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Chess is one of the most ancient of known games of skill. Mr. Drummond, a writer on the game of draughts, asserts that draughts is the "elder sister of chess," which he properly describes as " the thinking game;" but, however that may be, there is indisputable evidence that chess was known in the most remote periods. Various theories are advanced as to its origin. One account states that the wife of Ravan, King of Ceylon, devised it in order to amuse her royal spouse with an image of war while his metropolis was closely besieged by Rama. There are at least a dozen claimants for the honour of the invention, but all the accounts of the origin of " the thinking game" are attended with more or less uncertainty.
We will now proceed to give the necessary directions for playing the game.
The game is played on a board divided into sixty-four squares, coloured alternately black and white. It is the same as that used at draughts. Eight pieces of different denominations and powers, and eight pawns, are allotted to each competitor. As a necessary distinction, each set is coloured in a.
different way, one commonly being white, the other red or black. The pieces are named as follows:
King. Queen. Bishop. Knight. Rook. Pawn.
Every player, therefore, is provided with one king, one queen, two bishops, two knights, and two rooks, besides the eight pawns. They are placed, at the beginning of each game, in the order shown at the head of this article.
In placing the board, care must be taken that a white corner square be at the right hand of each player. It should also be observed that the queen must be placed upon a square of her own colour.
The Pieces: Their Powers And Mode Of Action.
The king can move in any direction—forward, backward, sideways, or diagonally, provided always, of course, that he does not move into check. The king possesses one great prerogative—that of never being taken; but, by way of counterbalancing the advantage of this exemption, he is restrained from exposing himself to check. He can move only one square at a time, except when he cast'es, which he may do once during each game. He" may then move two squares. He cannot castle when in check, nor after he has once moved, nor with a rook that has been moved, nor if any of the squares over which he has to move be commanded by an adverse piece.
The queen can move either horizontally or diagonally. She combines the powers of the bishop and the rock. She can, at one move, pass along the whole length of the board, or, if moving diagonally, from corner to corner. Although she can move and take in the same manner as a bishop or as a rook, she must make the whole of one move in one direction, and cannot combine in one move the powers of these two pieces: in other words, she cannot move round a corner at one step.
The rook (sometimes called the castle) may pass along the entire length of the board at one move. It may move backwards, or forwards, or sideways— but always horizontally, never diagonally.
The bishop can move only in a diagonal direction, but can go any number of squares, from one to eight, or as far as the space be open. The bishop can never change the colour of his square. Thus, the white king's bishop being on a white square at the beginning, remains so throughout the game. This is a necessary consequence of his move being purely diagonal.
The knight has a power of moving which is quite peculiar, and rather diffrcult to explain. He moves two squares at once in a direction partly diagonal and partly straight. He changes the colour of his square at every move. The knight is the only piece that possesses what is styled the " vaulting motion." He is not precluded from going to a square between which and his own other pieces intervene. Thus, instead of moving your king's pawn two, as your first move, you might, if good play permitted it, move out either of your knights right over the row of pawns in front. This power is possessed by the knight alone, all the other pieces being obliged to wait until there is an opening in front of them before they can emerge.
The pawn moves in a straight line towards the adverse party. It cannot move out of its file except in capturing one of the opposing pawns or pieces, when it steps one square in a diagonal or slanting direction, and occupies the square of the captured piece. It can only be moved one square at a time, excepting in the first move, when the player has the option of advancing it two squares. The pawn is the only piece which cannot retreat, and which does not take in the direction in which it moves. For full explanation relative to "queening the pawn," and taking a pawn en passant, see instructions on those points.
The abbreviations which are invariably used in chess publications are the following: K. for king, Q. for queen, B. for bishop, Kt. for knight, R. for rook, P. for pawn, Sq. for square, and Ch. for check. The pieces on one side of the board are distinguished from those on the other in the following manner: Those on the same side as the king are named after him, as K.'s B. (king's bishop), K.'s Kt. (king's knight), K.'s R. (king's rook); while those on the same side as the queen are named Q's R. (queen's bishop), Q.'s Kt. (queen's knight), Q.'s R. (queen's rook). The pawns are distinguished in like manner. The pawn occupying the square in front of the K.'s B. is called K.'s B.'s P.; that in front of the K.'s Kt. is called K.'s Kt.'s P. ; that in front of the Q.'s R. the Q.'s R.'s P., &c
It is very necessary that the beginner should thoroughly understand the system of notation which is invariably used throughout England, for without it he could never make any use of book games.
The following diagram fully explains it. It will be seen that the moves are reckoned both for black and white.
Suppose the white queen's bishop moves one square, it is then said to stand on its second, which is the black queen's bishop's seventh. The white king's eighth is the black king's first, and vice versd all through the pieces.
Technical Terms Used 1n The Game.
The Move.— Whichever player opens the game by making the first move is said to have " the move."
Check.—When your king is attacked by any piece, he is said to be " in check," and it is your opponent's duty to give you warning of such an event by crying "Check," when he makes the move. You must then put your king out of check by moving him, by taking the checking piece, or by interposing one of your own men between the checking piece and your king, thus "covering"' check, as it is termed.
Checkmate is the term used when the king is in inextricable check, i.e., when none of the above means avail to place him beyond the range of the attacking pieces. When a checkmate is obtained, the game is at an end, that being the sole object.
Discovered Check is when the player moves a pawn or piece from before another piece, thereby opening or "discovering" check: e.g., the black rook nay be on a line with the opposing king, the only intervening piece being a black pawn. The removal of this pawn "discovers check."
Double Check is when check is discovered as above, the king being also attacked by the piece moved.
Perpetual Check is when the king of one of the players can be checked almost at every move, and when he has little else to do but move out of check. When the game has reached this stage, the weaker player may demand that checkmate shall be given in a certain number of moves, in default of which it may be declared a drawn game. (See Rule 8.)
Drawn Game.—A drawn game may arise from several causes:
1. As above.
2. Stalemate. (See " Stalemate.')
3. Equal play. "Between very good players," remarks Phillidor, " it sometimes happens that the equipoise in force and position is constantly sustained in the opening, in the intermediate stages, and in the last result; when either all the exchangeable pieces have been mutually taken, or the remaining forces arc equal—as a queen against a queen, a rook against a rook, with no advantage in position, or the pawns are mutually blocked up."
4. Absence of mating power, i.e., when neither player possesses the force requisite to obtain a checkmate. (See " Mating Power.")
5. Unskilful use of a sufficiently strong force. If one player is superior in force to his adversary, and possesses the requisite mating power, the game may still be drawn by the unskilful use of that superiority. If he cannot effect a checkmate in fifty moves it may be declared a drawn game.
Stalemate describes that state of the game when one of the players has nothing left but his king, which is so placed that, although not in check, he cannot move without going into check.
Castling is a double operation, accomplished by moving the king and one of the rooks at the same time. When the removal of the bishop and the knight on the one side, or of the bishop, knight, and queen on the other, has cleared the intervening squares, the king may castle with either of his rooks. If it should be done on the king's side of the board, the king is to be placed