27 June

The game of chess

The game of kings, the complex game of chess began in India thousands of years ago. From India, it spread west to Europe and the Americas. For many centuries, it was known as ‘the game of kings’ because it was played by the nobility and because it was considered good training for those involved in warfare. Today, chess players of all ages compete against each other by e-mail, mail and on the internet. Most nations have chess tournaments for young people and adults.

Chess is a battle of minds between two kingdoms both striving for success and victory. It is not only for peasants or kingdom protectors but also the royals who play a crucial role in the struggle. The chess ‘material’ is made up of The King, Queen, Bishops, Knights, Rooks and the pawns who all stand at the force on either side of the game in their assigned positions before the set off. The chess board is made up of columns, called files, marked with letters from a to h and rows, called ranks, marked with numbers from 1 to 8. This means that the board has sixty four squares each represented by a unique letter-number combination.

The white chess pieces are arranged in position from a1 to h2 while the black pieces occupy squares from a8 to h7. The main character of the game-the king- moves horizontally, vertically or diagonally but only one step. The queen is the most powerful piece because she can move in any straight line, horizontally, vertically or diagonally-any number of steps- for as long as her path is not blocked. The Knight is the only piece that can hop over other pieces in an ‘L’ shaped path that consists of three squares. It can move two steps horizontally and then one step vertically or two steps vertically and then one step horizontally. The Rook- also known as a Castle- moves any number of steps in a straight line horizontally or vertically as long as its path is not blocked. The pawn is the least powerful piece on the board, it may only move one square forward if its path is not blocked while it can only capture any piece from the diagonal side. If the pawn is able to reach the last square in a file, it grows in rank to any piece except a King. The Bishop moves diagonally and remains in the same colour of squares from the beginning to the end.

During the course of the game, any piece except the opponent’s King may attempt to capture the King. This is referred to as a check. The King may be saved from a check in the following ways; moving him from the checked position, blocking the check with another piece on the board or capturing the checking piece. If the King is trapped in a position while not in check with no moves that would not expose him to a check, with no other pieces on the board or with only pieces whose paths are completely blocked, this is referred to as a stalemate. Or in other words, it is a draw.

Whenever the game of chess is played, the main target is a checkmate. This is a situation where the King is trapped in a checked position and has nowhere to move without being captured or being ‘eaten’. This is counted as a loss of the game. So, maximum protection of the King is needed. Find all the possible ways to avoid being checkmated and prepare to checkmate your opponent. Capturing your opponent’s pieces, while fun and exciting, may not be the best way to play the game. It is always best to play to checkmate your opponent since it cuts the battle short and also decides who takes the win. There is a provision for conceding by putting down the king as a sign of defeat. You will never know how interesting the game of chess is unless you play it. Not only will you have fun playing it, but it will also make you a critical thinker ready to solve specific challenges and make good plans in life.

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