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Chess is a board game for two players, called White and Black, each controlling an army of chess pieces in their color, with the objective to checkmate the opponent's king. It is sometimes called international chess or Western chess to distinguish it from related games, such as xiangqi (Chinese chess) and shogi (Japanese chess). The recorded history of chess goes back at least to the emergence of a similar game, chaturanga, in seventh-century India. The rules of chess as we know them today emerged in Europe at the end of the 15th century, with standardization and universal acceptance by the end of the 19th century.Today, chess is one of the world's most popular games, played by millions of people worldwide.


Chess is an abstract strategy game that involves no hidden information and no use of dice or cards. It is played on a chessboard with 64 squares arranged in an eight-by-eight grid. At the start, each player controls sixteen pieces: one king, one queen, two rooks, two bishops, two knights, and eight pawns. White moves first, followed by Black. Checkmating the opponent's king involves putting the king under immediate attack (in "check") whereby there is no way for it to escape. There are also several ways a game can end in a draw.

Organized chess arose in the 19th century. Chess competition today is governed internationally by FIDE (the International Chess Federation). The first universally recognized World Chess Champion, Wilhelm Steinitz, claimed his title in 1886; Magnus Carlsen is the current World Champion. A huge body of chess theory has developed since the game's inception. Aspects of art are found in chess composition, and chess in its turn influenced Western culture and art, and has connections with other fields such as mathematics, computer science, and psychology.

One of the goals of early computer scientists was to create a chess-playing machine. In 1997, Deep Blue became the first computer to beat the reigning World Champion in a match when it defeated Garry Kasparov. Today's chess engines are significantly stronger than the best human players and have deeply influenced the development of chess theory.

The rules of chess are published by FIDE (International Chess Federation, Fédération Internationale des Échecs), chess's international governing body, in its Handbook.[1] Rules published by national governing bodies, or by unaffiliated chess organizations, commercial publishers, etc., may differ in some details. FIDE's rules were most recently revised in 2023.

The game is played on a square board of eight rows (called ranks) and eight columns (called files). By convention, the 64 squares alternate in color and are referred to as light and dark squares; common colors for chessboards are white and brown, or white and dark green.

The object of the game is to checkmate the opponent; this occurs when the opponent's king is in check, and there is no legal way to get it out of check. It is never legal for a player to make a move that puts or leaves the player's own king in check. In casual games, it is common to announce "check" when putting the opponent's king in check, but this is not required by the rules of chess and is not usually done in tournaments.[2]

In competition, chess games are played with a time control. If a player's time runs out before the game is completed, the game is automatically lost (provided the opponent has enough pieces left to deliver checkmate).[1] The duration of a game ranges from long (or "classical") games, which can take up to seven hours (even longer if adjournments are permitted), to bullet chess (under 3 minutes per player for the entire game). Intermediate between these are rapid chess games, lasting between one and two hours per game, a popular time control in amateur weekend tournaments.

Time is controlled using a chess clock that has two displays, one for each player's remaining time. Analog chess clocks have been largely replaced by digital clocks, which allow for time controls with increments.

The pieces are identified by their initials. In English, these are K (king), Q (queen), R (rook), B (bishop), and N (knight; N is used to avoid confusion with king). For example, Qg5 means "queen moves to the g-file, 5th rank" (that is, to the square g5). Different initials may be used for other languages. In chess literature, figurine algebraic notation (FAN) is frequently used to aid understanding independent of language.

Variants of algebraic notation include long form algebraic, in which both the departure and destination square are indicated; abbreviated algebraic, in which capture signs, check signs, and ranks of pawn captures may be omitted; and Figurine Algebraic Notation, used in chess publications for universal readability regardless of language.

Portable Game Notation (PGN) is a text-based file format for recording chess games, based on short form English algebraic notation with a small amount of markup. PGN files (suffix .pgn) can be processed by most chess software, as well as being easily readable by humans.

Until about 1980, the majority of English language chess publications used descriptive notation, in which files are identified by the initial letter of the piece that occupies the first rank at the beginning of the game. In descriptive notation, the common opening move 1.e4 is rendered as "1.P-K4" ("pawn to king four"). Another system is ICCF numeric notation, recognized by the International Correspondence Chess Federation though its use is in decline.

Contemporary chess is an organized sport with structured international and national leagues, tournaments, and congresses. Thousands of chess tournaments, matches, and festivals are held around the world every year catering to players of all levels.

Chess's international governing body is usually known by its French acronym FIDE (pronounced FEE-day) (French: Fédération internationale des échecs), or International Chess Federation. FIDE's membership consists of the national chess organizations of over 180 countries; there are also several associate members, including various supra-national organizations, the International Braille Chess Association (IBCA), International Committee of Chess for the Deaf (ICCD), and the International Physically Disabled Chess Association (IPCA).[9] FIDE is recognized as a sports governing body by the International Olympic Committee,[10] but chess has never been part of the Olympic Games.

In order to rank players, FIDE, ICCF, and most national chess organizations use the Elo rating system developed by Arpad Elo. An average club player has a rating of about 1500; the highest FIDE rating of all time, 2882, was achieved by Magnus Carlsen on the March 2014 FIDE rating list.[13]

FIDE also awards titles for arbiters and trainers.[16][17] International titles are also awarded to composers and solvers of chess problems and to correspondence chess players (by the International Correspondence Chess Federation). National chess organizations may also award titles.

Chess has an extensive literature. In 1913, the chess historian H.J.R. Murray estimated the total number of books, magazines, and chess columns in newspapers to be about 5,000.[18] B.H. Wood estimated the number, as of 1949, to be about 20,000.[19] David Hooper and Kenneth Whyld write that, "Since then there has been a steady increase year by year of the number of new chess publications. No one knows how many have been printed."[19] Significant public chess libraries include the John G. White Chess and Checkers Collection at Cleveland Public Library, with over 32,000 chess books and over 6,000 bound volumes of chess periodicals;[20] and the Chess & Draughts collection at the National Library of the Netherlands, with about 30,000 books.[21]

Chess theory usually divides the game of chess into three phases with different sets of strategies: the opening, typically the first 10 to 20 moves, when players move their pieces to useful positions for the coming battle; the middlegame; and last the endgame, when most of the pieces are gone, kings typically take a more active part in the struggle, and pawn promotion is often decisive.

A chess opening is the group of initial moves of a game (the "opening moves"). Recognized sequences of opening moves are referred to as openings and have been given names such as the Ruy Lopez or Sicilian Defense. They are catalogued in reference works such as the Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings. There are dozens of different openings, varying widely in character from quiet positional play (for example, the Réti Opening) to very aggressive (the Latvian Gambit). In some opening lines, the exact sequence considered best for both sides has been worked out to more than 30 moves.[23] Professional players spend years studying openings and continue doing so throughout their careers, as opening theory continues to evolve.

Chess strategy is concerned with the evaluation of chess positions and with setting up goals and long-term plans for future play. During the evaluation, players must take into account numerous factors such as the value of the pieces on the board, control of the center and centralization, the pawn structure, king safety, and the control of key squares or groups of squares (for example, diagonals, open files, and dark or light squares).

Another important factor in the evaluation of chess positions is pawn structure (sometimes known as the pawn skeleton): the configuration of pawns on the chessboard.[37] Since pawns are the least mobile of the pieces, pawn structure is relatively static and largely determines the strategic nature of the position. Weaknesses in pawn structure include isolated, doubled, or backward pawns and holes; once created, they are often permanent. Care must therefore be taken to avoid these weaknesses unless they are compensated by another valuable asset (for example, by the possibility of developing an attack).[38]

The earliest texts referring to the origins of chess date from the beginning of the 7th century. Three are written in Pahlavi (Middle Persian)[42] and one, the Harshacharita, is in Sanskrit.[43] One of these texts, the Chatrang-namak, represents one of the earliest written accounts of chess. The narrator Bozorgmehr explains that Chatrang, the Pahlavi word for chess, was introduced to Persia by 'Dewasarm, a great ruler of India' during the reign of Khosrow I.[44] 041b061a72

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