At the start of the game, each player has 16 pieces consisting of 8 pawns in front of 2 Rooks, 2 Knights, 2 Bishops, and 1 King and Queen. [Learn more about the pieces]
Total Time: 1 minute
Correctly orient the chessboard with a light square in the bottom right (“light” on the “right”).
Put your King on the e-file. White’s King goes on e1 and Black’s King goes on e8. See the picture above.
Place 8 white pawns on the 2nd rank and 8 black pawns on the 7th rank. All your pieces will go behind this wall of pawns.
Take two rooks and put them in the corners behind the pawns of the same color.
Take two Knights and place them next to the Rooks.
Take two Bishops and place them next to the Knights.
Put your Queen on the d-file next to your Bishop. Remember, the Queen goes on her color (i.e. the White Queen goes on the light d1 square).
The first step on the path to chess success is knowing how to set up the chessboard. There are 64 squares on the board – 32 light and 32 dark. The light and dark squares alternate like a checkers board.
There are 8 rows (horizontal) and 8 columns (vertical). The rows are numbered from 1-8 and the columns are lettered from a-h. To identify a particular square, you denote the specific letter and number associated with it. For example, “a1” denotes the square in the a-column and first row. “E5” indicates the square in the e-column and 5th row. [Learn how to notate]
Squares of the same color that touch each other are called diagonals. Some pieces, like the Bishop and Queen, can move on diagonals. To name a diagonal, give the name of the first and last square: a1-h8 is the longest diagonal, followed by b2-g8.
There are several chess variants that use different rules for setting up the chess board. For example, Fischer 960 Random Chess sets up the board completely differently. They have a database of 960 starting positions and at the beginning of each game, choose a different one [learn more here].
There is also 4-player chess and 3-D chess that use different board structures.
Recently, a new variant is on the rise called “5D Chess: With Multiverse Time Travel“.