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Chess Pieces’ Names – Get To Know Chess Pieces & Moves

After reading this article, you will be acquainted on chess pieces’ names and how they move. This is made simple for a beginner to follow.

Game of chess is played with a total of 32 chess pieces, each player has 16 pieces which are distinguished by color. Chess pieces are identified as black and white, even though they might be other colors like brown. In case where the colors are not exactly black and white, the dark colored pieces are identified as black and light colored pieces are identified as white.

Before we explain further, take a look at the picture below to get to know how the pieces looks like, that is if you are a total beginner, if you know them it is okay!. Well from left to right: King, Queen, Bishop, Knight, Rook and Pawn. So, as I mentioned before, each side starts with 16 pieces, consisting of 8 pawns, 2 rooks, 2 knights, 2 bishops, a queen and a king

Pawn

Pawn is the smallest of piece in the chess board, which often starts the game. There are a total of 16 pawns in a single board or chess game, each player begins with 8 pawns standing in front of other 8 chess pieces. The white pawns occupy all the squares in the column marked with number 2, this means white pawns start on a2, b2, c2, d2, e2, f2, g2 and h2. On the hand, the black pawns occupy all the squares on column number 7, therefore they start on a7, b7, c7, d7. e7, f7 g7 and h7.

Pawns can be identified by pieces behind them in a chess board, therefore pawns in front of king, queen, rook, knight and bishop at start of the game are called King Pawn, Queen Pawn, Rook Pawns, Knight Pawn and Bishop Pawn respectively. Furthermore, they can be divided in to two categories namely Queen side pawns and King side pawns. Queen side pawns are pawns on the side of Queen piece on the board while Kind side pawns are those on King’s side of the board.

How A Pawn Moves?

Pawn pieces can only move one square at time in a vertical forward movement, with two exceptions;

  • On their first move, they can move two square foreward in vertical direction and after that they move only one square forward
  • They can move diagonally forward anywhere in the board when capturing an opponent’s chess piece.

Pawns only advance forward and they can never move backwards or capture any piece in a backward motion, this means that pawn pieces keeps advancing forward until they reach the other side of the board and it will promote. Promotion of a pawn it is when a player trade pawn for any other piece which was already captured by opponent, this happens when pawn reach the opponents

As pawns capture opponent’s pieces in diagonal motion, it means if there is another piece directly in front of it then it cannot capture that piece, therefore in this case the pawn is stuck, it can not advance forward until that piece moves. A pawn also can be blocked by another pawn, when two pawns meet at squares directly in front of each other, they block each other and this is called pawn ram. It is very important to avoid rams because they limit your attacking options.

Rook

Rook chess pieces looks like a castle, in fact I knew it as ‘castle’ when I begin playing chess, it is the easiest way to remember it. The name castle is considered informal and ‘old-fashioned’. Each player begins the game with two rook pieces which occupies the corner squares of the board, white rooks start on a1 and h1 squares while black rooks start on a8 and h8 squares.

How A Rook Moves?

Rooks moves vertically (forward and backward) and horizontally (side to side) as far as you want, as long as it is obstructed by other pieces. Rook captures opponent’s pieces occupying the square which is in its way, then it occupies that square.

Even though the rooks are the most simple moving pieces in the game, they are very powerful pieces when working together or protecting each other.

Rook and a special move called castling, here comes the name ‘castle’ again. Castling move is when the King piece and rook are moved at the same time. This will be discussed later in detail.

Knight

Knight chess piece it is the horse like piece – it is represented by a horse head. There are two knights for each player, occupying the squares between the rooks and bishops at the start of the game. The white knights occupy squares b1 and g1, black knights occupies b8 and g8 at start of the game.

How A Knight Moves?

Knight chess pieces has a unique and mysterious way of moving on the chess board which is often confusing to chess beginners. Knight is the only piece which can jump other pieces, which makes it possible to start the game as it can jump the pawn pieces. Only pawns and knights can start the game.

Knights moves in an L shape, which is made by moving two squares vertically and one square horizontally or moving two squares horizontally and one square vertically. This means moves forward, backward, left or right two squares and then moves one square in either perpendicular direction. Of course, I know this is confusing already for a beginner, so I made a diagram for you.

Have a look at the diagram, it shows all possible moves of the two white knights, the destination squares are marked with dots, so for the knight piece to get there it goes in direction of the arrows. Knight is the most unpredictable piece in the game and it can be very powerful especially when they work together because one knight can protected multiple pieces or squares at one time and threaten multiple pieces at the same time

Bishop

Bishop chess piece is the tall and slender pieces with a cut at its tip. There are two bishops for each player in the chess board, one sits between the king and the knight piece (king’s knight) and the other sits between the queen and the other knight (queen’s knight). In terms of color, the white bishops occupy squares c1 and f1, black bishops occupies c8 and f8.

How A Bishop moves?

Bishops moves in diagonals as far as desired, so long as there is no piece obstructing their way. Each player has two bishops in occupying different color of the square. A bishop occupying white or light colored square at start of game can only move in that color, it can never be in black or dark colored square. Same applies to bishop occupying black or dark colored square, it can never be in white or light colored square.

The bishop is stuck moving in diagonals and so it can only captures pieces along the diagonals. They work well together and they can be very useful.

Queen

For obvious reason, the Queen can be seen with a crown on her head beside the King on the chess board. Each player has one queen, with white queen on d1 and the black queen on d8. The white queen always starts on a white square and the black queen always starts on a black square, if it is not case when setting your pieces, then the chess board is not oriented correctly.

For you to stay in the game, it is very important to ensure that you do not lose her early in the game, some players can sacrifice any other piece to save the queen, yes that’s how important the queen is; she ‘wins’ you game. Most of the time players promote pawn to a queen, remember the promotion of pawn we talked about earlier?

How The Queen Moves?

The queen is the most powerful and dangerous chess piece in the board as it is able to move in all directions, as far as it desires. She moves horizontally ( side to side) and vertically (forward and backwards) like rooks and also she moves in diagonals like bishops.

She captures any piece which can be found in her diagonals, horizontal or vertical routes and she occupies the square of the piece. Even though the queen is very powerful and moves as she desires, she can never jump over other pieces, only knight can do that.

King

The King can be identified by a cross on his head. Each player has one king, white king starts on square e1 and black king starts on square e8. He is the most important piece in the game and the game is centralized around him. The King cannot be captured, you cannot play the game without this piece in the chess board, when the King is threatened by opponent’s pieces and he cannot move anywhere, the game is over, this is called checkmate.

How The King Moves?

The King is considered the weakest due to his limited movements as he can only move one square at a time in any directions except in the case of castling when it can move more than one square. Castling move is when King and rook move simultaneously when there are no pieces between them. We will talk about rules of castling soon. The king piece cannot move to any square that puts them into a “check” position.

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5 Comments

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      Hello Demetra, thanks for your comment, I hope you found the post useful

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