Chess Openings: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

Have you ever wondered how the game of chess works? In this lesson, learn about different chess openings, the history behind them, and how to use them to your advantage.

Chess Basics

Do you love games that challenge your mind? If so, the game of chess should be right up your alley! This two-person game has been played for centuries.

In chess, players use a board with 64 squares in a checkered pattern. The boxes in the pattern are labeled like a grid, with letters and numbers. Each player begins with 16 pieces. The pieces include a king (which you don't want captured), a queen (the most powerful), two rooks, two knights, two bishops, and eight pawns (the least important).

Chess players want to defend the all-important king.

You are a chess winner if you corner your opponent's king so it cannot escape being captured. This is when you get to say checkmate, meaning the king is in check (trapped and doomed to be captured) and you are victorious!

Game On!

Chess pieces are white and black, and the two sides playing each other are often called 'white' and 'black.' These pieces are set up in certain positions at the start of the game. So how does the game of chess begin?

White always begins first, and pawns are the pieces that make the first moves. These first moves are called openings. Remember those letters and numbers on the chess board grid? This is how the player determines their move. On the first move, 'white' may move their pawn from e2 to e4. Pawns can move one or two spaces forward on the first move, and only one space on all other moves. Pawns can also move diagonally, but only to capture other pieces.

This shows the initial set-up of a chess board for a match.

Openings are also used to defend certain chess pieces. There are thousands of different openings, and many of them are hundreds of years old. Let's find out about some of the most basic chess openings.

Ruy-Lopez Opening

One of the most popular and oldest chess openings is called the Ruy-Lopez Opening. This opening was invented in the 1600s by a bishop who lived in Spain. It is sometimes also called the Spanish Opening.

Remember how chess moves use the numbers and letters labeled on the chessboard? This chess opening includes some of the following moves: e4 and e5. There are different variations, or versions, of the Ruy-Lopez Opening.

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