What are the names of the chess pieces?

The pieces are the most important part of learning chess. This article will explain everything about the pieces, including where they are located when a game starts, how they move and what their value is.

Let's get started!

What are the Chess Pieces?

When playing chess, the chess pieces are what you use to move around on a board. There are six types of chess pieces. Each side begins with 16 pieces: eight, two bishops and two knights. Let's get to know them!

The Pawn

Each side begins a game with eight pawns. White's pawns can be found on the second rank while Black's can be found on the seventh rank.

pawn starting position

The pawn, which is the weakest piece of the chess set, is worth one point. It can move one to two squares forward if it is a pawn making its first move. A pawn can only move one square forward if it has moved before. It attacks or captures each square diagonally to its left or right. The following diagram shows that the pawn just moved from the E2-square to the E4-square, and then attacks squares d5 & f5.

pawn captures attacks

The Bishop

Each side begins with two bishops: one on each square, and one on the dark square. White's bishops start a game on c1 or f1, while Black's are on c8 or f8.

bishops starting position

The bishop is a minor piece, similar to a knight and is worth three points. The bishop can move diagonally in as many squares it wants, provided it isn't blocked by any of its pieces or occupied squares. It can be easily remembered that a bishop moves in an "X" shape. It can capture an enemy square by moving to the square where it is situated.

bishop moves

The Knight

Each side begins with two knights, a king's knight or a queen's Knight. White's knights can be found on b1 or g1, while Black knights can be found on b8 or g8 when a game begins.

knights starting position

The knight is a minor piece, just like a bishop and is worth three points. The knight can leap over any other piece in chess. It moves one square horizontally and then two vertically. Or it moves two vertically. Alternatively speaking, the knight moves in an L-shape. The knight cannot capture what it lands on and not what it jumps across.

knight captures

The Rook

Each side begins with two rooks: one on each side's queenside and one for the kingside. The corners of the board are home to all four rooks. White's rooks begin the game on a1 or h1, while Black's are on a8 or h8.

rooks starting position

The rook, which is a major piece (like a queen), is worth five points. The rook can move horizontally as many times as it wants, and vertically as many times as it wishes. However, it must not be blocked by any other pieces. A simple way to understand how a rook moves is to think of it as a "+" sign.

rook moves captures

The Queen

The queen is the strongest chess piece. Each side begins a game with one queen. The black queen is on d8 and the white queen on d1.

queen starting position

The queen, which is a major piece (like the rook), is worth nine points. It can move horizontally as many times as it wants, and vertically as much as it wishes (like a rook). The queen can also move diagonally as many squares it wants (like a bishop). A quick way to recall how a queen moves is to think of it as a rook or a bishop.

queen moves

The King

The most important piece of chess is the king. Remember that the goal of chess games is to eliminate the king. Each side has one king when a game begins. White's king can be found on e1 while Black's starts on e8.

king starting position

The king is not an extremely powerful piece as it can only move or capture one square in any direction. The king can't be captured. It is called "check" when a king has been attacked.

king moves


Now you know where to place the pieces to start a game and how they move. Enjoy!