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How To Play Chess

There are many theories, strategies, and ideas about playing chess; but a couple of simple truths can be found that work.

  1. Don't put your foot in it! In other words, look around the board before you move to make sure you're not about to give away one of your pieces. If you're about to exchange pieces, make sure it's to your advantage.

  2. Check your opponent's foot! Has your opponent made a mistake? Can you take advantage of a careless move? Remember General Patton? A slightly modified version of one of his famous quotes is, "No war was ever won by someone dying for his country. Wars are won by making the enemy die for his country!" You don't need to be as brutal to keep an eye open for bad moves that you can turn to your advantage.
In advanced play the game is roughly divided into three phases: the opening, middle game, and end game.

The opening is where the initial maneuvers are made and pieces are moved from their starting positions into "battle array." The middle game is a bit more fluid and difficult to describe. Here players attempt to maneuver their forces into strong positions, capture important pieces, and continue to protect the king. Not so difficult until you realize your opponent's trying to do the same thing! The end game usually begins after most of the pieces (on both sides) have been captured. Mistakes at this stage are not long tolerated and will almost certainly lead to defeat.

Countless books have been written describing strategies for each stage. One of the fundamental differences between a grandmaster and everyone else is the ability to memorize these strategies and play them at the appropriate moment.

The beginning player, however, doesn't need to be concerned about all this. Remember, the object of chess is to capture the opponent's king, and if a player moves their queen to a square that now threatens their opponent's king, that king is "in check." Their opponent must move the king, block the threat, or capture the threatening queen. If none of that is possible, checkmate is declared and the game is over.

One more thing . . .White goes first.

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