How do Chess Pieces Move?

Chess Pieces Movement
Hand moving the queen chess piece

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Now that you know how to set up a chess board, you’re asking yourself, how do these pieces move?

We’ll show you how.

Moving the Pawn

Pawns can only move one space forward unless it’s their first move – then, they can move two squares (or one square, if that’s all you want).

When you move a pawn, you make a permanent change because the rules of chess do not permit pawns to move backward.

The pawn moves one or two squares forward on its first move
The pawn moves one or two squares forward on its first move

Pawns have an unusual way of capturing opponents’ pieces.

Normally, to capture an opponent’s piece, you move your piece to the square where the opponent’s piece is, replacing it with your own.

Pawns do the same, but they don’t capture via the direction of their move. They capture only diagonally.

Pawns capture diagonally
Pawns capture diagonally

En passant (from the French term for “while passing”) is one of chess’s special rules. If your pawn moves two squares on its first move and it lands to the side of an enemy pawn, the enemy pawn can capture your pawn diagonally.

En passant in action
En passant in action

Pawns can be promoted. When you move a pawn to the opposite side of the board, you can promote it into any piece except the king. You can have another queen if you so desire.

We recommend these resources for further study:

Moving the Knight

The Knight is a unique piece that moves in an “L” shape.

This means that the Knight can move two squares in any direction vertically followed by one square horizontally or two squares in any direction horizontally followed by one square vertically.

How the Knight moves
How the Knight moves

In addition, the Knight is the only piece in the game of chess that can jump over the other pieces when it moves.

We recommend these resources for further study:

Moving The Bishop

Bishop Movement
Bishop Movement

The Bishop moves only diagonally on its colour. That is, the light-squared bishop moves only on light squares and the dark-squared bishop moves on dark squares.

The Bishop is considered to be equal in value to a Knight, though many chess writers give the bishop a small edge.

The Bishop’s weakness is its limit to squares of one color throughout the game.

This restriction hurts the effectiveness of a single bishop, but two bishops working together can cut through an opponent like a pair of scissors. As a team, they are powerful indeed.

We recommend these resources for further study:

Moving The Rook

Rook movement

The Rook is regarded as a piece that can move in a straight line, forwards and backward through any square on the board that isn’t occupied by another piece.

The Rook is also one of two pieces involved in a special move called castling.

We recommend these resources for further study:

Moving the Queen

Queen movement
Queen movement

The queen can move any amount of squares in any direction (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally).

The queen is the combination of a rook and the two bishops.

The queen’s movement makes it the most powerful piece on the chessboard.

We recommend these resources for further study:

Moving the King

King Movement
King Movement

The King is the most important piece on the board simply because the game ends if the king is defeated or “checkmated”.

Like the queen, the King can move in any direction, but it’s limited to one square per move. It can move horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.

You can move your king anywhere on the board except to squares occupied by your pieces or that of your opponents.

This is true for all other chess pieces and pawns because no two pieces can occupy the same square.

We recommend these resources for further study:

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