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Chess pieces: Names, Values and Moves

chess pieces

In this article, we are going to be having a look at the chess pieces, their common names, how they move on the chessboard, and their individual chess piece values.

Every beginner in chess should be able to understand these concepts to advance further in chess.

chess pieces

Chess Pieces

A chess piece is any of the 32 movable objects found on a chessboard and used to play the game of chess. In a standard chess game, each player begins the game with the following 16 pieces:

  • King (1)
  • Queen (1)
  • Bishops (2)
  • Knights (2)
  • Rooks (2)
  • Pawns (8)

The chess pieces all have their corresponding notations: The King is represented by the capital letter “K”, The Queen is given as “Q”, Knights as ” N”, Bishops as “B”, Rooks as ” R”.

Pawns are represented by the coordinates on the chessboard.

Chess Pieces Moves

chess pieces movements
Next, we would have a look at how these chess pieces move on the chessboard. It’s worth noting that every chess piece captures according to the way they move.


chess pieces king
The king moves exactly one square horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.

This also means that the king can only move one square at a time.


The rook moves horizontally or vertically, through any number of unoccupied squares.

For easy recall, the rook can be associated with the symbol “+” i.e. it moves in a plus manner.


A bishop moves any number of vacant squares in any diagonal direction.

On the chessboard, there are two bishops, known as the light-squared bishop (LSB) and dark-squared bishop( DSB).

The LSB moves on light squares in a diagonal manner while the DSB moves on dark squares in a diagonal manner.

The bishops can be associated with the “X” symbol as it moves in an “X” way.


The queen moves any number of vacant squares in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal direction.

The queen is popularly known as the strongest piece on the chessboard and has the combined power of the rook and bishop.

However, be aware that the queen can not move over any obstructing piece, the same applies to the bishop and rook.


Knights are very tricky chess pieces as they move in an unconventional manner.

A knight moves to the nearest square, not on the same rank, file, or diagonal.

A way of explaining is this is that the knights move two squares horizontally then one square vertically, or they move one square horizontally then two squares vertically, all done in an “L” pattern.

Knights are also the only chess pieces that jump over other chess pieces.


Pawns are like the foot soldiers in a chess game.

A pawn moves straight forward one square if that square is vacant.

If it has not yet made its first move, it also has the option of moving two squares straight forward, provided both squares are vacant.

Pawns capture other chess pieces by moving just one square ahead in a diagonal manner.

Pawns are the only chess pieces that cannot move backward.

chess piece

Chess Pieces Values

Every chess piece on the board has its respective strength and weaknesses due to its distinct movements on the chessboard.

In a way to understand these strengths and weaknesses, the concept of chess pieces values came up.

As a beginner or learner in chess, it is important to know the “value” each piece has so that you can know when to retain such a piece or exchange it.

Let’s have a look at the relative value of every single piece:

  • The pawn is worth 1 point
  • The bishop is worth 3 points
  • The knight is worth 3 points
  • The rook is worth 5 points
  • The queen is worth 9 points

From the guide above, we can extract some observations:

All things being equal, Two rooks are slightly better than a queen, three pawns are roughly equal to a bishop, and two bishops are far better than a single rook.

Because whoever checkmates the opponent’s king immediately wins the game, it is said that the king has infinite value.

Basic chess terms

  1. Capture: When piece A captures piece B, piece B is taken out of the board, and piece A replaces piece B on that square.
  2. Check: The only piece that the “Check” rule applies to is the king. When an opponent piece checks your king, it means that your king is in the path of the piece hence your king can
    only do three things:
    – Move away from the check
    – Block the check
    – Capture the piece checking the king.
  3. Checkmate: When your king can’t do the three things listed above, we say that the king is checkmated.“Checkmate” and “mate” are being used interchangeably.
  4. En passant (taking a pawn “In passing”): When the opponent’s pawn moves forwards two squares, you may capture it as if it moved only one square, but only on the very next move.
    However, En passant can only be done by a white pawn on the 5th rank (it will end up on the 6th) or by a black pawn on the 4th rank (it will end up on the 3rd).
  5. Castling: Castling is a legal move that involves taking the king off the middle of the board and tucking it in a safe square either on the kingside or queenside.