Playing Chess


Official Rules

The rules of chess have mostly the same since sometime between 1450 & 1500 when the Mad Queen replaced the King's councilor. But there have been many minor changes over the years. For example, at one time a stalemate was a loss for the side that couldn't move. At another time One player would select the color and his opponent would decide who moved first. Yes, there were games where Black moved first! Later with the additions of chess clocks, it was necessary to add new rules.

The latest significant rules change was to only permit castling if the King was touched first. You can no longer do two handed castling or touch the Rook first even if done in a smooth and continuous manner.

Most rules involve formal tournament play. You can choose your own rules for touch move & touch take when playing on a park bench. But in a tournament everyone must play by the same rules.

There are numerous chess organizations which have there own definitions and rules covering tournaments played under there auspices. The most important of these to Peoria players are FIDE, USCF, ICA, IESA, & IHSA.

FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs or International Federation of Chess). is the ruling body of the international sport. It makes the rules and runs the tournaments leading to the "official" world titles. FIDE also sanctions other tournaments run by other organizations and tracks player's international ratings.

USCF (United States Chess Federation) is the US affiliate of FIDE and so names the "official" US title holders and champions. To play in an officially sanctioned tournament a player must be a member of the USCF and the tournament must be run by a USCF affiliate. The USCF also tracks the player's US rating. Both rating systems run a modified version of the system created by Wisconsin's Arpad Elo. The Elo system became the official rating system of the USCF in 1960 and was later utilized by FIDE in 1970. In general, USCF ratings are slightly higher than FIDE ratings by 50-100 points.

The ICA (Illinois Chess Association) is the Illinois state affiliate of the USCF. It recognizes Illinois state champions. Our own Patrick Cohen is currently the ICA Preasident.

The GPCF is an affiliate of both the USCF and the ICA.

IESA (Illinois Elementary School Association) is an association of middle schools and junior high schools and promotes chess within the school system. IESA uses relaxed variants of the USCF rules which have been modified for school play.

IHSA (Illinois High School Association) is an association of high schools and junior high schools and promotes chess within the school system. IHSA uses relaxed variants of the USCF rules which have been modified for high school play. Requirements for high school play are a little more strict than for middle school.


Basics

How to Play Chess - Learn how the pieces move and some basic ideas about how to play the game. This presentation by Chess4Life is an ideal introduction to the game for the young beginning player.

Chess4Life also has some interesting ideas about chess clubs in the lower grades.


The Good, the Bad & the Ugly of Chess Training - Susan Polgar one of the leading experts in chess training (and one of the historically best chess players) shares her insights on how to train to become a strong chess player efficiently, without wasting time & energy on things that don't work or may even harm your potential.

Chess Advice for Parents and Young Players - Susan Polgar has participated at every level of chess up to and including becoming a World Champion. She is also one of America's most forceful proponents of youth chess. Here she shares her thoughts on tournament etiquette for both players and their audience.


Chess Openings - Every game starts from the same position, so you can plan some moves before the game even starts.

Learn how to play the opening. Common Opening Themes include:

  • Control of the Center
  • Development of your pieces to their Best Squares.
  • Including ALL your pieces in your Game
  • King Safety

Learn to get the initiative and a head start on your opponent.


Chess Tactics are the basis of chess play in the middlegame. A tactic is a short sequence of moves that creates a tangible gain either in material or checkmate. Common Tactical themes include:

  • Double Attacks and Forks
  • Pins and Skewers
  • Discovered Attacks and Checkmates
  • Removing the Defenders

You need to do more than just tactical puzzles, you need to be good enough that you see them in your game. You can't play what you don't see.


Chess Strategy is a long term plan or idea which improves your position in the absence of playable tactics. Common strategical themes include:

  • Mobility
  • Space
  • Time
  • Pawn Structure
  • Every Move should have a Purpose

Every piece has strengths and weaknesses. Learn to place your pieces on their best squares to create winning tactics.


Chess Endgames If there isn't a checkmate in the middle of the game you can still win in the endgame when there are few pieces on the board and the strategy turns to Queening a pawn. Common endgame ideas include:

  • Activating the King once it is Safe
  • Creating a Passed Pawn
  • Opposition, Triangulation & Square of the Pawn
  • Theory of Two Weaknesses
  • Simply to a Known Winning Endgame

Learn how push your pawns through while blocking your opponent.


Chess Puzzles Chess puzzles let you practice on the board all the situations mentioned above which you will find in a game. A good puzzle will challenge you to detect the patterns you look for in a game.