Chess Lessons by Lee Duigon: Lesson Eleven

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Lesson 11: the Queen.

The Queen is your most powerful piece in your chess army: air-mobile troops with gunships. She combines the moves of a Rook and a Bishop–diagonal or perpendicular, as far as she can go (if there’s nothing in the way).

Many beginners make the mistake of expecting too much of the Queen, bringing her out too early, too aggressively, and wind up losing her. I like to save my Queen for a move that has a chance of being decisive. Like any other piece, the Queen can be sacrificed to achieve a strategic coup; but don’t bring her out early and let her get trapped.

The longer the game goes on, the more scope for your Queen to act decisively. In the opening game, Pawns, then Knights, then Bishops. In the middle game, Rooks and Queen. Wait for some of the troops to be cleared away before committing your Queen.

Of course, when you do see a chance for the Queen to strike a telling blow, think it over, and if it still looks good–take it! The Queen is your big bopper and ought to be used accordingly.

Before I take up the King, check, and checkmate, I’d like to answer any questions you may have.

– Lee Duigon, on January 4th, 2019

Thank you so much for this lesson, Mr. Duigon!!

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Chess Lessons by Lee Duigon: Lesson Ten

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(This lesson was a Christmas present to me by Mr. Duigon! Thank you, Mr. Duigon!)

Lesson 10: More about Rooks

There are two important things to remember about Rooks. 1) They work best when they work together. Unlike Bishops, they can defend each other. Unlike Knights, they can do it at long range. Rooks at a1 and a8, for instance, provided there is nothing in the way, defend each other the length of the board. 2) The principal of “sliding Rooks”: although the Rook is a high value piece, it can often be sacrificed–for instance, by taking a Pawn that is protecting the opposing King, blowing a hole in the defense–when the other Rook is able to “slide in” to replace it on your next turn. Example: Rooks on h1 and g1. The g1 Rook sweeps down to g7 to capture a defending enemy Pawn and threaten (“check”) the opposing King. The King, due to circumstances we won’t go into here, has no alternative but to capture your Rook on g7. When it’s your turn to move again, your h1 Rook “slides” to g1 and again attacks the enemy King–who no longer has a Pawn in front of him to defend him.

There is a saying in chess, “When you can move either of your two Rooks, you almost always end up moving the wrong one!” So take the time to carefully consider your moves.

– Lee Duigon, December 25th, 2018

Want to read an engaging series? Well, I recommend the Bell Mountain Series by Lee Duigon! I guarantee that you will find it hard to put the book down once you start reading!

Read some sample chapters here!

Chess Lessons by Lee Duigon: Lesson Nine

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Chess Lesson 9: the Rooks (aka “Castles”)

Knights and Bishops are Minor Pieces; Rooks and Queens are Major Pieces, because they’re much more powerful. Your two Rooks start the game at opposite ends of your back rank, on the A and H squares. This is ironic: because Rooks work best when they work together, they could hardly start worse off than to be separated by the whole rest of your army. So as you make moves early in the game, you’ll want to position your Rooks so that they can work together and support each other.

The Rook moves straight ahead–forward, backward, right or left, as far as you want it to go, provided nothing else is in the way. Unlike a Bishop, a Rook has access to every square on the board and can often get there in a hurry. Think of your Rooks as self-propelled heavy artillery, well-suited to breaking open a defensive position.

Together, the Rook and the King can execute a peculiar move called “castling,” the only time in chess when you can move more than one piece at a time. There is Queen’s side or “long castling,” to the left of the King, and King’s side or “short castling” to the right of the king.

Rules of castling: Neither the King nor the Rook involved can have moved before: the castling must be their first move. None of the squares covered by the castling move may be subject to enemy attack at the time. No other piece can be in the way between the King and the Rook.

Short castling, if you are White: King on e1, Rook on h1, King moves two squares to the right, to g1, and the Rook hops over him to f1. This is all counted as a single move. For long castling, King on e1, Rook on a1, King moves two squares to the left to c1 and Rook hops over him to d1. If you’re Black, the squares are e8, de8, a8, h8, f8, and c8.
Castling tends to confuse beginners, but eventually they get it.

Reasons for castling: It puts your King in a safer position, and puts your Rook in a more advantageous position from which to cooperate with the other Rook and maneuver offensively.

There’s a lot more to it, of course, but this is probably enough for now.

Lee Duigon, on December 19th, 2018

Lee Duigon is the author of the Bell Mountain series, which currently has 12 volumes. I definitely recommend his books for both kids and adults!

Stay tuned for Lesson Ten!

Chess Lessons by Lee Duigon: Lesson Eight

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Chess Lesson: Introducing Bishops.

Bishops are the tanks and armored infantry of your chess army. Unlike a Knight, a Bishop can sweep from one end of the board to the other in a single move, provided nothing’s in the way. They do have one weakness, though.

You have two Bishops, one of which starts on a black square (C1 for White, F8 for Black) and the other on a white square (F1, C8). Bishops can only move diagonally, which means each Bishop spends the entire game on squares of the same color from which it started. Because of this, Bishops work best when you have both of them. That way, they can cover all the squares on the board.

A Bishop has a value of 3, same as a Knight. They’re often exchanged during play. But in the long run, two Bishops are more powerful than two Knights.

Generally Bishops are the pieces you want to bring into play after you’ve developed your Knights. Save your Rooks and Queen for a few moves later. Bishops work very well with Pawns because they can defend one another: a Bishop on E4 and a Pawn on F3, for instance, make for a defensive strong point.

A Bishop has the ability to attack two men at once, either by a fork or by a “skewer.” If your opponent, for instance, has one Rook on H8 and another on G7, and your Bishop moves to B2, you have skewered the two Rooks and one of them will be captured.

I should point out that in chess, unlike checkers, captures are always optional: you don’t have to capture an opposing man if you have a reason not to.

More on Bishops next time. Any questions?

Lee Duigon (Dec. 8th, 2018)

Thank you, Mr. Duigon, for the chess lesson!

Check out Lee Duigon’s site at and make sure you read his amazing fantasy fiction series!

Stay tuned for Lesson Nine!

Chess Lessons by Lee Duigon: Lesson Seven

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Lesson Seven: More about Knights…

Now that you’ve mastered the L-shaped move, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Knights are your special forces, and the best place for them is near the center of the board on the fourth or fifth rank, defended by Pawns if possible. Old chess saying: “A Knight on the rim (of the board) is dim.” If an enemy Knight is posted on your third or fourth rank, it means trouble for you. Chase it away or capture it.

Among the most devastating chess tactics is the Knight fork: your one Knight simultaneously attacks two or more high-value enemy targets. Imagine your opponent has his two Rooks on squares B8 and E7, and you have a Knight on D4. If you move the Knight to C6, you simultaneously attack both Rooks; only one can escape, and you capture the other. Even if the Knight is then lost, you have come out ahead: a Rook is worth 5, a Knight worth 3.

Knight forks that include a check on the opposing King are especially deadly.
The Knight’s one drawback is its short range, so remember: the middle of the board is where you want to be.


Lee Duigon (Dec. 1st, 2018)

Thank you, Mr. Duigon, for the chess lesson!

To my readers, thank you for reading, and make sure you check out Lee’s blog and books!

Stay tuned for Lesson Eight!

Chess Lessons by Lee Duigon: Lesson Six

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Lesson 6

Time for a chess lesson! Introducing the Knight.

Your army starts out with two Knights on the b1 and g1 squares (if you’re White: b8 and g8 if Black).

The Knights are the special forces of your chess army. They excel in producing the unexpected. You can’t win a war with a couple of Navy SEAL companies, but they can set up situations in which your more powerful units can strike a decisive blow.
This is mostly because the Knight has sort of a weird L-shaped move–and can leap over pieces that are in the way, regardless of color. Let me see if I can succeed in posting this diagram.

Aah, didn’t work. So take out your chessboard and put a Knight on square e5.

From there he can move to any one of the following squares: d3, f3,g4,g6, f7,d7,c6, or c4. Even if he were surrounded by adjacent chessmen, he could still move to any one of those squares–by leaping over them.

A lot of beginners find it hard to learn the Knight’s move. I learned it as an L-shaped move, so that’s how I’ll teach it.

The Knight is the only back-row piece that can make your first move, by leaping over the front rank of Pawns.

The Knight’s shortcoming is his short range. He is the only piece that can’t go from one end of the board to the other in one move.

Again, the cool thing about Knights is that they can surprise an opponent. Many beginners’ games are won or lost by failure to anticipate a crucial move by a Knight.

We’ll get into more of the details in the next lesson.

Lee Duigon (Nov. 22nd, 2018)

Check out Mr. Duigon’s blog at!! Don’t forget to give him a follow!
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Stay tuned for Lesson Seven!

Chess Lessons by Lee Duigon: Lesson Five

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Lesson 5: a few more thoughts on Pawns.

You need to move your Pawns in order to create space for your Pieces, starting on the back row, to operate. This takes some good judgment. If you move too many Pawns too far, your defense will suffer. But if you hold too many Pawns back, you’ll cramp your own army.

Most chess games start with moving the Pawn in front of the King, creating space for your Queen and bishop to come out: e4 if White, e5 if Black. Starting with the Queen Pawn is also popular: d4 or d5. Any Pawn, of course, can be moved for your first move, but for beginners the Pawn move, e2-e4 or e7-e5, is best. Note these Pawns are taking advantage of the opportunity to move two squares instead of one.

Remember, Pawns are the only men who can never move backward, never retreat. Devote some thought to any Pawn move.

During a game, as a result of captures, you may wind up with “doubled Pawns”–for example, on e5 and e4. This creates a weakness because Pawns are only able to capture diagonally: doubled Pawns can’t defend each other. This doesn’t seem to bother experts very much, but it’s relatively easy to attack a beginner who has doubled Pawns. Try to avoid them–but don’t try too hard. If capturing an enemy Rook leaves you with a doubled Pawn, you’re coming out ahead.

Always be on the lookout for the deadly “Pawn fork,” the first tactical coup I ever learned in chess. Imagine you have a Rook on c5 and a Knight on e5, and your opponent has an unmoved Pawn on d7. If it’s his move, he can move that Pawn to d6 and simultaneously attack both your pieces, each of which is much more valuable than a Pawn. Very hard to escape without losing one or the other!

And that, I think, is enough for you to digest for now.

For the next lesson we’ll take up the topic of your chess army’s special forces–the Knights.

Lee Duigon (Nov. 14th, 2018)

Check out Mr. Duigon’s blog at!! Don’t forget to give him a follow! I really recommend The Bell Mountain Series by Lee Duigon!

Stay tuned for Lesson 6!

Chess Lessons by Lee Duigon: Lesson Four

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Lesson 4 – a bit more about Pawns.

The job Pawns do best is to defend your Pieces and your territory. Remember, they can only capture diagonally. Whole books have been written on this subject, but I can’t do that here.

“Pawn chains” often play a major role in defense. A simple chain of three Pawns might be placed on, for example, squares C5, B4, and A3. The A-Pawn defends the B-Pawn, and the B-Pawn defends the Pawn on C5. The weak link in the chain is the A-Pawn, which cannot be defended by another Pawn. When you have to attack a pawn chain, always aim for the weakest link.

There is a dirty trick in chess involving any Pawn you might have on the 5th rank. If your Pawn is on, say, E5, your opponent may attempt to move a Pawn *two* squares, as its first move, to D5 or F5. If he does, on your next move, *and only then*, your E5 Pawn may capture it by moving diagonally to D6 or F6, just as if your opponent’s Pawn had stopped there, having moved one square instead of two. This move is called Capturing En Passant, “In Passing.” It’s a legal move, and you should always keep an eye out for it. I find that when you take an opponent’s Pawn en passant, it usually shocks and confuses him: he loses his cool, and sometimes his train of thought as well. It’s not a move that shocks a very experienced player, it’s a perfectly legal move, but it often has a disproportionately powerful effect on the game. Personally, I’m always on the lookout for it.

The next lesson will be more about Pawns. I’ll try to stick to the basics. But as the 18th century French master, Philidor, famously said, “Pawns are the soul of chess.” So don’t sell them short.

Lee Duigon (Nov. 3rd, 2018)

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I really recommend The Bell Mountain Series by Lee Duigon! There are 12 volumes altogether!

Stay tuned for the next chess lesson!

Chess Lessons by Lee Duigon: Lesson Three

(It has been 6 months since I posted the last chess lesson by Lee Duigon, so here’s Lesson Three, the first chess lesson I will share in 2020!)

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Lesson 3 – Moving the Pawns ♟

You start with 8 Pawns lined up on the 2nd rank, in front of your pieces. Individually expendable, Pawns are nevertheless important. Beginners often don’t realize that, because it takes experience to get good use out of them. But before that, the moves.

On its first move, and only then, a Pawn may be moved either one square forward or two squares forward. All other moves are either one square straight ahead–or one square diagonally, when making a capture.

In chess, all captures are made by moving one of your men onto a square occupied by an opponent’s man, who is then removed from the game. When a capture is made, the capturing man’s move ends.

So a Pawn cannot advance if there is another chessman directly in front of it.
If a Pawn is moved all the way to the opposite end of the board, it is cashed in for a Piece of higher value. Usually that’s a Queen; occasionally, a Knight.

During the course of the game, Pawns are valuable mostly in a defensive role.

Only the Pawn can never move backwards. Remember that when you decide to move a Pawn: it can’t retreat.

The next lesson will deal with some finer points about Pawns.

Feel free to ask any questions! I’ve never done this on line before, so I may sometimes leave out something.

– By Lee Duigon, October 26th, 2018 (Posted with permission)

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I really recommend The Bell Mountain Series by Lee Duigon! You really should read those exciting books! Here’s a post about The Bell Mountain Series.

Chess Lessons by Lee Duigon: Lesson Two


Lesson Two–Relative value of the pieces.

This is very important for beginners, who tend to make bad trade-offs. A good position is even more valuable, but it takes experience to gauge this.

For the time being, keep these numbers firmly in mind: Pawn-1, Knight or Bishop-3 (although two Bishops are a little better than two Knights), Rook (or Castle)-5, with both Rooks together being very valuable indeed, and Queen-8 (because it’s like having a Rook and a Bishop in one piece).

The King is priceless, because if you lose your King, you’ve lost the game.

These values become less important as you gain experience, but for the time being, they’re very important to your play and understanding of the game.

Chess is a game that simulates war, and it’s not a bad simulation. Think of the Pawns as foot soldiers, Knights as special forces, Bishops as tanks, Rooks as heavy artillery, and the Queen as a bunch of heavily-armed helicopters. And then always try to devise the best way to blend their different powers and abilities into a productive combination.

(October 22nd, 2018, from The Scrabble Game)

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