Chess Pieces: A Guide.

chess pieces

Chess is a board game played between two players. A chessboard is a black and white 64-square 8-by-8 grid. Chess pieces move around the board using this grid. A player uses either white or black pieces. 

But, what are these chess pieces? And how are they utilised in a game of chess?

Meet the Pieces

chess pieces
The Pawn

The pawn is the least powerful chess piece. It can usually only move forward, but can move diagonally if it’s attacking another piece. On its first move, a pawn can move 1 or 2 squares forward, afterwards it can only move 1 square. Each player starts with 8 pawns.  

The Bishop

The bishop is considered a minor piece. It moves diagonally. Unlike the pawn, the bishop can move as many squares as the player wishes so long as its path is not blocked by other chess pieces. It can move forwards and backwards and attacks in this manor as well. Each player starts with 2 bishops. 

The Knight

Like the bishop, the knight is also considered a minor piece. It moves either 1 square left or right horizontally and then 2 squares up or down vertically, OR it moves 2 squares left or right horizontally and then 1 square up or down vertically. This is thought of as an “L” shape. Knights are the only chess piece that can jump over other pieces. However, it can only attack on the square it lands on, not the squares it jumps over. Each player starts with 2 knights. 

The Rook

The rook is considered a major piece. It moves horizontally and vertically across the board and, like the bishop, can move as many squares as the player wishes. Also like the bishop it can attack any chess piece which is in its path. Each player starts with 2 rooks. 

The Queen

The Queen is the most powerful piece in the game. It can move as many squares as it likes horizontally, vertically, and diagonally! Each player starts with 1 queen. 

The King

The King is the most important chess piece. A player who loses their king, loses the game. The King can move 1 square horizontally, vertically, and diagonally. It can also attack other pieces that are in its path so long as it doesn’t put the king in danger (otherwise known as ‘check’).

How to Play Chess

chess: checkmate basics
Become a Chess Master with Ivan P.

The goal of chess is to checkmate the other player’s king. This means that the king is under attack and has no way of being saved or protected. 


Each player sets up their pieces the same way. On the row of squares closest to the player the order goes (as if the pieces are facing the player):


The King always sits on the square whose color is the same as the king. So white kings start on the white square, and black kings on the black square. 

In front of this row of chess pieces sit the eight pawns. 

First Move

The player who has the white pieces always starts first. Then black goes. Then the players continue to alternate until a player has won. 

About the Author

Lydia B.

Lydia B.

Lydia is a Gooroo Courses Tutor at Gooroo, a tutoring membership and online learning platform that matches students to tutors perfect for them based on their unique learning needs. Gooroo offers math, English, ESL, Spanish tutoring, and more.