Chess Pieces • Chess History • Chess Glossary
There are six different kinds of chess pieces: king, queen, rook, bishop, knight, and pawn. The pieces are always set up in the same way at the beginning of the game, with the most important pieces on the first row of squares. The rooks sit in the corners, flanked by knights on both sides. Next come the bishops. Finally, the king and the queen sit in the middle two squares. The queen sits on her own color, and the king sits on the adjoining middle square. Eight pawns are placed in the second row in front of all these pieces.
The king is the game's most important piece, as the goal of the game is to trap the king and call checkmate. That being said, it is one of the least powerful pieces, and is only allowed to move one square at a time in any direction.
Rooks can move up-and-down as well as side-to-side on the board, but they cannot leap over pieces blocking their path.
The bishop may move forward or backward along a diagonal path for as many squares as it likes, as long as it doesn't run into pieces of its own color. A bishop can only move along the color squares it started on; for example, a bishop that started on a white square can only move along white squares.
The queen is the shorter of the two pieces with crowns. The queen, perhaps the most powerful piece on the board, can move up, down, and across, as well as diagonally.
The knight, which looks like a horse, can move two squares in a straight direction and then one to the side. The knight is the only piece that can leap over other pieces.
The pawns, the shortest pieces on the board, are also the least valuable. However, they do play an important role in the game. After the first move, in which they can move forward one or two squares, pawns can only move one square forward. Pawns move forward in a diagonal direction to capture an opposing piece, but normally they move straight forward. Pawns are used to mark out territory.
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