Patience, planning, and concentration are just a few skills that chess will surely help your pupils to develop and improve. This ancient game is a great choice for everyone who enjoys putting their brains to work and can be extremely beneficial for your mental health!
What are the rules of chess?
Classic chess is a fun game that is for two players only. The goal of chess is to ‘checkmate’ your opponent’s king, in order to win the game. You will have to achieve that while defending your own king though, so you need to be careful while pressing the attack, so you don’t open yourself up to a checkmate instead.
The chess pieces come in two colours – black (dark) and white (light) – and the player with white pieces always goes first. Each player gets to move one piece per turn, except in the case of ‘castling’.
How to set up your chess game?
In order to set up the game properly, the chess board should be located between the two players. To ensure that the board is in the right position, players should have the right-most square, on the first row in front of them, be white. Some chessboards have additional letter and number markings on the side, to help with proper positioning.
The chess pieces and their roles
There are 6 different types of chess pieces, and each player has an equal number of them. Each chess piece type has its unique way of moving and some of them even have special functions. The 6 pieces are:
Pawn – There are 8 of them and they are always situated on the second row for each player. Pawns can move two squares forward, but only on their first move in the game. If you have moved them once already, though, they can move only one square forward. They can only capture one square, in diagonal direction forth.
Queen – Each side has one queen piece. The queens are located in the middle of the first row, always on the square which represents your colour. Queens are the most powerful chess piece, being able to move and capture anywhere either diagonally, vertically or horizontally.
King – After that we have the king, which is the most valuable unit in the game. Each player has one king, which is positioned in the other middle square, next to the queen. The king can only move and capture on adjacent squares.
Bishop – Each player has two Bishops, located on the first row, one placed next to the king and the other – next to the queen. Bishops can move and capture back and forth only in diagonal direction.
Knight – Each side has two Knights. They are located on the first row of each side, between the Rooks and the Bishops. Knights are the most unique chess piece, as they can jump over other pieces. They move 3 squares in an L-shaped manner, with horizontal or vertical movements only. So, if you start with 1-2 squares horizontally, the remaining 1-2 moves need to be vertical and vice versa. They can capture pieces, which are located only on the square they land on.
Rook – Each player has 2 of them. The Rooks are located at both ends of the first row right next to the knights. They can also move and capture, back and forth on the board, however, contrary to Bishops, only vertically or horizontally.
Special moves in chess
There are three special moves in traditional chess: ‘En passant’, ‘Castling’, and Pawn Promotion.
‘En passant’ – If player A chooses to move their Pawn two squares forward and lands it right next to a Pawn of player B, then immediately on their next turn player B can choose to capture it without having to move over it, but behind it instead, as if player A’s Pawn was standing diagonally from it. ‘En passant’ can only be performed by player B on the turn immediately after player A has moved their Pawn two squares forward.
‘Castling’ – Can be performed only when one of the two Rooks and the King have not yet been moved by a player and there are no chess pieces in between. The King moves two squares in the direction of the Rook you want, while the Rook will stand on the side of the King which is closer to the middle. This move cannot be performed if your King is in check or will end up in check after the move.
Pawn Promotion – If you reach the other end of the board with a pawn, you can promote (exchange) that pawn to any other higher rank chess piece of your choice, except a king.
Ideas for Chess on the Playground
You could easily add physical health to the benefits that chess already offers if you choose to add a Chess playground marking to your outdoor area. Instead of using chess pieces, you could easily make your pupils take the roles of chess pieces themselves. This will make the game much more immersive and child friendly. It will significantly improve their social skills but will also bring lots of laughter and good times!
If you want chess on the playground to be even more fun and less demanding, blitz chess is also an option! Adding time control to the game may make for more mistakes, but it will significantly boost the mental benefits for kids too. To make it even more interactive, you can let everybody have a say in where the chess pieces should go. Split the class into two teams for each colour and let them take turns making quick moves for their own team!