Meet the Rook!

Are you wondering why chess is more exciting than checkers? Well for one thing some of the chess pieces can move a lot farther than they can in checkers. Today, you get to be a rook! “But wait a minute I want to be a fireman!” Ok, ok, you can be a fireman later in life but today, I just want you to be a rook. The rook can move in four different directions. The rook can go up! The rook can go down! The rook can go left! The rook can go right! And for any of you kids out there that like to read maps that would be North, South, East and West. The rook has lots of choices here. The rook can go just a little bit or all the way to the edge of the chessboard! So, my rook can move up one that’s possible or all the way to the edge of the board. Or the rook could have stopped somewhere in between. For example, the rook could have gone up two squares or even gone up three squares it would have been your choice! Of course, you can’t go off the edge of the chessboard that would be crazy! In this position I want you to try to count how many different squares the rook can move to? *pause your video and count* What number did you get? Well, if you got the answer 14 you are on the way to being a chess master! Let’s count together one, two, three, and four. Let’s go down five, six, and seven, but we’re not done! We can go left! Eight, nine, ten, and eleven. To the right… 12, 13, and 14. If you got more than 14 chances are you tried to count the square the rook starts on and that doesn’t really count. Are you ready for a challenge question? The rook is actually able to move to any square on the chessboard in two turns no matter which one you pick! Go ahead! Think of a square! Did you think of the square g7? Well, probably not… I was just guessing! But in any case let’s just start with g7 and see if you can make a plan to get there in two moves. Now you might think to start by traveling to the right but if you go all the way to the edge of the board you’re not going to be able to get to g7 on the next turn. So, let’s go back and maybe find a different way to get to g7. Instead, let’s go to the right but let’s stop after only two squares. And if we do that on our next turn we can travel forward and land on the red square. Was there another way to get to g7? Well, there was, I’m sure you found it! The rook could go forward and stop on the square, e7 and then to the right and land on g7. Notice how I’m naming squares! I’m using the letter first and the number second. This square is g7 because it sits on the g “file”. That’s what we call the up and down rows, “files”! And, the square also sits on “rank” number 7 that’s what we call side to side rows we call them “ranks”. The rook had two different ways to get to g7. Go ahead try any other square on the board and then see if you can figure out a way for the rook to get there in two moves. We’ll do one more together! How about a6? Do you see a way to get there in two moves? Well, we can go left all the way to the edge of the board. And then on the next turn the rook could travel up and land on a6. Let’s go back! Of course the other way was to go forward but stop after only two squares and then go to the left and again we land on a6. The final thing that I want you to learn about rooks (before you become firemen that is) is how the rook is able to capture. It’s actually very simple. The rook acts a little bit like a bowling ball and runs over the enemy piece! Let’s see that in action! Here, I gave Black two rooks and White only has one but that’s ok! We’re about to do a couple of captures. These two black rooks are on the same file, the b file. Let’s have the rook on b7 travel down the board and land on the square, b4. Now, these two rooks are aiming at each other. It’s like a game a flashlight tag. But using my bowling ball idea here comes the white rook! The white rook travels all the way over and when the white rook runs into a black piece he can knock it over (in this case take it off the board) but the rook has to stop. You don’t jump over the black rook and you certainly don’t keep going. Once you capture an enemy piece in chess you always have to stop. You can never capture two pieces at once. Now it’s Blacks turn. Do you see a way that Black could capture back the white rook? Well of course! This black rook could travel up the board run over the white rook and then he has to leave the chessboard. You just saw your very first example of a “trade”. Each side got a rook! Let’s review what we learned today… First of all rooks can go up and down left and right. They can go as far as they want to and they’re able to capture by running into the enemy piece and taking that piece off the board. We didn’t learn how to become a fireman maybe we’ll do that in our next lesson! Maybe not…

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