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Rules, etc.
World Champions
Other Players

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Chess

Pieces

In the following table, the third column indicates the number of pieces of each type that each player has at the start of a game.

Black rook White rook 2 Starts in the corners (squares a and h on the rank nearest the player); can move any number of squares – forward, back, left or right Click to show or hide the answer
Black knight White knight 2 Starts on the squares immediately inside the rooks (squares b and g on the rank nearest the player); its move is 'L–shaped' – two squares in one direction, and one in a perpendicular direction – and can't be blocked by another piece; the only piece that a player can move on his or her first move, apart from the pawns Click to show or hide the answer
Black bishop White bishop 2 Starts on the squares immediately inside the knights (squares c and f on the rank nearest the player); can move any number of squares, but only diagonally, and is therefore confined to squares of one colour (each player has one on black squares and one on white) Click to show or hide the answer
Black queen White queen 1 Can move any number of squares, in any direction (forward, back, left, right or diagonally); considered the most valuable piece; starts in the centre of the rank nearest the player, on the square of its own colour (square d) Click to show or hide the answer
Black king White king 1 Can move in any direction, but only one square; the object of the game is to get your opponent's piece of this type into a position where it can be captured, and where there is no legal move available that leaves it in a position where it cannot be captured; starts in the centre of the first rank, on the square that is not its own colour (square e) Click to show or hide the answer
Black pawn White pawn 8 Represent 'foot–soldiers'; occupy the second rank, at the start of a game; can only move forward – one or two squares if not moved previously, otherwise one – except when capturing an opponent's piece, which it does diagonally Click to show or hide the answer

The following table shows White's pieces as they are positioned at the start of a game.

White pawn White pawn White pawn White pawn White pawn White pawn White pawn White pawn
White rook White knight White bishop White queen White king White bishop White knight White rook

The yellow squares are those normally described as white, and the blue squares are the ones normally described as black. Note that White has a black square to the left of the nearest file; the same is true for Black.

Black's pieces are positioned the same way, except that the King and Queen will be the other way round. This means that the two kings are are opposite each other, on the same file, and so are the two queens. Each player has the Queen to the left of the King.

Rules, etc.

Squares on the board Click to show or hide the answer
Pieces on the board at the start of a game – also the number of unoccupied squares Click to show or hide the answer
Number of pieces white can move at the start of a game Click to show or hide the answer
Number of possible opening moves (for either player: 2 for each piece – see above) (Note: excludes resigning!) Click to show or hide the answer
Minimum number of moves to mate (each player – black wins) Click to show or hide the answer
Name for the game when black mates in the above number of moves Click to show or hide the answer
Only move in which a player may move two pieces: the King moves to the square next to the Rook, which then moves to the square on the other side of the King. Indicated according to the FIDE Handbook as 0–0 (King's side) or 0–0–0 (Queen's side) – i.e. using zeroes; but in Portable Game Notation (PGN), O–O or O–O–O – i.e. using the letter O Click to show or hide the answer
French term for a move when a pawn captures an opposing pawn that has just moved forward two squares and is now immediately alongside it Click to show or hide the answer
Rows running across a line drawn between the players ('horizontal' rows, in a diagram) Click to show or hide the answer
Rows running from one player to the other ('vertical' rows in a diagram) Click to show or hide the answer
System of identifying squares as a–h (horizontal) and 1–8 Click to show or hide the answer
Opening that sacrifices a piece for later advantage Click to show or hide the answer
Mediterranean island that gives its toponym to a common opening Click to show or hide the answer
Term introduced in Persia in the 8th century: from a Farsi term meaning 'the King is helpless' – often rendered into English as 'the King is dead' Click to show or hide the answer
French term, internationally recognised as allowing a player to touch a piece without being obliged to move it Click to show or hide the answer

Governing body of world chess Click to show or hide the answer

World Champions (selected)

1886–92 The first player to be recognised as world champion (1886–92): dominated the game from 1866, when some consider him to have become world champion Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
1894–1921 Longest reign as champion (27 years); won six undisputed world championship matches – more than any other player Germany Click to show or hide the answer
1921–7 Unbeaten 1916–24, considered the greatest ever player – often described as a "human chess machine". Surprisingly lost the title in 1927 to Alexander Alekhine (Russian-born, exiled in France) Cuba Click to show or hide the answer
1969–72 Beat reigning champion Tigran Petrosian in 1969, having unsuccessfully challenged him in 1966; lost to Bobby Fischer in Reykjavik Soviet (Russia) Click to show or hide the answer
1972–5 Beat Spassky in a highly–publicised match in Reykjavik, in 1972; refused to defend his title in 1975 in protest at the rules imposed by FIDE USA Click to show or hide the answer
1975–85 Won the right to challenge Fischer in 1975, but was given the title when Fischer objected to the match rules. Undisputed champion until 1985; also FIDE champion 1993–9 after FIDE stripped Kasparov of the title Soviet (Russia) Click to show or hide the answer
1985–93 Challenged Karpov in 1984, but narrowly lost a very protracted match; ranked world No. 1 for 225 out of 228 months, from 1986 until his retirement in 2005; considered by many to have been the greatest player of all time Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer

In 1993, Kasparov and his British challenger Nigel Short fell out with FIDE over the rules for Short's challenge to Kasparov, and formed a rival organisation: the Professional Chess Association (PCA).

PCA champions, 1993-2006

1993–2000 First world champion to be beaten by a computer (1997 – see below) Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
2000–2006 Won a surprise victory over Kasparov in 2000. Beat FIDE champion Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) in the 2006 reunification match to become undisputed champion Russia Click to show or hide the answer

FIDE champions, 1993–2006

1993–9 Beat Jan Timman in the FIDE championship match following the split (after FIDE stripped Kasparov of its title). Resigned in 1999 in protest over being made to compete in the World Championships, as opposed to meeting the successful challenger in the final Russia Click to show or hide the answer
1999–2000 Won the 1999 FIDE World Championships, following Karpov's resignation, despite being rated only No. 44 in the world at the time Russia Click to show or hide the answer
2000–2   India Click to show or hide the answer
2002–4 The youngest ever world champion (18 years 64 days) Ukraine Click to show or hide the answer
2004–5   Uzbekistan Click to show or hide the answer
2005–6   Bulgaria Click to show or hide the answer

Undisputed champions, from 2006

2006–7Controversially beat Topalov in the 2006 reunification match Russia Click to show or hide the answer
2007–13 Won the 2007 tournament to take the undisputed title. Later defeated both Kramnik and Topalov in challenge matches, to retain the title India Click to show or hide the answer
From 2013 Beat Anand in the 2013 and 2014 World Championship matches; successfully defended his title in 2016 against Sergey Karjakin (Russia, formerly Ukraine); the youngest ever undisputed world champion (22 years 357 days) – but see Ponomariov Norway Click to show or hide the answer

Other Players

Widely considered to be the strongest player never to have been World Champion; beaten by Karpov in the final challenge game for the right to challenge Fischer (1975); twice unsuccessfully challenged Karpov for the title Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
Born in 1965 in Leigh, Lancashire; ranked World No. 3 1988–9; first British player to challenge for the world chess championship (1993, in a match that was not endorsed by FIDE), but was crushed 5–0 by Kasparov England Click to show or hide the answer
Regarded as the world's strongest player from 1843 to 1851. Promoted, and gave his name to, the standard chess set which is still required for use in competitions. Organised the first international chess tournament in 1851, after which Adolf Anderssen (Germany) was recognised as the world's strongest player England Click to show or hide the answer
Known as the "Best of the West": unsuccessfully challenged Karpov for the FIDE title in 1993 Netherlands Click to show or hide the answer

IBM computer that beat world champion Garry Kasparov in 1997 Click to show or hide the answer

© Haydn Thompson 2017