Explore the Different Chess Pieces

Where Chess Pieces Go

Chess pieces, or chessmen, come in every shape, size, design, and material. From the practical plastic sets used for schools to the luxurious metal pieces designed for serious chess play.

Each side starts with eight pawns that can move forward one or two squares. They can also capture diagonally. Once a pawn reaches the opposite corner it can be promoted into any other piece.


The King, while not the strongest piece, is still crucial to the game. It starts out hiding until few enemy pieces remain, and then marches into the center during the endgame to become a strong attacking piece. A king can move one square in any direction (horizontal, vertical, diagonal). It cannot jump over other pieces, but can capture those directly adjacent to it as long as they aren’t being threatened or blocked.

The king can also castle, which is described in the special moves section below. When a player castles, their king can move two squares in one direction and then one square perpendicular to that. This is the only way a king can move without being checked. It is a unique feature that sets the King apart from other chess pieces.


With moves that are much more expansive than those of the knights and bishops, the Queen is one of the most powerful pieces in chess. It can move to any number of unoccupied squares vertically, horizontally or diagonally and capture enemy pieces on the way.

It is worth nine points – four more than the next most powerful piece, the rook. Because of this, it is often considered the most important piece on the board.

However, novice chess players often bring their Queen into active gameplay too early, opening themselves up to attack from enemy lines. Keeping your Queen dormant for as long as possible is an essential part of winning a game.


Rooks move forward and backward in straight lines along any rank or file of the chess board. However, they cannot move diagonally like the knight or bishop.

They are especially powerful when placed on open or semi-open ranks and files of the chess board where they are not obstructed by any other pieces or passed pawns. This is why they are often a major focus for both players during the middle and end game of a chess match.

Rooks can be promoted to a queen or bishop when their pawn reaches the final row of the board furthest from its starting point, which is referred to as castling. However, this is usually forbidden by the rules of chess. Therefore, rooks usually wait in the wings until they are needed for combat, or a player is running low on pieces.


The Bishop is the only piece in the game that can move diagonally. It can move any number of squares along a diagonal as long as it doesn’t land on an occupied square or block the path of another piece.

Unlike the knight, which attacks pieces from a distance, the bishop can attack from any position on the board. This makes it a valuable attacking piece.

A good Bishop will help to defend your friendly pawns and can also be used to attack the rival chess pieces. However, a bad Bishop locked in behind blocked pawns won’t be of much use to your side. This is why having two Bishops is better than just one. They are a major part of any strong chess strategy.


A knight moves in a very different way than the other pieces, often described as an L-pattern. In this pattern, the knight can move two squares in a vertical pathway followed by one square horizontally or two squares in a diagonal pathway.

Like a horse galloping over obstacles, the knight can skip over enemy or friendly pieces to get to its destination. However, it can’t stop on a square that has a piece standing there already.

It’s important to understand where the Knight goes because it can help you trap the opposing King and win the game. It’s also worth noting that the Knight can capture pawns, but cannot capture other pieces. Each side starts the game with two Knights. They are valued at three points compared to a rook which is worth five.

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