List of Chess Pieces

Black and white chess set; Copyright Arsgera at Dreamstime.com

Chess is a game that can be difficult to master, but learning the basics is fairly straighforward. Each chess piece has specific movements it can make on the game board. Once you learn about the names of the individual pieces and how each one is supposed to move around the board, you can begin playing right away and worry about developing winning strategies later.

Chess Pieces and How They Move

Each chess game comes with two complete sets of pieces; one for each opponent. Basic sets include one black set and one white set, but the sets can really be any color, and the pieces in some sets are created with very fanciful themes.

Piece Name Number in Each Set How Piece Moves
Chess Pieces and Their Movements
King Chess piece; Copyright Lsttec at Dreamstime.com
King One Moves one vacant square in any direction, including diagonally; May also be "castled" with the rook (see explanation below).
Black chess queen; Copyright Eagleflying at Dreamstime.com
Queen One Moves any number of vacant squares in any direction, including diagonally.
Black chess bishop; Copyright Lsttec at Dreamstime.com
Bishop Two Moves any number of vacant squares diagonally on whichever color that it starts out on.
Black chess knight; Copyright Lsttec at Dreamstime.com
Knight Two Moving the knight is a little tricky.
  • Moves in an "L" shape two spaces in any direction (except diagonally), and then moves one space either left, right, above or below
  • Alternatively, can move one square in any direction (except diagonally), and then move two squares to the left, right or above or below
  • Can jump over other pieces in its path, but must land on either a vacant square or one occupied by an opponent's piece for a capture
Black chess rook; Copyright Irochka at Dreamstime.com
Rook Two Moves any number of vacant spaces in any direction except diagonally; May also be "castled" with the king.
Black chess pawn; Copyright Tatjana Baibakova at Dreamstime.com
Pawn Eight Pawns have the potential to become more powerful players in the game.
  • Moves forward two spaces from its initial postion on the board, and then just one space forward thereafter
  • Moves one space forward diagonally to capture an opponent's piece
  • Can be replaced with one of the player's captured pieces if it reaches the opponent's home rank

Simple Explanation of Castling

Castling is a move made by the king in which the king moves two squares toward the player's own rook. The rook is then moved into the vacant square the king originally moved through.

This move can only be done under a certain set of circumstances.

  • Neither the king nor rook have yet been moved out of their home rank.
  • There is no other piece between them.
  • The vacant square the king moves through on its way to the rook cannot be under attack by the opposing player.
  • The king is not currently in check, nor will be once the move is completed.

Enjoy the Game of Kings

Chess has long been referred to as the game of kings, but anyone can learn to play it. Start out by memorizing how each piece moves and then begin playing with other players. Watch how they move their pieces and you'll begin to see the best ways to move your own to create strategies to win. Chess can be a life-long pursuit, and the more you play, the more your skills will grow.

List of Chess Pieces