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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Chess and Checkers: The Way to Mastership
by Edward Lasker

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Title: Chess and Checkers: The Way to Mastership

Author: Edward Lasker

Release Date: January, 2004 [EBook #4913]
[Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule]
[This file was first posted on March 25, 2002]
[This file was last updated on April 7, 2002]

Edition: 10

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


Key for the Diagrams

  R  =  Rook
  Kt =  Knight
  B  =  Bishop
  Q  =  Queen
  K  =  King
  P  =  Pawn

Black pieces have a # symbol to the left of them, while
white pieces have a ^ symbol to the left of them. For example,
#B is the Black bishop, while ^B is the white bishop. #Kt is
the black knight, while ^Kt is the white knight. This will
let the reader instantly tell by sight which pieces in the
ASCII chess diagrams are black and which are white.





The game of Chess is played by two armies who oppose each other
on a square board or battlefield of sixty-four alternate white
and black squares. Each army has sixteen men; one King, one
Queen, two Rooks (or Castles), two Bishops, two Knights and eight
Pawns. The Generals of the two armies are the two players
themselves. The men of one side are of light color and are called
White, those of the other side are of dark color and are called

The object of the game is to capture the opposing King. When this
is done the battle is ended, the side losing whose King is
captured. To understand what is meant by the capture of the King
it is first necessary to become acquainted with the laws
according to which the different men move on the board.

To start with, the board must be placed so that the players have
a white square at their right. Then the men take the positions
shown in Diagram 1.

The Rooks occupy the corner squares; next to them stand the
Knights; then the Bishops and in the center the King and the

     8 | #R | #Kt| #B | #Q | #K | #B | #K | #R |
     7 | #P | #P | #P | #P | #P | #P | #P | #P |
     6 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
     5 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
     4 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
     3 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
     2 | ^P | ^P | ^P | ^P | ^P | ^P | ^P | ^P |
     1 | ^R | ^Kt| ^B | ^Q | ^K | ^B | ^Kt| ^R |
         a    b    c    d    e    f    g    h

                DIAGRAM 1

The white Queen must be on the white square and the black Queen
on the black square. These eight, men are commonly known as
"pieces" in distinction from the Pawns. The latter occupy the
line of squares immediately in front of the Pieces.

The lines of squares now occupied by the men and the other four
vacant horizontal lines between them are called RANKS. The
vertical lines of squares running perpendicularly to the ranks
are called FILES. The oblique lines of squares, that is, lines
which connect squares of the same color, are called DIAGONALS.

To describe the moves of the men on the board in a simple way it
is necessary to indicate every square and every man by a short
symbol. For this purpose different systems have been suggested at
different times, but only two of them have been generally
adopted. The older one, called the "descriptive notation," still
predominates in the English, French and Spanish speaking
countries, but as leading English and American writers have
lately used the newer "algebraic notation" which is much more
simple, the latter will be employed in this book. Later the
former method will be explained for the sake of completeness.

In the algebraic notation the files are lettered from a to h,
starting from the file on White's left. The ranks are numbered
from 1 to 8, starting from the rank on which White's pieces stand
at the beginning of the game. Each square is now easily indicated
by naming the file and rank at which it forms the intersection.
The Rook in Diagram 2, for instance, stands on e4, the Bishop on
C4, the Pawns on h4 and g7, the Knight on f7, the Queen on d6 and
the Kings on c1 and g3.

     8 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
     7 |    |    |    |    |    | ^Kt| #P |    |
     6 |    |    |    | #Q |    |    |    |    |
     5 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
     4 |    |    | #B |    | ^R |    |    | ^P |
     3 |    |    |    |    |    |    | #K |    |
     2 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
     1 |    |    | ^K |    |    |    |    |    |
         a    b    c    d    e    f    g    h

                DIAGRAM 2

As symbols for the men the first letters of their names are used.
Thus K stands for King, Q for Queen, R for Rook, B for Bishop, Kt
or N for Knight and P for Pawn.


Each of the six kinds of men moves in a different way. To
remember the six varieties of moves naturally requires a little
more effort than to remember just the one way of moving as in
most other board games. But it takes only very little practice to
become familiar with the various moves of the Chessmen and it is
soon revealed to the learner that the variety of the moves
enables a surprising depth and wealth of combinations which give
keener and greater pleasure to this game than to any other.

The Rook

The Rook may move forward, backward or sideways in a straight
line along a path not obstructed by a man of the same color. In
other words, he may move to any square of the rank or file on
which he stands unless another man of his own color is in the
way. If there is a hostile man in the way he may capture him by
occupying his square and removing him from the board.

In Diagram 2, for instance, the Rook could move to e5, e6, e7,
e8, e3, e2, e1, f4, g4, d4 and c4. In making the latter move he
would capture the black Bishop. The Rook may not go to h4 because
a man of his own color stands there nor may he go to b4 or e4
because he is not allowed to jump over the Bishop. He could, of
course, move to either of these squares on his next move after
capturing the Bishop.

The Bishop

The Bishop moves along an oblique line, that is, he may move to
any square of the diagonals on which he stands unless--as in
the case of the Rook--his way is obstructed by a man of his own
color. If there is a hostile man in the way he may capture him.
In Diagram 2, therefore, the Bishop may move to a2, b3, d5, e6
or, by capturing the Knight, to f7. He may not move, however, to
g8, until his next move after capturing the Knight. In the other
diagonal all squares, that is, fi, e2, d3, b5 and a6, are
accessible to him.

As the Bishop is confined to squares of the same color as the one
on which he stood at the beginning of the game he has access only
to thirty-two squares of the board, and from this it is evident
that the Rook to whom all squares of the board are accessible is
a stronger man.

The Queen

The Queen has the power of both Rook and Bishop having the choice
of moving to any square of the rank, file or diagonal on which
she stands as long as her path is clear. In Diagram 2 the squares
to which the Queen may move are, therefore, e3, b4, c5, e7, f8,
f1, b5, C7, b8, d1, d2, d3, d4, ds, d7, d8, a6, b6, c6, e6, f6,
g6 and h6. Like the Rook and Bishop she has the power of
capturing a hostile man by occupying his square.

The Queen is by far the most powerful of the pieces. Later it
will be seen that ordinarily her strength is about equal to the
strength of two Rooks.

The King

The King, like the Queen, moves and captures in any direction,
but he is much less powerful because he may move only one square
at a time. Nevertheless, he is the most important man, for, as
said at the beginning, the object of each side is the capture of
the opposing King.

To save the King from untimely death there is a rule that the
King may not move into any square which is in the direct range of
any man of his enemy. Thus, in Diagram 2 the black King may move
to f2, g2, h2, f3 and h3, but he may not move to f4 or g4 nor may
he capture the Pawn on h4, for on any of these squares he could
be captured by the white Rook.

The white King in Diagram 2 has only three squares to which he
may go, namely, b1, b2 and c2, as the squares d1 and d2, though
being in his range, are commanded by the black Queen.

The Knight

The Knight moves neither in rank nor file nor diagonal and,
therefore, usually offers a little more difficulty to the
beginner than the other pieces. The Knight's move is perhaps best
described as a leap to the next but one square of different
color.[Footnote: It may be helpful to consider the Knight's move
when completed as having described a letter "L" composed of four
squares, three in one direction and one at right angles to them.]
For instance, in Diagram 2 the Knight may move to d8, d6, e5, g5,
h6 and h8. In moving to d6 he would capture the Queen.

His move would be in no way obstructed if some of his own or his
adversary's men were occupying the squares next to the one on
which he stands. This enables the Knight as the only one of the
pieces to move at the beginning of the game before any Pawn move
has been made.

The strength of the Knight is ordinarily regarded as about equal
to that of the Bishop. The latter's range is larger but the
Knight has the advantage of being able to reach any square of the
board regardless of color.

The Pawn

It remains to describe the move of the Pawn, the only man who
captures in a different way from that in which he moves. The Pawn
moves FORWARD ONLY in the file in which he stands, and only one
square at a time with the exception of his first move on which he
may advance two squares. Thus, in Diagram 2, the white Pawn may
move only to h5 while the black Pawn may move to either g6 or g5.

The Pawn may capture only diagonally, only forward and only one
square at a time. The privilege of taking a double step on the
first move does not extend to the capture. Thus in Diagram 2, the
white Pawn could capture only a black man on g5, the black Pawn
only a man on either f6 or h6, but not on e5. If a man stood on
h5, the Pawn h4 would be blocked. Likewise would the Pawn on g7
be blocked by a man on g6.

There is one peculiar rule to be remembered in connection with
the move of the Pawn. If a Pawn uses his privilege of making a
double step to avoid capture by a hostile Pawn he can be put back
one square and captured just the same. For instance, in Diagram
2, if the white Pawn stood on h5 and Black moved his Pawn to g5,
White could put Black's Pawn back to g6 and capture him with his
Pawn. This way of capturing is called taking "en passant" (French
for "in passing") and can be done only by a Pawn, never by a

Lastly must be mentioned the power of the Pawn to become
transformed into a piece. This is done automatically whenever a
Pawn reaches the extreme opposite side of the board. That is, the
player must remove the Pawn from the board and put any piece on
his place except a King. Thus it can happen that a player may
play with three or more Rooks, Bishops, Knights or Queens. As the
Queen is the strongest Piece the Pawns are practically always
exchanged for Queens and for this reason the process of the
exchange is called "queening."

Although a Pawn has comparatively little value as measured by his
mobility--his range of movement--he is really a very valuable man
because of the possibility of his eventually queening.


Only once in a game is a player allowed to move more than one
piece at a time. This one move is called "castling" and is made
by the King together with one of the Rooks. In castling the King
moves two squares toward the Rook and the Rook is placed on the
square over which the King has passed. In the position of Diagram
3 both players may castle either side.

White, in "castling King's side" would place his King on g1 and
the King's Rook on f1; in "castling Queen's side" the King would
leap to c1 while the Queen's Rook would take his stand on d1.
Likewise Black would castle by either playing the King to g8 and
the Rook from h8 to f8, or the King to c8 and the Rook to a8 to

     8 | #R |    |    |    | #K |    |    | #R |
     7 | #P | #P | #P |    | #Q | #P | #P | #P |
     6 |    |    | #Kt| #P |    | #Kt|    |    |
     5 |    |    | #B |    | #P |    | ^B |    |
     4 |    |    | ^B |    | ^P |    | #B |    |
     3 |    |    | ^Kt| ^P |    | ^Kt|    |    |
     2 | ^P | ^P | ^P | ^Q |    | ^P | ^P | ^P |
     1 | ^R |    |    |    | ^K |    |    | ^R |
         a    b    c    d    e    f    g    h

                 DIAGRAM 3.

     8 | #R | #Kt|    |    | #K |    |    | #R |
     7 | #P | #P |    |    |    | #P | #P | #P |
     6 |    |    | #P |    |    |    |    |    |
     5 |    |    |    | #P | ^P |    |    |    |
     4 |    | ^B |    |    |    | ^P |    |    |
     3 |    |    |    |    | #Kt| ^Kt|    |    |
     2 | ^P | ^P | ^P |    |    |    | ^P | ^P |
     1 | ^R |    |    |    | ^K |    |    | ^R |
         a    b    c    d    e    f    g    h

                DIAGRAM 4.

Castling is permitted only when neither King nor Rook concerned
has previously moved, when none of the squares between the King
and the Rook are obstructed and when none of the three squares
involved in the King's move are controlled by an adverse man.
Thus if in check (see page 17) the player may not castle. In
Diagram 4, neither White nor Black may castle.


Attack and Defense

A man is said to ATTACK another man if he moves so that on his
next move he could capture the other man. Thus, in Diagram 5,
White could attack Black's Bishop by moving his Rook to d1 or to

A man is said to DEFEND or to PROTECT another man if he moves so
that in case the other man is captured by a hostile man he could
recapture the latter. Thus, in Diagram 5, Black could defend his
Bishop by moving his Knight to either e4 or e8 in case White
attacks with the Rook from d1. Should White attack from e6, then
Black would not defend the Bishop with the Knight, for on e4 as
well as on e8 the Knight is unprotected and could be captured by
the Rook without White losing anything in exchange. Black has a
much more simple way to defend the attack of the Rook from e6,
that is, by capturing the Rook with the Pawn f7. For this reason
White would not have moved the Rook to e6.

Check and Checkmate

If a man makes a move which attacks the opposing King the King is
said to be in "check." The player whose King is checked then has
to make a move which gets the King out of check

     8 |    |    |    |    |    |    | #K |    |
     7 |    |    |    |    |    | #P | #P |    |
     6 |    |    |    | #B |    | #Kt|    | #P |
     5 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
     4 | ^P |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
     3 |    |    | ^P |    |    |    |    | ^P |
     2 |    |    |    |    |    |    | ^P |    |
     1 |    |    |    |    | ^R |    | ^K |    |
         a    b    c    d    e    f    g    h

                DIAGRAM 5.

or he forfeits the game. This is the only case in which a player
is not at liberty to make any move he likes.

Unless the attacking man can be captured there are only two ways
of getting out of check. One of these is to interpose a man
between the King and the attacking piece, and the other to move
the King out of the line of attack. In Diagram 5 Black could give
check by moving the Bishop to c5. In answer to this White has
four moves at his disposal. He may either move the King to f1 or
h1 or h2, or he may interpose his Rook on e3. The latter would be
very unwise as Black would simply take the Rook with his Bishop,
again checking White's King. The situation would then not have
changed at all except that White would have lost his Rook.
White's King could not move to f2, for this would leave him still
attacked by the Bishop.

Instead of checking on c5 Black could have attacked White's King
on h2. But in this case the King would have simply captured the

If it were White's move he could give check with the Rook on e8.
But Black could take the Rook with the Knight. He would naturally
do this instead of either moving out with the King to h7 or
interposing the Bishop on f8.

If a King is in Check and there is no move with which to get him
out of it he is said to be "checkmate" and the game is ended.
Diagram 6 shows an example in which either player can give
checkmate on the move.

If it were White's move he would take the Pawn on g6 with his
Queen. Now Black's King is in check as White's Queen threatens to
take him on the next move. The King cannot move to either g7 or
h7, for these two squares are also commanded by White's Queen.

     8 |    |    |    | ^R |    | #Kt| #K | #R |
     7 | #P | #B | #P |    |    | #P |    |    |
     6 |    | #P | #Q | #B |    |    | #P |    |
     5 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
     4 |    |    |    |    |    | ^Kt| ^Kt|    |
     3 |    | ^B |    | ^Q |    |    |    | ^P |
     2 | ^P | ^P | ^P |    |    |    | ^P | ^K |
     1 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
         a    b    c    d    e    f    g    h

                 DIAGRAM 6.

Moreover, the latter cannot be taken by the Pawn on f7 as the
black King would be in check by the Bishop on b3. The Pawn is
"pinned" by the Bishop. Black's Knight cannot take White's Queen
either as he is pinned by White's Rook. Finally, there is no
piece available which may be interposed between White's Queen and
Black's King; in other words: Black is checkmate, his game is

If it were Black's move he would take the Pawn g2 with the Queen.
Now White's King is in check as Black's Queen threatens to take
him on the next move. He may not take the Queen as he would then
be captured by the Bishop b7. Neither may the Knight f4 take the
Queen as he is pinned by the Bishop d6. Moreover, the King may
not escape to g1, h1 or g3, these three squares lying in the
rangeof Black's Queen; and so there is no move on the board with
which to get White's King out of check: He is checkmate, White
loses the game.


If a player, without being in check, cannot make any move which
would not get his King into check, he is said to be STALEMATE. In
this case the game is considered a draw. Diagram 7 shows an

White on the move, although his forces are much inferior, can
draw the game by checking with the Rook on f3. Black cannot very
well make a move with his King in reply, as then White's Rook
would take the Queen. Black, therefore, must capture the Rook
with the Queen and with this move he stalemates White, as the
latter has no move left which would not bring his King into

     8 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
     7 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
     6 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
     5 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
     4 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
     3 |    |    |    | #Q |    |    |    | #K |
     2 |    |    |    |    |    | ^R |    |    |
     1 |    |    |    |    | #R | ^Kt| ^K |    |
         a    b    c    d    e    f    g    h

                DIAGRAM 7.

If it were Black's move he would easily win. In fact he has two
different ways of checkmating White in three moves. One of them
would be to take the Knight with the Rook, attacking the King and
forcing White's Rook to recapture as the King has no square to go
to; then to give check with the Queen on g3 forcing White's King
to h1 and enabling the mate with the Queen on g2 or h2.

The other way would be to start with the check on g3. As White's
Knight is pinned he cannot capture the Queen.

     8 |    |    |    |    |    |    | #K |    |
     7 |    |    |    |    |    |    | #P |    |
     6 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
     5 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
     4 |    |    |    |    | ^Q |    |    |    |
     3 |    | #Q |    |    |    |    | ^P |    |
     2 | #P |    |    |    |    |    |    | ^P |
     1 |    |    |    |    |    |    |    | ^K |
         a    b    c    d    e    f    g    h

                DIAGRAM 8

Interposing the Rook on g2 would not help either as the Queen
would simply take him at the same time checkmating the King.
White's only move is, therefore, to play the King into the
corner, and Black then mates by first taking the Knight and then
moving the Queen to g2 or h2.

Perpetual Check

If a player is able to check the opposing King continually and he
indicates his intention to do so the game is considered a draw.
In the following position, for instance, White on the move can
draw the game by giving a perpetual check on e8 and h5. Black
cannot help himself as he has to go back and forth with the King
on h7 and g8. Without the possibility of this perpetual check
White would be lost, for he cannot prevent the Pawn a2 from
queening and with two Queens against one Black would easily win
as will be seen later from the discussion of elementary endings.


To exchange means to capture a hostile man when it allows a man
of the same value to be captured by the opponent.

It is rather confusing that the term "exchange" is also used for
the difference in value between a Rook and a Bishop or a Knight.
To win the exchange, in this sense, means to capture a Rook and
to lose for it only a Bishop or a Knight.

Double Pawn

Two Pawns of the same player standing in one file are called a
double Pawn. Three Pawns in one file are called a triple Pawn.

Passed Pawn

A Pawn whose advance to the eighth rank is not blocked by an
opposing Pawn in the same file and who does not have to pass one
on an adjoining file is called a passed Pawn.

Isolated Pawn

A Pawn is called isolated if there are no Pawns of the same
player on the adjoining files.

Backward Pawn

A Pawn is called backward if he cannot advance far enough to be
protected by fellow Pawns in an adjoining file.


A Pawn is said to fork two pieces if he attacks them

Minor Piece

The Bishops and the Knights are called minor Pieces as compared
with the Rooks and the Queen.


To sacrifice means to give up a man without obtaining for him a
man of the opponent or to give up a man for one of lesser value.

Discovered Check and Double Check

A discovered Check is an attack on the King caused by a man
moving out of the line of a piece which he was obstructing. If
the man discovering the Check also attacks the King the Check is
called a double Check.


In addition to the symbols used for squares and men, as explained
on page 5, the following are used to indicate the moves:

-- means "moves to"

X means "captures"

o-o means "Castles King's side"

o-o-o means "Castles Queen's side"

+ means "check"

+/- means "checkmate"

Thus: R-f5 means the Rook moves to square f5. If either Rook
could move to f5 then the original square of the Rook to be moved
must also be shown.

Kte3xd5 means the Knight standing on e3 captures the man standing
on d5.

o-o-o means the player castles Queen's side and in so doing
gives check.

[Footnote: In the descriptive notation alluded to on page 5 every
square of the board has two different names, each player counting
the ranks from his own side. The files are named after the pieces
which stand on them at the beginning of the game. Thus, c4 would
be QB4 (Queen's Bishop's fourth) or QB5 depending on whether a
black or a white move is described. If a square is referred to
without relation to a particular move it is necessary to add from
which side of the board the square is counted. It is customary to
say in cases of this kind "White's Queen's fourth" or "Black's
Queen's fourth," etc.

Instead of naming the square on which a capture takes place, the
man captured is named, so that an additional description is
necessary in case more than one man of the same kind can be

As a matter of comparison the first ten moves of a game are
described above in both notations.]

! signifies a good move.

? signifies a bad move.

          (1) P-d4          P-d5
          (2) P-c4          P-e6
          (3) Kt-c3         P-c5
          (4) Kt-f3         Kt-c6
          (5) Pxd5          Pxd5
          (6) B-f4          Kt-f6
          (7) P-e3          B-e6
          (8) B-d3          B-e7
          (9) o-o           o-o
         (10) R-c1          Kt-h5

          (1) P-Q4          P-Q4
          (2) P-QB4         P-K3
          (3) Kt-QB3        P-QB4
          (4) Kt-B3         Kt-QB3
          (5) PxQP          KPxP
          (6) B-KB4         Kt-B3
          (7) P-K3          B-K3
          (8) B-Q3          B-K7
          (9) Castles       Castles
         (10) R-B           Kt-KR4


If a player having the move touches one of his men he is
compelled to move him; if he touches a hostile man he must
capture him. This law is void, however, if the man so touched
cannot be legally moved or captured.

A man may be moved to any square accessible to him as long as the
hand of the player has not left him. If an illegal move has been
made it must be retracted and if possible another move must be
made with the same man. If a player has castled illegally, King
and Rook must be moved back and the King must make another move,
if there is a legal one.

If a player touches a man with the sole object of adjusting his
position, he must indicate his intention by saying "j'adoube"
(French for: I adjust) beforehand. In castling, the King must be
moved first as otherwise a doubt might arise whether castling or
a Rook's move only was intended.

A game is void if a mistake has been made in setting up board or
men or if in the course of the game the position or number of men
have been altered in a manner not in accordance with the rules of
play and the position cannot be reconstructed from the point
where the error was made.

If a player resigns his game before he is actually mated he
acknowledges that in the end mate is unavoidable, and the game is
counted as a loss to him.

If neither player has sufficient material left to enforce a mate
(compare following chapter) the game is considered a draw. A draw
may also be claimed by either player if the moves are repeated so
that the same position occurs three times with the same player on
the move, or if fifty moves have been made without the capture of
a man or the move of a Pawn.