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Basic Concepts of Chess
Here's what every chess player should know.

Learning the rules of chess isn't enough to win games. Here are the first steps to a fuller enjoyment of the game and to eventual mastery.

Chess Notation
Chess notation gives us the means to record and publish chess games. The most commonly used notation is algebraic, but it's useful to know the older descriptive notation. Notation also allows us to discuss the geometry of the chessboard.

Some games have no winner. Here's how to identify perpetual check, triple repetition, insufficient mating material, and the 50 move rule. Many draws are by mutual agreement.

The Relative Value of the Pieces
Knowing what is a fair trade of pieces is crucial to conducting a successful chess game. There are major pieces and minor pieces. What does winning the exchange mean? Examples of equal trades. • See also Relative Value of Pieces and Principles of Play by Wilhelm Steinitz, 1st World Chess Champion.

The Phases of the Game
Your strategy depends on knowing the phase of the game that you're in. The three basic phases are the opening, the middle game, and the endgame. The correct transition from one phase to another can mean the difference between a win and a draw -- or a draw and a loss.

Tactical Play
Tactics, the heart of chess, are based on the way the pieces move. The most common tactical themes -- the fork, the pin, discovered attack, discovered check, and the xray -- are all based on the double attack.

Positional Play
When there are no tactics, positional play is the main factor. You have to pay attention to the center, open lines, piece activity, pawn structure, and King safety. Do you know how to tell a good position from a bad one?

Elementary Endgames
You've reached a position where there are almost no pieces left on the board. Do you know how to notch the win or how to escape with a draw?

Chess Equipment
Chess can fit any budget. Unless you're a blindfold whiz, a board and pieces are the bare minimum. Add a clock for serious or blitz games, a few other accessories for tournament use, and you're ready for action.