Learn chess with Pete

Lesson 1 – kill the king!


In this article, I am going to assume that you know the basic moves of chess. If you don’t, then click on this link


and then select Laws of Chess from the list on the left hand side.

You should also know that the object of the game is to ‘checkmate’ the opponent’s king. The word checkmate comes from the ancient Persian shah mat which means ‘The King is dead’. This is done by giving ‘check’ (which means that one of your pieces is attacking the opponent’s king) in such a way that your opponent is unable to avoid it.

There are three ways of avoiding check. These are:

1. Capture the piece

2. Block the check by interposing one of your own pieces between the attacker and your king.

3. Move your king to a square where he is not in check.

So if you checkmate your opponent, it means that he can’t do any of the above to avoid your check.

As you learn more about chess, you will hear words such as ‘development’, ‘positional play’, ‘tempo’ and many more. If this series continues, some of these terms will be explained if they are appropriate, but for now all you need to know is that they are subtle ways of approaching a checkmate.

As someone new to chess, you will probably not win many games to begin with. You will win even fewer if you don’t know how to checkmate your opponent, because that is the only real way to win a game. Sometimes chess players resign (give up) before they are checkmated, but only when they know that checkmate is inevitable. The better the player, the earlier they resign. I have been playing chess for over 50 years, but if I play through a game played by masters I often don’t understand why they have resigned. When you are starting out, it is better never to resign, however hopeless the position, because by playing on you will see how to win a game by observing your opponent’s moves. If you get to the stage of playing in League chess, or entering tournaments, it is also possible to win or lose ‘on time’, but there is no need to worry about that for now.

Here are two games which show very quick ways to checkmate your opponent (click on the name to open the game in a separate window).

Fool's Mate

Scholar's Mate