How Does Each Piece Move In Chess?

chess basic movements

Chess is one of the most popular and widely-known board games in the world. In an 8-by-8 grid, two players are each given 16 pieces: eight pawns, two knights, two bishops, two rooks, one queen, and one king. The game’s objective is to capture your enemy’s king, which is known as checkmate. Keep reading to learn more about how each chess piece moves in chess.


How does a Pawn move?

chess pawn movements

Pawns are generally considered the weakest and most disposable chess pieces; they are worth one point. However, players have more pawns (8) than any other piece. Each player starts with eight pawns, placed on the second row from each player's perspective. They are used to control the center of the board and to attack and defend your opponent.

Pawns can move two spaces forward on their first move if the spaces are empty. On all other occasions, pawns can only move one space forward. When capturing enemy pieces, a pawn can move one space diagonally forward. Further, pawns cannot jump, move backward or capture enemy pieces by moving backward.

If a pawn reaches the eighth rank (the other side), it can be promoted to any piece other than a king, including a queen, bishop, rook, or knight. Pawns are the only chess piece capable of doing this, giving them unique importance.

How does a Bishop move?

chess bishop movements

The bishop is a long-range chess piece that can move diagonally in any direction across the board. Bishops can not jump over pieces, and they can only move on their respective light or dark squares. If a bishop starts on a dark square, it can naturally only move to other dark squares diagonally.

Each player has two bishops, and they are valued at 3 points each. One is placed between the king and king’s knight, while the other is placed between the queen and queen’s knight. 

The bishop is a valuable asset in defending one's pieces as well as launching attacks, as it can quickly move across the board. To capture an opponent’s piece, the bishop moves diagonally into its space.

How does a Rook move?

chess rook movements

Colloquially and incorrectly known as the castle, the rook is a chess piece valued at 5 points, second only to the queen (and king). Players are given two rooks placed on the left and right corners of the board.

The rook can move any number of empty squares up, down, left, or right, but it cannot move diagonally. To capture an opponent’s piece, the rook directly moves into its space.

The rook is also able to perform a move called "castling," which allows it to move two spaces towards the king and then move the king to the square next to the rook on the far side. Castling is the only time when a player is able to move two pieces in one turn. Nonetheless, this can only occur if there are no pieces between the rook and king.

How does a Knight move?

chess knight movements

A knight in chess moves in an L-shape, meaning two squares horizontally and then one square vertically, or vice versa. It can move in an L-shape in any direction, left, right, up, or down.

Players are given two knights, each worth 3 points. The knight is the only piece that can "jump" over other pieces. As such, it is a powerful piece that can quickly cover a lot of ground on the chessboard and reach strategic positions.

On the flip side, the knight can also be easily blocked by enemy pieces and is vulnerable to attack from long-range pieces like bishops and queens. As a result, knights are best used in conjunction with other pieces, such as the pawn.

How does a King move?

chess king movements

The king is the most important piece on the chessboard, yet it is also one of the weakest. Players are each given one king, and if captured, the game ends.

The king can only move one square at a time in any direction, including backward, vertically, horizontally, and diagonally, and it can never move into check. That is, a player can not move their king into a position of danger where it can be captured in the following turn. It is an illegal move that often results in an instant defeat or restart. Additionally, the king cannot move into a checkmate position.

The king can also perform castling, wherein it is moved two squares toward the rook, and then the rook is moved to the square where the king passed.

While the king may not be the strongest piece on the board, it is still essential to the game, and its player must exercise caution and strategic planning in order to keep it safe.

How does a Queen move?

chess queen movements

The queen is the most powerful and versatile piece on the chessboard. Each player is given one, situated next to the king, and it is valued at 9 points.

The queen can move in any direction, vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, and in any number of empty spaces until reaching an obstruction (like another piece). The piece can move one space or up to seven, depending on the spaces available.

The queen can not jump and captures pieces (only one per turn) by directly occupying their space. The queen is often used to control key areas of the board, such as the center or the corners, not to mention to attack the opponent's pieces.

If the queen is captured, it is typically game over for the player who lost the piece, as the queen is such a powerful force.