designs and drawing on her love of colour, antiques, art, modernist furniture and photography she delivers luxurious compositions and peaceful sanctuaries within every space. Her previous experience in furniture design plays an integral role in the development of each of her projects, as does the time she spends getting to know her clients. She uses this to achieve beautiful, practical, reimagined layouts, resulting in projects that enhance a client’s lifestyle, reflecting their individual passions. To learn more see her website

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