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The Board And Pieces

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Chess Ajedrez Scacchi Échecs Schach Xadrez
King Rey Re Roi König Rei
Queen Dama Donna Dame Dame Rainha
Rook Torre Torre Tour Turm Torre
Bishop Alfil Alfiere Fou Läufer Bispo
Knight Caballo Cavallo Cavalier Springer Cavalo
Pawn Peón Pedone Pion Bauer Peão

The chess "battlefield" is a checkered board with 64 alternating light and dark squares. Some chessboards are very small and can fit within the palm of a hand. Others, such as the one used in ceremonial play in Marostica, Italy, are huge and use real people as the game pieces. Most boards, however, will fit nicely on an average-size dinner table.

In their book The World Of Chess, Anthony Saidy and Norman Lessing suggest that the use of 64-square boards for chess resulted more from accidental convenience than design. Chess was first played on the 64-square boards used to play the Indian version of backgammon. Eventually, this borrowing became permanent. (It wasn't until centuries later that the checkered board became standard.)

The board is placed between the opponents, with a light-color square located at each player's far right. The pieces are placed on the outside horizontal rows nearest the players.

There are 32 chess pieces in all. Each player has 16 pieces: one king, one queen, two bishops, two knights, two rooks, and eight pawns.

Each piece except the king has a comparative value given as a number. The king has no number because he has no equal on the board (aside from the opposing king), and his capture ends the game.

Individual point values are:

     Queen = 9 Points

     Rook = 5 Points

     Bishop = 3 Points

     Knight = 3 Points

     Pawn = 1 Point

Remember, chess is a war simulation, and the player who can overwhelm his or her opponent by the use of superior force generally (though not always) wins. The numerical values relate to the maneuverability of the pieces, and therefore to the force available to each player. For example, since the bishop and the knight possess the same point values, exchanging these two pieces (by capture) is considered balanced. However, if a player captures an opponent's knight (three points) but loses a rook in return (five points), they suffer a two-point loss in strength, and have "lost the exchange."

As in real war, numerical weakness doesn't always guarantee defeat, but without careful and considered maneuvering it could spell catastrophe.

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