Hanging Rooks: The Art of Chess

Image via Bookmans Entertainment Exchange

Image via Bookmans Entertainment Exchange

Owen Hugel, Writer

The Opening

Chess is a board game consisting of 64 squares and 32 pieces, the goal of which is to checkmate your opponent’s king. Checkmate, of course, is when you trap your opponent’s king in such a way that they cannot escape.

The beginning of chess can be traced back to 600 AD, but recently, chess has seen a massive spike in new players. Social media (YouTube, Twitch, etc.) has played a massive role in bringing new attention to the game. Another contributor to this spike is the website Chess.com, this website makes it easy for new players to sign up and learn the game.

So why should you play chess? There are many benefits to playing a complex game like chess; it activates multiple parts of your brain, helps with logical thinking, and it’s fun. Unlike most other games, chess provides players with a chance to be adventurous and take risks, while also sharpening their cognitive function.

The Middlegame

Chess theory refers to putting your pieces in the best position to win the game. One of the beauties of chess is the endless possibilities and freedom to move your pieces. Thousands of books have been written on the best moves, openings, gambits, etc. 

Five moves into a chess game, there are over nine million possible positions, and six moves into a game, 120,000,000+. It is not possible to comprehend how many unique positions can be discovered in one game, even amateurs will discover new moves.

Image via Chess House

Chess games are played with a timer, this ensures that matches are completed in a timely manner, while simultaneously creating a more challenging environment for players. There are three popular ways to play- Standard (90 minutes for the first 40 moves), Rapid (10 Minutes), and Blitz (5, 3, or 1-Minute Games).

Along with being played for fun, chess is a widely competitive game across the world. Tournaments can be played in person, or online. Your chess Elo, or rating, is the number used to determine your skill level. The better players will generally have higher ratings than their less-skilled counterparts, with the best players having ratings over 2000.

Image via Forbes

Currently, the best Chess player is the Norwegian-born Magnus Carlsen- he has achieved a rating of 2882 and has won several World Chess Championships in rapid, blitz, and standard.

The Endgame

Another important part of chess is notation. Notation is the written form of every move that happens in a game of chess, when playing at a tournament, players are almost always required to record their notation on a notepad or a scoresheet.  An example of chess notation that you might see in the opening of the game is e4 c5, a3 g6. 

Is it possible to solve chess? Well sure, it’s possible to figure out a strategy that can win all games. Will it ever happen? Probably not. Currently, chess engines are the most powerful forces in chess, these computers can calculate millions of moves in just a few seconds, making the best engines almost impossible to beat for even the best players. 

The Chess GOAT is a huge debate within the chess community, only 2000 players have ever achieved the title of “Grandmaster”, the highest title available to competitors, but who is the best? The two answers you will hear most are Garry Kasparov, and Magnus Carlsen, these two are almost certainly the two best chess players of all time, but it’s hard to decide who is better. For now, I think Garry Kasparov takes the edge over Magnus, but in a few years, I believe that Carlsen will surpass Kasparov in accomplishments and cement his legacy as the greatest chess player of all time.

Image via Smithsonian Magazine

Hopefully, my writing piqued your interest, and if you are looking to learn more about chess, there are many resources on YouTube and all over the internet for absolutely free. Last year, I picked up chess and I believe it’s improved my life in many ways, so consider giving it a try!