All the Chess Piece Names and Their Moves to Know

The origin of the game of chess is often debatable, and some say it began in China, while others believe it started in India. The most popular belief is that it originated in northern India. However, it is a debate with no definite answer, and all you can do is believe in stories and legends.

Over the years, chess has undergone a series of evolutions, including changing chess figure names and different game moves. This comprehensive guide will be your key to understanding every chess piece and their unique movements on the board. So, prepare to enhance your chess proficiency as we unravel the mysteries behind every chess piece and master their strategic potential in the ultimate quest for victory.

Setting Up a Chessboard

Setting up a Chessboard

You have to play the chess game on a board comprising 64 squares colored alternately in black and white colors. In total, 32 chess pieces get divided into two halves of 16 pieces each. Staunton chess pieces or Staunton chess set are amongst the best, and even chess game championships use them. Since playing chess can only happen between two opponents, the two sets of 16 chess pieces are each colored equally in black and white. For each player, you need to arrange the chess pieces in two rows on the opposite ends of the chessboard as follows:

  • The first or front row comprises eight pawns and the second or inner row has the other pieces arranged strategically.
  • Firstly, the two rooks take up the two corners of the inner row. Then, you place both knights next to the two rooks.
  • After the knights, the bishops take their place next to them in the inner row.
  • If you are the player who has taken the white pieces, place the king on a black square next to one of the bishops in the inner row, and the player with the black pieces places the king in a white square.
  • Lastly, you must put the queens next to the respective kings.
Check Now: The Quick & Simple Guide to Chess Board Setup

Chess Pieces Names and Their Moves

Players need to know what are the 16 chess pieces called and how to move them around the chessboard.

1) Pawn

Setting up the Pawn

The eight pawn pieces of a chess player move one step forward from the second move onwards. Only on the first move do you have the choice of moving it two steps forward. The pawns are like the foot soldiers in a battle, taking up the front row. The pawn can capture the opponent's chess piece by moving a step diagonally. This chess piece is the only one with the superpower of transforming into any other chess piece of your choice if it reaches the last row of the opponent's end of the chessboard.

2) Knight

Setting up the Knight

The two knights, who look like a horse, can move three squares in an L-shaped pattern and jump over other chess pieces. The three steps are either two steps first and 1 step next or 1 step first and two steps next following the formation of the letter L on completion of the move.

3) Bishop

Setting up the Bishop

There are two bishops per player, one in black and the other in white chessboard squares. They can move diagonally on any number of squares of the same color they belong to.

4) Rook

Setting up the Rook

The rook is also two chess pieces per player, and they can move only vertically or horizontally along any number of empty squares on the chess boards.

5) Queen

Setting up the Queen

The queen can move horizontally, vertically, or diagonally along any number of empty squares on the chessboard and is one of the most powerful metal chess pieces in the game. However, every player gets only one queen.

6) King

Setting up the King

There is only one king per player, and he is the most precious piece of the game. However, it is also one of the weakest chess pieces and can move one empty square diagonally, horizontally, or vertically. You should also be aware not to move the king to a square that the opponent can attack, as the primary objective of the game of chess is to protect your king.

Check Now: The Ultimate Guide to Mastering the Official Rules of Chess

Understanding the Points Values of Chess Pieces

Here are the standard point values commonly assigned to chess pieces:

  • Pawn: 1 point - Pawns are the least valuable pieces since they have limited mobility and attacking capabilities. However, they play a vital role in controlling the center and can be promoted to more powerful pieces if they reach the opponent's back rank
  • Knight: 3 points - Knights are considered valuable due to their unique L-shaped movement and ability to jump over other pieces. They can be especially powerful in closed positions and when placed near the center.
  • Bishop: 3 points - Bishops are also worth 3 points. They have the advantage of moving diagonally and can be potent if positioned on open diagonals controlling multiple squares.
  • Rook: 5 points - Rooks are more valuable than knights and bishops due to their ability to move vertically and horizontally across the board. They are powerful in open positions and can control entire ranks and files.
  • Queen: 9 points - The queen is the most powerful piece, commanding a high point value. With its ability to move in any direction across long distances, the queen is a formidable force in both offense and defense.
  • King: Infinite points - The king has no specific point value as its capture results in the end of the game. Despite being the most critical piece, players must prioritize protecting their king at all costs.

Special Chess Moves to Know

Indeed, there are several special chess moves that players need to be familiar with to enhance their gameplay and strategic options. Let's delve into three of these essential moves:

1. Pawn's Two-Move Opening

At the start of the game, pawns have the option to move two squares forward instead of the usual one square. This special move is only allowed on a pawn's first move and can be employed for any of the pawns on the board. It enables players to control the center of the board more effectively and allows other pieces to find better positions. However, it's crucial to be mindful of potential weaknesses created by advancing pawns too far, as they can become vulnerable to attack.

2. Pawn Promotion

When a pawn successfully advances to the opposite end of the chessboard (the eighth rank for white and the first rank for black), it achieves pawn promotion. Here, the player has the unique opportunity to transform the pawn into any other piece of their choice, except for another king. Usually, players promote a pawn to a queen, as it is the most potent piece on the board, significantly boosting attacking capabilities. However, promotion to a knight, bishop, or rook can also be strategically advantageous in specific situations.

3. Castling

Castling is a unique move that involves both the king and one of the rooks. To execute castling, neither the king nor the chosen rook should have moved before the move, and the squares between them should be unoccupied. The king moves two squares towards the rook, while the rook jumps over the king to occupy the square next to it. Castling serves multiple purposes, including enhancing the king's safety by moving it towards the corner and activating the rook, bringing it closer to the center and opening files for potential attacks.

Check Now: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding the Basics of Chess Notation


Knowing how many pieces are in chess and their names are not sufficient. You have to understand how to move them around the chessboard strategically. Different pieces have different rules that apply to them, and some chess pieces can perform special moves. Therefore, you should learn to use them well to take an advantageous position in the game. Various materials make up chess pieces, like wooden, plastic, glass, or even chess pieces, that you can choose as per your comfort.

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