Chess Cheat Sheet: Everything You Need in One Place

This article will be a great aid for those who only begin their journey in chess. It has all of the basic information you can learn and grow from.
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Last updatedLast updated: August 29, 2023
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If you are a beginner at chess, the first thing you’d need to get the hang of is how to set up the chessboard. After that, figuring out and studying how all the pieces move should be next on your list. As such, before you start talking tactics or potential strategies or any complex opening, you should know how the pieces are arranged and how they move.  This chess cheat sheet simplifies all that for you.

Once you have that covered, all the potential special moves that pieces can make, whether by themselves or in combination with other pieces, should be learned as well. This should be studied along with the basic terms that are utilized in the game.

If you have an understanding of the terms, the pieces, and their actions on the board, the next step is studying and understanding basic attacks. Keep reading as we run you through some of this to begin your chess journey.

Checkout a review the best chess sets if your looking for ideas for buying a chess set.

How you set up a chessboard?

Chess Cheat Sheet: Everything You Need in One Place

To set up a chessboard, you’d first need a chessboard. You could use that of a friend or relative to learn the game, but it’s easier if you had yours to practice with. A simple travel chess set would suffice as it is simple to pack up and is cheaper.

However, most of the best chess sets preferred by players are detailed and sometimes themed. These may come with extra pieces in the event of a pawn promotion and are generally more attractive to look at than the travel sets.

As stated earlier, though, any one of these chess sets would be suitable for learning and playing. When setting up the chessboards:

  1. The pieces of both colors should occupy the last two rows of both sides of the board
  2. The rooks should be placed in the far corners
  3. The knights should be placed next to the rooks horizontally
  4. Next to the knights, the bishop is placed
  5. After the bishop is the king and queen, the queen should be placed on the square that matches her color. And the king should occupy the empty square next to the queen
  6. In front of the already arranged pieces, all eight pawns should be arranged horizontally

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What are ranks and files?

The ranks on a board are the horizontal rows on the board. They are usually labeled from bottom to top with numbers 1 to 8.

On the other hand, files are the vertical rows on the chessboard. They are labeled from left to right with the letters a-h.

A combination of rank-and-file labeling could be used to identify and locate squares on a board. This can be done by indicating the letter of the file, followed by the rank number. For example, d4 refers to the square occupying the intersection of file d and the 3rd rank.

Moves pieces can make

The moves pieces can make are different for every piece. This variety in movement adds to the dynamism of chess. A failure to understand this movement could lead to illegal movements that are punishable by the rules of the game.

Generally speaking, the pieces with the widest range of movements are considered to be the strongest.


Chess Cheat Sheet: Everything You Need in One Place

Pawns can only move forward but capture enemy chessmen by moving one square diagonally. On their first move, though, they have the option of moving two squares forward.


Chess Cheat Sheet: Everything You Need in One Place

Bishops can move diagonally provided they don’t cross over pieces during their move. They capture enemy pieces along their diagonal path.


Chess Cheat Sheet: Everything You Need in One Place

Knights can move in an L shape around the board. A typical L-shape consists of a two-one or one-two combination of squares.


Chess Cheat Sheet: Everything You Need in One Place

Rooks can move horizontally and vertically from their position on the board, provided they don’t cross over any pieces in the process. They capture enemy pieces along their path.


Chess Cheat Sheet: Everything You Need in One Place

Queens can move diagonally, horizontally, and vertically. As such, they are the strongest pieces on the board.


Chess Cheat Sheet: Everything You Need in One Place

Kings can only move a single square in all directions at any one time.

Understanding basic attacks

An attack is a move that provides the opportunity for capture in chess. Two of the most basic attacks to take note of are the check and checkmate. There are, however, many other nameless attacks that capture enemy pieces, but these two are more relevant because they involve a threat to the enemy king, which could potentially end the game.


A check is an attack on the enemy king that could be escaped. This attack cannot be ignored, and a player would have to make a move that would dispel the attack.


Checkmate is an attack on the king that cannot be avoided. In such a situation, the king cannot make a move to escape, and no moves can be made to offer protection. This can be shortened to mate and indicates that the game is over.


This is a kind of draw in chess where the king of a player isn’t in check but still possesses no legal moves that can be made.

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Final thoughts

This is the first step towards being a player, and the next is learning special moves and chess terms as they apply to the game. Beyond those exists the complexity of openings, tactics, strategies, endgames, and a lot of thinking about all of these.

Not to panic, though. In this game, practice, study, and thought make skill, and you could build on the contents of this chess cheat sheet with practice on your board or with friends. If you are having difficulties choosing a good chess board, this Classic Game Collection Metal Chess Set is a durable choice to consider.

However, if you are also a lover of draughts, this Foldable Chess and Checkers Game Board that comes with pieces for both games is most ideal for you. Don’t sleep on this knowledge – keep learning, thinking, and playing.

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