How well do you know chess moves and terms?

By: John Miller
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Chess is one of the oldest and most popular board games in the history of human civilization. Each player gets 16 pieces in a bid to find gaming glory … or ignominy. How much do you know about chess terms and moves?

How many squares can the king move each turn?

The king is one of the most important (but vulnerable) pieces on the board. It can move just one square per turn.

Which of the following pieces can move an unlimited number of squares?

The queen is ultra-powerful. This piece can move an unlimited number of squares so long as no other pieces are in the way.

How do you win a game of chess?

The goal of chess is to checkmate your opponent's king. It means that the king has no legal moves that don't place it in jeopardy.

What's a chess opening?

A chess opening is the series of moves used to begin a game of chess. There are hundreds of well-known opening variations that have been established in the long history of chess.

What term means that the king is under attack?

If a king is under attack, it's in check. That means it's just one move from being trapped in a checkmate.

Which piece can be "promoted" when it reaches the end of the board?

When pawns reach the opposite side of the board (the eighth rank) it means they are immediately promoted -- upgraded to the player's choice of bishop, rook or queen. Due to the piece's power, most players promote pawns to queens.

If a player makes an illegal move, that player must immediately do what?

Whether the illegal move is an accident or intentional, the offending player must immediately retract the move. If the illegal move isn't discovered until later in the game, corrective action varies depending on the situation.

Which chess piece can execute a move called "castling"?

Only rooks can perform castling. In castling, the king moves two squares towards a rook, which is then placed on the other side of the king (adjacent to the king). It's a nifty way to quickly alter the game's momentum.

Which of the following pieces is the most valuable?

The almighty queen is the most dangerous and powerful piece on the board. The queen can zoom around the board in any direction, snapping up undefended pieces with wild abandon.

On their FIRST move, how many spaces can a pawn move directly forward?

On their very first move, pawns can move two spaces. But they must move directly forward, not diagonally.

Knights can only move in a very specific pattern. Their move looks like capital letter _____.

Knights move in a pattern similar to a capital letter "L". They move two spaces in one direction and then one space to the left or right.

Which piece can jump over other pieces on the board?

Knights have the uncommon ability to jump over other pieces. This trait makes them exceptionally useful in close-quarters situations that might trap other pieces.

What happens if a player is not in check … but has no legal move at his or her disposal?

If a player isn't in check but can't legally move his or her remaining pieces, there is an inevitable stalemate. That means the game ends in a draw.

True or false, is the pawn always the first white piece to move in a game of chess?

Pawns are on the front lines, but they aren't always first to move. Some players opt to use knights to jump over their pawns during an opening move.

Which direction can the bishop move?

A bishop can move an unlimited number of squares in a diagonal direction. It can't jump over other pieces, though, meaning its movement is restricted by any other pieces that might be in the way.

If you give up one piece in hopes of gaining a strategic advantage, you're committing a ______.

Sometimes it makes sense to sacrifice one piece for a potential positional or tactical advantage. Advanced players know that sacrifices are critical against seasoned opponents.

The final stages of a chess game are called ______.

When only a few pieces are left on the chess board, the players are approaching the endgame. Some players are at their best as the board opens up -- others panic and fall into vulnerable positions that open them up to checkmates.

How is a "smothered mate" performed?

In a smothered mate, a player accidentally traps his own king, which is surrounded by his own pieces. Then, the opponent swoops in and uses a knight to execute a smothered mate.

Which color gets to move first in a game of chess?

In a game of chess, the white side always goes first. Then players alternate turns.

In a serious game of chess, if you touch one of your pieces, you must do what?

It's called the "touch-move" rule. In serious games, if you touch one of your pieces, you absolutely must move it if you have a legal move at your disposal. This rule typically doesn't apply during casual games.

It is most common to checkmate an opponent's king using which piece?

It's most common to end a game in checkmate using a queen. The queen's great power makes it the most valuable piece on the board.

What is the least valuable piece in chess?

Pawns are the most numerous -- and least valuable -- pieces in chess. They are typically the weakest pieces, too. But strong players know that they must leverage their pawns carefully to win the game.

If a player resigns from a game, what happens?

Players can resign from a game at any time, and this most often happens when they realize that a loss is inevitable. But if you resign, you lose.

Which piece can execute the "en passant" move?

If a pawn moves forward two spots and lands next to an opponent's pawn, the opponent can then move her pawn diagonally for an en passant ("in passing") move, which results in a capture.

Of the following pieces, which is the most valuable?

After queens, rooks are the second most valuable pieces on the board. Like queens, rooks are considered "major" pieces that can dramatically shift the balance of power in a game.

True or false, is it legal to execute a move that leaves your king in check?

It isn't legal to perform a move that leaves your king in check. If you can't conduct a maneuver that somehow gets your king out of check, you are checkmated and you lose the game.

What is it called when two pawns square off, face to face?

A "pawn ram" occurs when two opposing pawns square off directly in front of one another. They'll continue to block each other unless they are able to attack diagonally … or if they are captured by another piece.

True or false, it is possible for a player to endlessly draw out a game even though he or she can't win?

It's true, a player can continually plod around the board to avoid a checkmate. But it's considered incredibly poor form to do so.

The so-called "Fool's Mate" is the fastest possible checkmate. How many moves does it require?

The Fool's Mate is the fastest possible checkmate, and it requires just two moves. Only stupid or inexperienced players fall prey to the Fool's Checkmate.

Which piece has the most complicated rules guiding its movement?

Sometimes, knights seem pretty complicated, but it's the lowly pawn that has the most complex maneuvers. Depending on the situation and board position, pawns can execute a variety of different moves.

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