Extra Rules to Be Aware of

The first post outlines the really basic rules, but to become a fully equipped chess player, there are some other things you need to know…

This first extra rule is perhaps one that some beginners don`t know even, but I would say that in about 200 games, it will occur just once – this does vary depending on what openings you play. Nevertheless, to play without knowing this rule – which occasionally a GM (Grandmaster) forgets and is duefully laughed at by other masters – would be foolish.

En Passant

This phrase originates from French I believe, and translates literally as ‘in passing’. The general idea is that the price of bypassing an enemy, and not confronting them, is that you are stabbed in the back. I could hardly imagine William the Conquerer leading his army round Harold Godwinson`s by the cover of night. He would have found that further inland there would be more armies, and being surrounded like that is not much fun.

The rule: When one player has a pawn on the fifth rank (that is to say advanced 3 squares forward of the starting position) and the opposing player moves a pawn on an adjacent file (vertical column) the maximum advancement, then the fifth rank pawn may capture the enemy pawn as if it had moved just 1 square.

It is easier to understand with diagrams:

However, this move – en passant – may only be played immediately after your opponent`s move. If you are white in the diagram above, and when you reach position 2, you play a different move, then on your next move you want to take en passant, that is not allowed.


Now after learning an obscure rule, it is time to learn a very practical one that you can use in almost all games. The king is the one piece that you are trying to defend, and if it is in the middle of the board, then it will be subject to attacks from all angles, so we want to keep him safe. One easy way of doing this, is to tuck him away in the corner. Now, first of all we have to have moved our pieces off the back rank, so that there is just empty space between the king and the rook, and then you have the option of performing this move.

The king always moves 2 squares towards the rook, and the rook jumps over the king. When you make this move in a game, you should use only 1 hand, and move the king first, then the rook, otherwise your opponent will say “aha, you touched the rook! Now you have to move that piece…” This is unfortunately a very valid statement.

There is also another way of castling – Castling queen-side. This is often a riskier option, and can lead to more aggressive games, because defence does not come into the equation, and if you castle one way, and your opponent castles the other, then it is a real race to see who`s attack comes first. Who delivers the first blow. Anyway…

There are however certain positions where it is not okay to castle, even though you have moved all the chess pieces out of the way. Firstly, you can`t castle when you are in check. You also can`t castle into check, or through check.

can`t castle 2 A
(white to move) You can`t castle into check.



can`t castle 3 A
(white to move) White can`t castle here, because it would be through check.


can`t castle 1
(white to move) White can`t castle here. You can`t castle when you are in check.

The only other time that you can`​t castle, is if the rook has already moved in the game. You can`t move your rook up the board, then a few moves later move it back, and try to castle – it is just not allowed.

Pawn Promotion

When a pawn has ran all the way down the board, and can go no further without dropping off the board, the pawn in question becomes a piece of higher value – almost always a queen, although you can promote a pawn to any piece you want to as long as you are not currently in check.

How the game can end

At the end of every game, there are 3 possible outcomes: You either win, lose or draw.

To win, you can either checkmate your opponent, or they might simply resign (give up), because they don`t want to waste time and energy fighting a losing battle. Below is a position where black can checkmate white next move, and win the game:

If in the position 1 above, if it was not black to move, but white has the move, then black might choose to resign, because the position is hopeless after any sensible move, for example: bishop takes knight.

There are many ways to draw a game of chess, so  I think that topic deserves its own blog post. I hope you have found my explanations easy to follow (if you have any questions, please ask them in the comments).


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