Chess For Kids

Chess is an excellent game for kids. It teaches them strategic thinking, logic and it's fun, too!
We have the rules of Chess, here, written so that children can understand them. Read online or download a printable version.
And if you are desperate to start playing chess straight away and don't have a chess board or chess men, we have some printable versions of those,
too - one small and one large, complete with 3D chess pieces to cut out and assemble. Scroll to the bottom of the page for the printables.

Chess For Kids

Printable chess set
Here is the black army from our printable chess set lined up and ready for battle!

The Game Of Chess

"After a subtle contest of strategy, the White Army suddenly unleashed a devastating attack; emerging victorious by outflanking the enemy army and destroying the defences around the opposing King."

Every game of chess has its own story. Some are long-drawn out strategic affairs; others can be quick, but complicated, tactical battles. The winner is the player who can out-think his or her opponent, and make the best plans for attack and defence.

Chess is one of the oldest games in the world. Though no-one knows for sure, it was probably invented in India more than a thousand years ago . If you have a chess set, or decide to make your own, here are the rules you need to play the game.

What you need:

A chess board and pieces

Aim of the game:

The aim of the game is to use your army to capture the enemy king.

The armies:

There is a White army and a Black army. Both armies have the same pieces. These are:

Name Picture Symbol Description How it moves
1 King King chess piece King symbol The King is the most important piece in the army. If he is captured, the game is lost. 1 square in any direction (forward, back, across or diagonally)
1 Queen Queen chess piece Queen chess symbol The Queen is the most powerful piece. Any number of squares in any direction
2 Castles Castle chess piece Castle chess symbol Castles are strong pieces which are good both at attacking the enemy and defending the King. Sometimes the Castle is called a ‘Rook’. Any number of squares forward, back or across (but not diagonally)
2 Bishops Chess piece Bishop Chess symbol Bishop Bishops are good at attacking late on in the game. Because they move diagonally, they always stay on the same colour square that they started on. Any number of square diagonally
2 Knights Chess piece Knight Chess symbol Knight Knights are at their best when there are lots of pieces on the board, and they can use their ability to jump over other pieces. ‘L shaped’ – two squares forward (or back) and one square across; or two squares across and one square forward (or back). The Knight can jump over other pieces while doing this.
8 Pawns Chess piece Pawn Chess symbol pawn Pawns are the foot soldiers in the army. They gradually advance on the opposing army, but also need to defend the King. Usually one square forward. If it is capturing an opposing piece, however, it moves one square forward diagonally. Each pawn may move two squares forward the first time it moves. If it does, it cannot capture in the same move. Pawns can never move backwards.

If the description of how a piece moves isn’t clear, have a look at the diagrams at the end of these rules.

How to Play Chess

You need two players. Decide who will be White and who will be Black.

Set up the board so you have a white square on the corner of the board by your right hand. Then place the armies on the board as shown in the picture below.

Chess board - diagram showing setting up layout

Hint: the White Queen starts on a white square, and the Black Queen starts on a black square.

White and Black take it in turns to move a piece (in Chess, the White army always goes first). Remember each piece has its own way of moving as described above. A piece can capture an opposing piece by landing on that piece’s square.

The aim of the game is to capture the enemy King. If you move one of your pieces to attack the King – in other words, your piece could capture him next move – you say ‘check’. This means, roughly ‘watch out for your King!’.

If he or she is in check, your opponent needs to defend the King – either by moving him out of the way of the attack, blocking the attack with another piece, or capturing the piece that threatened to capture the King.

If your opponent can’t defend the King in any of these ways, you say ‘checkmate’. This means ‘the king is dead’. Remember that you must never move your King into ‘check’ as this would mean your opponent could capture your King straightaway.

You can play a version of chess using just the simple rules above, but two additional rules make game much more exciting.

Promoting Pawns
Pawns are usually the slow-moving part of your army, but if you manage to get a pawn to the last row of the board you can ‘promote’ it to be a Queen (or a Castle, Bishop or Knight if you prefer). A Pawn being promoted to a Queen can transform a game that seemed to be lost!

Castling is a quick way to get your King into a well defended position by moving towards the corner of the board. The rule sounds complicated but is simple when you get the hang of it.

If there is nothing between your King and one of your Castles; and neither the King nor that Castle have moved yet, then you can move your King two squares towards that Castle, and put the Castle the other side of the King (this is the only time a piece other than a Knight can jump over another piece).

The diagrams below show how to castle.

Before castling:
Before castling

After castling:
After castling
The White King moves two squares towards the Castle, and the Castle moves to the other side of the King.

One last rule on castling – you can’t castle if your King is in check, or if any of the squares the King moves through when castling are under attack.

How The Pieces Move

Diagram illustration King's moves

Diagram illustrating Queen's moves in Chess

Castle moves in Chess

Diagram illustrating Bishop's moves

Diagram illustration Knight moves

Diagram illustrating Pawn moves
a) 2 squares forward
b) 1 square forward
c) captures


  • Start off by using your central Pawns to try to control the middle of the board.
  • Use your other Pawns to defend the central Pawns and each other.
  • Move your Knights and Bishops out from the back row early on (this is called ‘developing your pieces’ and means you are using the full strength of your army).
  • Be cautious with your Queen at the start – try not to waste time moving her away from enemy attacks.
  • Try to keep your King defended by your Pawns (castling is a good way to do this).
Chess for kids