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Is Chess Considered a Board Game? Hint: Yes (Let Us Explain Why…)

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Chess is a game of strategy, tactics, and skill. It is usually played with two people, and the goal is to ‘checkmate’ the opposing king. But what kind of game is it, really? Right now, you may be wondering, ‘is chess a type of board game?’

Chess is considered a board game. It is played on a checkerboard with 64 squares arranged on an 8X8 grid. It also fits the criteria of a standard board game, which is ‘any game played on a board, especially one that involves the strategic movement of pieces.’

Now that you know chess is indeed a board game, let’s take a closer look at this by breaking down the definition of ‘board game’ and applying it to the principles of chess. We will also discuss why some people consider chess to be the greatest board game in the world! 

So, if you’re ready to learn all you need to know about chess, the board game, then let’s get to it!

Is Chess Considered a Board Game?

In order to determine whether or not chess can be defined as a board game, let’s review the definition of a board game, break it down into sections, and then apply each section to the principles of chess. According to the Oxford dictionary, a board game is:

“Any game played on a board, especially one that involves the movement of pieces on the board…”

“Any game…”

The Oxford dictionary defines ‘game’ as “a form of play or sport, especially a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength or luck.” Now, let’s take this one step further and explore how chess relates to each point in this definition.

  • “…a form of play or sport” – chess is definitely a form of play, as people all over the world engage in it simply for enjoyment. It might also be considered a sport in many ways because it is competitive, requires skill, and is entertaining. It lacks the physicality that most people often associate with sports, but where it falls short physically, it more than makes up for mentally. Intense training is not only recommended but required in order to play this ‘sport’.
  • “…especially a competitive one” – chess is indeed competitive, as players can remain locked in a battle for hours until a winner is determined. Sitting across from a fierce opponent, as the clock ticks down and the game becomes more intense, is as competitive as it gets!
  • “…played according to rules” – chess has a distinct set of rules that dictate how a player can move at varying stages of the game. These rules must be followed at all times. If a player makes an illegal move, it must be retracted immediately.
  • “…decided by skill, strength or luck” – skill plays a major role in the game of chess. It has no random element at all. Players are aware of the game state at all times throughout the competition. The winner is usually the strongest player. However, luck can sometimes affect the outcome, if a player makes a ‘blunder’ move.

“Played on a board…” 

Chess is played on a game board similar to the one used for checkers. It contains 64 squares (alternating between black and white) on an 8X8 grid. 

The board is made from a number of different materials, including ebony, ivory, marble, metal, glass, and plastic. This surface is what the pieces or pawns use to move across the board to victory!

“Involves strategy…”

The game of chess is 100% strategy, when it comes to winning. You must have a better plan of action than that of your opponent, or else you will lose. There is rarely any luck involved. Players train for years to become grandmasters. They study the different strategies and practice them often. 

The basic strategies of chess include the following:

  • Protect your king – the object is to get your king to the corner of the board, where he will be safe from attack.
  • Castle as soon as possible – don’t put off castling, as this leaves your king exposed and vulnerable to capture.
  • Don’t give away your pieces – each one is valuable (some more than others) so avoid losing them needlessly to your opponent.
  • Control the center of the board – by controlling the center, you have more room to move your pieces, which makes it harder for your opponent to move.
  • Use all of your pieces – your pieces won’t do you any good sitting in their starting row, so get them out on the board so they can protect your king.

“Movement of pieces…”

Chess requires the movement of pieces around the board. Each piece moves in a specific way throughout the game. Besides ‘checkmating’ your opponent, another goal is to capture your opponent’s pieces by coordinating a plan of attack and then executing it flawlessly. Each piece is valuable to the game.

Is Chess the Best Board Game?

Chess is often considered to be the best board game ever invented. At least, I’m sure that’s what chess masters believe, anyway! The reasons used to explain this belief include the following:

  • Chess is balanced and fair – there is next to no luck involved in this game. The best and strongest players win, as the game is based solely on strategy and skill. You cannot simply roll the dice and see what happens!
  • Chess is relatively easy to learn – kids as young as 4 can learn to play chess. And since the pieces move in specific patterns, new players can be taught the game easily. No matter your age or cultural background, it is a game that anyone (and everyone) can play.
  • Chess has infinite playing options – since the game cannot be ‘solved’, there are infinite ways to play and win. There are 400 different ways to play just the very first move of the game! This alone leads to thousands of different scenarios which no other board game can match!
  • Chess cannot ‘get old’ – since there are infinite possibilities when it comes to playing the game, it doesn’t get old or boring. So many new and exciting challenges await each opponent. No matter how many times you play, there is always something new to learn.
  • Chess has multiple ‘phases’ – unlike other board games, chess has a beginning, a middle, and an end. There is no other board game that requires such an intense build-up of strategy, as a player must play each phase just right in order to win. 

All in all

There is an ongoing debate as to whether chess is a game or a sport! Well, one thing is for certain, it is definitely a ‘board game’. It is played on a checkerboard with 64 squares arranged on an 8X8 grid. It also fits the dictionary definition of a board game to a ‘T’!

So, why not challenge a friend or family member to a fun and competitive game of chess tonight? No need to wish you ‘good luck’ because, as we all now know, when it comes to chess, only the best player wins! Best regards!

JC Franco

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.