The Board And Pieces
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
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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