A Complete Guide To Chess

When you watch two players playing chess, it can be extremely nerve racking as the time seems to stop before anyone makes a single move, and that is the intensity with which the popular game of Chess is played!

In a Nutshell: One of the most mentally invigorating games, Chess is played amongst two players and involves a chessboard with various chess pieces such as the pawn, bishop, knight, rook, king and queen.  Chess has rules where each piece has to be moved accordingly.

This game is highly intelligent and involves mathematical logical reasoning.  The FIDE or the World Chess Federation was founded in 1924 in Paris, France, and is the international regulating body for the game that organises world championships.

 India has grown in the world of chess with many iconic chess champions such as Viswanathan Anand and Koneru Humpy who feature amongst the leading chess players in the world. 

 What is Chess?

Chess is a game where two players play against each other as opponents on a chess board where one plays with white pieces and the other with black pieces.  The objective of the game is to ‘check mate’ which is to threaten the king in order to capture.  This marks the end of the game, however, the game can also end if the opponent quits realising dim chances of victory. 

The All India Chess Federation or AICF is the central administrative body of the game of chess in India.  It was founded in 1951 and is affiliated to the world body of chess namely, FIDE. 

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Overview and History

  • Chess has a history that dates back to 15 thousand years ago and it is said that this popularly played indoor game has its origins in India much before the 6th century A.D.
  • However, some historians are of the belief that chess originated in China. Nevertheless, since there is more evidence about the game owing its ancestry to India, it is said that chess eventually spread to Persia and from there to the Muslim world. Thereafter, it spread to Southern Europe and from there it evolved in the 15th century to the game of chess that we are all familiar with.
  • The 1880s is known as the “Romantic Era of Chess as it was a time when clever combinations, dynamic attacks and brash piece moves were employed primarily. It was customary to win with style in those times as the focus was more on playing the game artistically versus planning long-term or technical mastery.
  • After the Romantic Era of Chess came the Scientific, Hypermodern and New Dynamism Eras of Chess.
  • It was only during the second half of the 19th century did the modern-day chess tournament games commence with the 20th century witnessing a growth in chess theory in leaps and bounds. It was also marked by the formation of the World Chess Federation or FIDE.  The 21st century saw even greater developments as computers were used for analysis in the 1970s as the first chess computer game was launched in the mid-1990s. 
  • It is said that the Gupta Empire in India is when the precursors to chess originated and it was known as ‘aschaturanga’ in its earliest form which actually means the four segments of the military- infantry, chariotry, elephantry and cavalry. All these were represented through the various chess pieces that eventually evolved into the modern day rook, bishop, pawn and knight.
  • Historians Isaak Linder and Gerhard Josten have stated that the very early chess game can trace its beginnings to the Kushan Empire of Ancient Afghanistan dating to circa 50 BCE-200 CE.
  • In Persia, chess became a game of the nobility and it evolved into ‘shatranj’ where further rules to the game were developed. There the players started referring to the act of ‘attacking the king’ as ‘Shah Mat’ which is where we get the chess term ‘checkmate’ from.  This reached other countries and became a popular exclamation.  The Spanish referred to Chess as ‘axedrez’ which the Greeks called it ‘zatrikion’.
  • Chess spread through the world quite quickly and many different versions of the game started shaping up. In fact chess spread to the Far East through the Silk Route as Buddhist pilgrims carried to forward. However, the game was transformed here and was played on the intersections of the squares rather than inside the squares itself.
  • The Persians are credited for taking chess to North Africa and spreading the game there.
  • It is said that India was able to develop the original chessboard as it was a mathematical game and India’s prowess in this subject and the creation of ‘zero’ added to it. In fact, there are findings from the excavations in Harappa and Mohenjo Daro dating back to 2600-1500 BCE that show a board game that looks somewhat like chess.  The Chess in India was designed as ‘ashtapada’ which means an 8 x 8 board which was uncheckered. 
  • This game of ‘Chaturanga’ or chess has been mentioned in the Indian epic Mahabharata as well. Earlier chess was played with a die, however, the dice was removed eventually because of Hindu religious objections.
  • The competitive chess that we play these days was first seen in 1834 and it is during the London Chess Tournament in 1851 did players place concerns about the time taken by the players to take a decision on the moves. In fact, there was one time recording, where a player took approximately two hours and 20 minutes to make a single move at the tournament. 
  • In England in 1861, the hourglass was first used in chess tournaments in Bristol to track the time limits, which were later replaced by pendulums. Then came the modern clocks that have two parallel timers.
  • A lot of theories also came up on how to easily win a game of chess. For instance, ‘Excelsior’ by Vladimir Korolkov showed how a player could win by making six consecutive captures by a pawn.  In the 19th century, position analysis was a popular subject and many of the distinguished players were good analysts such as Jan Timman, Vasily Smyslov, Mikhail Botvinnik and Max Euwe.
  • The only issue that posed to be problem in modern-day competitive chess was when it came to adjourning the game owing to overnight or a meal break, as the player before the adjournment would be at a clear disadvantage as the other player would have ample time to think over the next move.
  • To remove this disadvantage, a lot of ideas were propounded out of which the most viable solution was ‘sealed move’, wherein the final move is not made on the board but instead is written on to a piece of paper that the referee seals inside an envelope and keeps it safely.
  • The first modern chess tournament held in London in the year 1851 saw the victory of Adolf Anderssen, a German who was categorically recognised for his enthusiastic style of attacking- which was later considered very shallow.
  • With Paul Morphy, an American chess prodigy, came deeper insights into the game of chess as he not only showed exemplary attacks but an equal prowess in strategy. Wilhelm Steinitz from Prague was another master chess player who used the technique of exploiting the opponent’s weaknesses to make stunning victories.
  • Steinitz was then overtaken by Emanuel Lasker, a young German mathematician in 1894 who became the master of chess for 27 long years, thus making the record of the longest tenure of maintaining the number one position in chess championships.
  • The end of the 19th century was marked by master tournaments and professional chess matches that were held on a yearly. The titles were awarded by the World Chess Federation or FIDE that was founded in 1924 in Paris.  The Women’s Chess Championship first took place in 1927. 
  • Russians have dominated the chess scene with Anatoly Karpov, Viktor Korchnoi and Garry Kasparov. It was in 1993, that Nigel Short and Garry Kasparov decided to break away from FIDE and create their own Professional Chess Association (PCA), and that is why there were two World Chess Championships up until 2006.
  • Eventually, in the year 2000, Kasparov lost his Classical title to Vladimir Kramnik of Russia. In 1999, Kasparov had played an online chess game versus 50 thousand participants from across 75 countries where the moves were decided upon by plurality vote and Kasparov emerged victorious.  This just goes on to prove the complexity of the game and the theory of chess that has made it one of the most intelligent games ever played.
  • It was in September 2007 that Viswanathan Anand from India set a new world record as he became the new champion. In 2008, Anand held on to his position at the top by winning the rematch against Kramnik. 
  • In India, chess finally found a firm foothold in the 1960s when Manuel Aaron was the first Indian to have bagged the International Master title. There were a lag period then, but the game finally picked up due to the phenomenal players that emerged such as Dibyendu Barua and Viswanathan Anand that catapulted India into the league of big chess player. 
  • Vishwanathan Anand has become an icon for Indian chess players who are looking out to attain international glory.
  • Talented players such as Parimarjan Negi, Koneru Humpy and Harikrishna have ascended the game further and given India wide recognition on the International chess scene.


What You Should Know About The Rules

There are various rules that govern the game of chess.  The world governing body FIDE has set the standard rules for the game with slight modifications that have been made by some national organisations.  The rules are slightly different for correspondence chess, fast chess, chess variants and online chess.

  • Chess is played by two people
  • The game involves a chessboard and sixteen pieces of 6 types for each player in black and white colours
  • Each piece has a distinct way of movement on the chessboard.
  • The goal of chess is to checkmate, which means to threaten the opponent’s king with the objective of capturing it
  • The game does not necessarily end with checkmate, as sometimes the players resign if they think they will lost
  • However, sometimes, the game also ends in a draw.
  • There is time control as well.
  • There is a different conduct for accommodating physically challenged players
  • There is also a set procedure for sorting out irregularities that can emerge in a game.
  • The chessboard is square in shape and is divided into 64 equal squares (8 by 8) that has alternating colours much like the checker board. The light colour on the board is called ‘white’ while the darker colour is called ‘black’
  • 16 white and 16 black pieces are put on the board during the beginning of the game.
  • The horizontal rows on the board are called ‘ranks’ while the vertical rows are called ‘files’.

The positioning of the pieces are as follows:

  • The placement of the rooks are on the outside corners, right and left edge.
  • The placement of the knights are immediately inside of the rooks.
  • The placement of the bishops are immediately inside of the knights.
  • The placement of the queen is on the central square of the same colour that the player has chosen i.e. white queen should be placed on the white square and black queen should be on the black square.
  • The king’s spot is the vacant one next to the queen.
  • The placement of the pawns is one square in front of all of the other pieces.
  • Theking can move exactly one square horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. There is a special move that the king can make called castling which is allowed only once per player, per game.
  • Arook is allowed to move any number of vacant squares in a horizontal or vertical direction. It also is moved when castling.
  • Abishop can move any number of vacant squares in any diagonal direction.
  • The queencan move any number of vacant squares in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal direction.
  • knight can move only to the nearest square not on the same rankfile, or diagonal.
  • Pawnshave a lot of scope of movement with complex rules.
  • A pawn moves straight forward one square, if that square is empty; it can also move two squares straight forward, if both the squares are not occupied. However, pawns cannot move backwards.
  • Pawns can capture an enemy piece that is placed on either of the two squares diagonally in front of the pawn.


The main articles require chess pieces, Staunton chess set, chess board and a chess clock.

The size of the chessboard squares should be approximately 57 mm (2 14 inches).  A chess clock can be digital or analog, although the former is preferred as per FIDE rules.

Who are the governing bodies for Chess in India?

The All India Chess Federation or AICF is the central administrative body of the game of chess in India.  It was founded in 1951 and is affiliated with the world body of chess namely, FIDE.  It is the AICF which is credited for producing prodigies of the like of Viswanathan Anand, Dibyendu Barua, Manuel Aaron and Parimarjan Negi.  The organisation also manages women’s chess in India.  The headquarters of AICF are in Chennai. 


India’s World Ranking in Chess as per FIDE August 2015

Viswanathan Anand is the world No. 2, with a rating of 2816

Koneru Humpy is the female world No. 3, with a rating of 2579

Indian Chess Players and Their World Ranking

# Player Birth year GM Title Rating World rank[n 1]
1 Viswanathan Anand 1969 1988 2816 2
2 Pendyala Harikrishna 1986 2001 2740 20
3 Sasikiran Krishnan 1981 2000 2666 85
4 Parimarjan Negi 1993 2006 2645 127
5 Abhijeet Gupta 1989 2008 2634 151
6 Surya Shekhar Ganguly 1983 2003 2619 188
7 Koneru Humpy 1987 2002 2613 208
8 B. Adhiban 1992 2010 2610 212
9 Vidit Santosh Gujrati 1994 2013 2602 242
10 Chanda Sandipan 1983 2003 2597 256

Top Indian Women Chess Players and Their International Ranking

# Player Birth year Title Rating World rank[n 2]
1 Humpy Koneru 1987 GM 2618 3
2 Dronavalli Harika 1991 GM 2484 26
3 Tania Sachdev 1986 IM 2441 42
4 Mary Ann Gomes 1989 WGM 2414 61
5 Subbaraman Vijayalakshmi 1979 IM 2399 70
6 Eesha Karavade 1987 IM 2380 78

Blind players

The Top blind Indian chess players are listed below as of October 2013.

# Player Birth year Rating State World rank[n 3]
1 Kishan Gangolli 1992 2054 Karnataka
2 Darpan Inani 1994 2022 Gujarat
3 Charudatta Jadhav 1998 Maharashtra
4 Kaustubh Khare 1982 Maharashtra
5 Oza Rajesh 1977 1861 Maharashtra
6 Shah Swapanil 1966 1860 Karnataka
7 Makhwana Ashwin K 1858 Maharashtra
8 Krishna Udupa 1972 1853 Karnataka

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On an International level:

World Junior Championships This is an extremely popular international tournament for chess players aged below 20. It is organized by the FIDE, and is conducted annually. In 2008, Abhijeet Gupta from India was the champion.

Commonwealth Chess Championship– This tournament is more like a gathering that takes place every year where chess players from Commonwealth countries get together and compete. Indian Chess player Abhijeet Gupta was the winner in the 2015 championship.

Asian Team ChampionshipsThis chess tournament is open to all chess players from Asian Chess Federations. It consists of two divisions; Open and Women’s. Indian chess players like Krishnan Sasikiran, and Parimarjan Negi have been champions in this popular Asian championship that is held every year.

 In India

Indian Chess Championship- This championship is held every year since its establishment in 1955, and is one of the most prestigious events for all Indian chess players who play on a national level.

 Famous Chess Players

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Viswanathan Anand– He is the legendary chess player from India who is famous across the globe.  He has had a career that has spanned 25 years and counting.  He is the one who propelled the Indian chess to a new level altogether.

Dibyendu Barua – He is a popular Indian Chess Player who has the recognition of being the second Grandmaster from India, following Viswanathan Anand.  However, though he showed a lot of potential in the beginning, he was unable to hold on to his title with his performance that diminished later.

  1. Koneru Humpy: She is an Indian Chess Player and is perhaps the best woman in the game from India.  She is said to have the same level of accomplishment as Vishwanathan Anand.  She is at World Number 2.
  2. Krishnan Sasikaran– He is an Indian chess player who also holds the Grand Master title and is said to be second in terms of potential to the iconic Viswanathan Anand as per the FIDE ratings.
  3. Manuel Aaron: He is said to be the pioneer of chess as a youth icon who played an instrumental role in increasing the popularity of chess and propelling Indians into the world chess scene.  He has the distinction of being the first Indian to win the title of International Master.


Chess requires a lot of mental strength, and if your child executes pefect focus and concentration in Chess, then our experts at YoGems can help harness that talent further!



Shivangi Gupta is a Content Writer Expert at YoGems. With years of experience in writing blogs, articles and guides, she writes about every sport. Also, she is good at sports and expert in shooting and won numerable awards at various events. She started receiving shooting training under her father at the age of 6. To get updated with her posts, stay tuned to the website.