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Introduction to Chess

Just like the board game Snakes and Ladder, Chess is also originated in India a long time ago. There is a story for how Chess was invented.

Hundreds  of years ago there was a King  in India who loved to play board games. But he had gotten bored of all the games that were present at the time and wanted a new game that was much more intellectually challenging.

He commissioned a poor mathematician who lived in his kingdom to come up with a new game. After months of struggling with all kinds of ideas the mathematician came up with the game of Chaturanga.

The game had two armies each lead by two Kings who commanded the army to defeat the other by capturing the enemy King. It was played on a simple 8×8 square board.

The King loved this game so much that he offered to give the poor mathematician anything he wished for.

I would like one grain of rice for the first square of the board, two grains for the second, four grains for the third and so on doubled for each of the 64 squares of the game board
said the mathematician.
Is that all?
asked the King,
Why don't you ask for gold or silver coins instead of rice grains.
The rice should be sufficient for me
replied the mathematician.

The King ordered his staff to lay down the grains of rice and soon learned that all the wealth in his kingdom would not be enough to buy the amount of rice needed on the 64th square. In fact the whole kingdoms supply of rice was exhausted before the 30th square was reached.

You have provided me with such a great game and yet I cannot fulfill your simple wish. You are indeed a genius.
said the King and offered to make the mathematician his top most advisor instead.

The exact  number of grains that that is required to fulfill the needs of mathematician is

9,223,372,036,854,775,808 on the 64th square and
18,446,744,073,709,551,615 total for the whole board

That’s about 18 billion billion. So if a bag of rice contained a billion grains, you would need 18 billion such bags. But actually a real bag of rice weighing 100 pounds has less than 3 million grains.

This story about the King is most likely not true. But it can be a good story for kids to start with. As far as I have observed, kids love stories. If you can narrate with all the extra fantasies they are going to fall in love with the game.

Thanks for the story by


I usually start teaching chess with this story. You are not done yet. Before you go on teaching like
"This is Bishop, it moves like this"
"This is a Knight, it moves like so"
You need to tell them the history behind the pieces. Always start with why of things.

Let's start with the old naming that was used by Indians.

1. Chaturanga (Four Troops) - Chess:

The Battle-Field is made into 64 squares for the convinience of having a battle on a board! There were no black and white squares before. All were light squares. It was adopted later, again for convenience. The battle is performed with 4 kinds of troops.





These were the troops used because it was a long time ago. If Chess were invented today there would have been a troop of tanks, jets and what not.

Chessmen had different names before. But why don't we call the same names today?! Chess was invented in India, introduced to Persia and then to Europe and in the process the names and moves got changed a little bit.

1. Soldier - Pawn:

Soldiers are the first line of defense. That is why they stand in the front row. If you have seen any movie with a war scene, you'll definitely notice this. Padati was the real name. It has changed into Pawn.

2. Elephant - Rook:

Elephants were actually used to pull a chariot called 'Rath' which resulted in the name Rook. Elephant walks/runs straight. That is the reason for its + shaped movement.

3. Camel - Bishop:

Camel represented the troop before but then it was changed to Bishop (advisor to the King). If you have seen a camel run then you will realize why Bishop moves diagonally.

4. Horse - Knight:

A horse is ridden by a Knight (sardar)! That is why the name. Horse can jump - the reason why it does the same on chess board.

5. Raja - King:

Luckily King remained the same for centuries till now. Even the move remained the same!

6. Mantri (Minister) - Queen:

Have you seen a Queen fighting in the war (except for the movie 300 part 2). Indians had common sense and included Minister in the battle field. But it got changed over time when it was introduced to Persia may be because of the reason that the Queen always stands beside the King.

This is the bref history of chessmen. Get the complete picture here.

Now we have a standard for chess called FIDE which has standardized many confusions people had before. It is the standard followed today worldwide (like always Americans have their own standard USCF).


Let’s dive into the specifics

The Board



Wrong way of setting up a board :

A white square should always be at the bottom-right corner of the board. The picture below shows a wrongly set chessboard.


Remember: Rightey-Whitey


Pieces and points

Piece Name Symbol Points
Pawn - 1
Knight N 3
Bishop B 3
Rook R 5
Queen Q 9
King K

Modern Notation:


Picture credits : Wikipedia


Position after playing

1. e4 e5

2. Bc4 Nc6

3. Nf3 d6

4. 0-0



The board marked X on g6



Name the squares marked X on the board.



Files, Ranks and Diagonals


Files: Shown in the diagram with Green lines

‘A’ file

‘D’ file

‘H’ file

Ranks: Shown in diagram with Yellow lines

1st rank

5th rank

8th rank

Diagonals: Shown in diagram with Red lines

c1 to a3

a1 to h8

d1 to h5



Make sure that kids are not bored of too much Chess. Yawning is a clear sign that you are teaching too much of it. A better way to keep them hooked is to ask some things about them. May be their school, friends, hobbies, story books, games, movies anything in general.

One day it started to rain all of a sudden and the ground started to smell really good. Since I was into science stuff, I knew what it was and I asked them
"Why does the Earth smell when it rains for the first time?"
Make sure you know the answer!


Print out this chess score-sheet to write down all the games




Sharath is a full-time chess coach, part-time web designer and a hobby blogger. He posts his chess articles on KidsChessWorld. Contact him for online chess coaching