What Are The Most Important Pieces In Chess?

chess pieces

Many people know the hierarchy of chess pieces, but what are the most important chess pieces on the chessboard, and why are they so important? In this article, we will take a look at a few of the most valuable chess pieces in a game of chess, analyze why they are so vital to the game, and discuss what roles they play.

The King

chess pieces king

The king is undoubtedly the most important piece on the chessboard, even though it is one of the most limited in terms of movement. While the king can only move one space per turn in any direction, it is the most valuable piece in all of chess because it is the piece all of the others are defending. A game of chess can only be won when one of the two kings on the board is checkmated, which refers to the king being in a scenario where it can make no legal moves due to the attacking positions of an opponent’s pieces.

The importance of the king highlights a key distinction in the status of various chess pieces, which is the distinction between importance and value. While the king is the most important piece on the board, its value as a piece is relatively low, as it cannot move many spaces and is, therefore, less useful as a capturing piece than queens, rooks, knights, and bishops. Thus, most chess players move their kings very infrequently, doing so only to avoid attacks, and leave the capturing to other pieces. 

The Queen

chess pieces queen

The queen is the most important piece after the king, and is also the most valuable chess piece in terms of power. In chess, the queen can move in any direction, and can move as many open spaces as possible across the board, giving it immense attacking power. The queen’s range means that players will often go to great lengths to avoid sacrificing it, as losing the queen makes a player’s capturing ability much weaker. However, players are often counseled not to overlook the power of their queen by keeping it out of the game for too long, as this can allow the opponent time to clear an easy path by capturing many smaller pieces, making the queen’s job harder. In general, at the start of a chess match, the queen is considered to be worth two rooks, but is worth less than three knights or three bishops.

The Rooks

chess pieces rooks

The rook is often considered the next most-valuable piece after the king and queen, edging out the knight and bishop slightly at the beginning of the game. This is because the rook can move with almost as much freedom as the queen, though it is restricted to moving horizontally and vertically on the board. Rooks are often part of a player’s strategy in the middle of a chess game, as they are valuable for both offense and defense. They are generally considered to be worth as much as a knight or bishop, plus two pawns, though, in the endgame of a match, their value decreases slightly to about the same level as a knight or bishop.

Knights and Bishops

chess pieces knightschess pieces bishops

In general, knights and bishops are considered pieces of equivalent value early in a chess game, each being worth approximately three pawns. Some players consider bishops more valuable because they have the ability to move as many spaces as they wish, only being restricted to moving diagonally. However, most skilled chess players see the knight as equally valuable and even more useful than the bishop in certain situations, as the knight’s L-shaped movement pattern allows it to jump over pieces and make unique captures while also staying out of the line of attack of other pieces.

One important aspect to note involves the final, lowest-ranking piece on the chessboard, the pawn. While pawns are generally considered the least important or valuable pieces, only being able to move one square per turn in a forward direction, as a chess game lengthens, pawns become more valuable, especially if a player manages to retain them while capturing many of their opponent’s pieces. Leftover pawns become very valuable near the endgame of a chess match due to the possibility of pawn promotion, which allows a pawn to ascend to the rank of a stronger piece once it reaches the back row of the board from where it started. This makes pawns extremely valuable when they enter an opponent’s territory, as they can easily become another queen, rook, knight, or bishop and give a player a huge advantage.


While there are varying degrees of value and importance to the pieces on a chessboard, most skilled chess players will agree that the value of one’s pieces depends less upon their individual power and more on how one uses them in a game. Certain pieces may be stronger in chess, but an effective strategy that utilizes all of a player’s available pieces, rather than simply the most powerful ones, is the surest means of achieving victory.