Chess Board: Q&A

by Milica Knezevic on January 12, 2022

Chess Board Q1: Why Two Colors?

  • The black and white was first used because the opposing pieces were also black and white and each player used the opposite color of their own pieces to make them more visible.
  • Probably because of the way chessboards were originally built, with two different colors of material so the players could see where the squares were.
  • However, having two colors does provide important benefits. For one, it’s easy to see which squares the bishops can go to- each bishop starts on one color, and can only ever occupy or attach that same color. The color is also used to identify the bishops, each player has a light-squared bishop and a dark-squared one.
  • Also, not that it’s crucial, but knights always move from one color to the other color.
  • Having a 64-square board with only outlines around the squares would make those distinctions more difficult.
Chess Board Brown

Chess Board Q2: What's With The Numbers And Letters?

  • Algebraic notation (or AN) is the standard method for recording and describing the moves in a game of chess.
  • It is based on a system of coordinates to uniquely identify each square on the chessboard.
  • In English-speaking countries, the parallel method of descriptive notation was generally used in chess publications until about 1980.
  • A few players still use descriptive notation, but it is no longer recognized by FIDE, the international chess governing body.
  • The term "algebraic notation" may be considered a misnomer as the system is unrelated to algebra. Other terms such as "standard notation" and "coordinate notation" have been proposed, but the traditional term persists.

Algebraic Notation

Chess Board Q3: How To Setup My Pieces?

Chess Set Up

  • Pawns

White and Black: On your side, put them in the second row, each takes one square.

  • Rooks:

White and Black: Imagine a real castle and put your rooks in the corners of the first row.

  • Knights:

White and Black: Put your Knights next to your Rooks, on both sides.

  • Bishops:

White and Black: Place your Bishops next to your Knights, they stand in between the royals and the knights.

  • Queen:

White Queen: Goes on the white square or in case you have a different color board, she always goes on the lighter color square.

Black Queen: Goes on the darker square, in our case she goes on the black square.

  • King:

White and Black: If you followed the steps so far, you should have one vacant square in the first row, the last square is occupied by the King.

Chess Board Q4: Who Starts And Why?

  • The player with the white pieces always moves first.
  • Due to the slight advantage of being white in chess, players generally decide who will get to be white by chance or luck(flipping a coin or having one player guess the color of the hidden pawn).
  • Some believe this even to be a GREAT advantage, for example, Russian grandmaster Evgeny Sveshnikov stated back in 1994 that a player should win with white and be content to draw with black.
  • Johann Löwenthal, a British master, put forth one of the first proposals of record to give white the obligatory first move.
  • Wilheim Steinitz, the first world champion, repeated this idea in his 1889 book, “The Modern Chess Instructor,” where he wrote on page XII: “The players draw by lot for move and choice of color. In all international and public Chess matches and tournaments, however, it is the rule for the first player to have the white men.”
White Chess Piece

Some Interesting Recent News:

In 2019, Magnus Carlsen and Anish Giri – who as of July were the number 1 and number 10 players in the world, respectively – promoted a #MoveforEquality campaign as a way of acknowledging social inequalities. In their game, black moved first and the line was, “We broke a rule in chess today, to change minds tomorrow.” It was billed as an anti-racist statement, but some took it as a suggestion to change the rules of chess to black having the first move.

Chess Board Q5: What If Black Moved First?

  • If black moved first, it would take some getting used to for players who are accustomed to white going first.
  • This would be especially true for the opening moves, since the white and black chess armies are positioned slightly differently. For instance, as white, the queen is on the left-hand side. As black, the queen is on the right-hand side.

  • Socially speaking, an ideal solution would be to give both colors a 50% chance to move first. That is the way it was in shatranj, a precursor to modern-day chess.
  • Of course, this would be “equal opportunity” but result in a totally different approach to playing chess.
Chess Board Q6: How Do I Play Well On It?
  • When you set up you board, look carefully at the starting position.
  • The first thing that happens in a chess game is the opening move and play, you can check out some tips on our site for the most common and useful opening moves.
  • Next, always be aware of beginner mistakes and try your best to avoid them.
  • There are some essential rules that need to be followed in order to create a favorable position of your pieces on the board.
  • In order to make sure you have all the tools at you disposable, use the blessing of the digital age and research. Click on the underlined terms in this paragraph for a quick study session before you get your checkmates started!

Chess is a game that has definitely changed peoples minds in many ways. Over time, chess players were proven to have excellent problem solving skills, high attention spams etc. However, there is so much more to know and learn about chess, and we hope your thirst for knowledge will always be present so we can enjoy the search together!

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