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How to Set Up a Chessboard


One of the important things a beginner in chess has to learn is how to properly set up a chessboard.

In as much as the beginner has to learn individual piece moves, learning how to set up a chessboard shouldn’t be an exception.


How to Set Up a Chessboard for Beginners

Many learners and beginners do not know how to set up the chessboard or they set up the chessboard incorrectly, If allowed to continue this way, they would be learning chess the wrong way which is why it is necessary for them to learn the chessboard setup.

The chessboard has 64 squares, consisting of alternating “light” and “dark” squares.

The horizontal rows are called “ranks,” and are numbered 1 through 8.

The vertical columns are called “files,” and are given letters a through h.

Taking a look at the chessboard layout, each square on the chessboard already has a given notation,  based on the rank and file to which the square belongs.

For example, a square on the fourth rank and the second row is known as the b4 square.

To start with, White usually sets up his pieces on the first and second ranks while Black sets up his pieces on the seventh and eighth ranks.

The second and seventh rank consists of a line of eight pawns on solitary squares.

Then the first and eighth rank consists of chess pieces such as the bishops, knights, rooks, queen, and king.

Chessboard Setup

In the initial position, each side has eight pawns, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, a queen, and a king arranged.

Note that the only pieces on either side which can initially move are the pawns and knights.


The chess pieces are arranged on the first and eighth rank in this manner: Rook, Knight, Bishop, Queen, King, Bishop, Knight, Rook while the second and seventh rank contain just pawns.

The following guidelines may help you remember and be sure of the placement of the pieces;

  1. It is important to note that that the bottom right-hand square is light-colored.
  2. One knight is placed next to each rook, be it for the white or black pieces.
  3. The white queen is placed on a white square while the black queen is placed on a dark square. Similarly, the white king goes on a dark square while the black king is placed on a white square.


When is a chess game said to be over?

Play continues to alternate between White and Black until one of the following outcomes is reached:

  • One player’s king is checkmated. When this happens, the game is said to be lost by that player.
  • In a competitive game, if one player runs out of time, the game is lost by that player.
  • One player resigns, which is equivalent to quitting the game. A player may resign on either his or his opponent’s turn. Resignation is often symbolized by the resigning player knocking down his king.
  • The player whose turn it is is in stalemate, meaning that he has no legal move and is not in check. The game is a draw.
  •  The players agree to draw the game. Either player may offer a draw to his opponent upon completion of his move. If the offer is accepted, the game is drawn. Draw offers can not be rescinded.
  • One of the players does not have sufficient pieces to checkmate the other by any legal sequence of moves. For example, having a king and a lone knight against the other king can’t result in checkmate in any way so the game is said to be drawn.
  • 50 moves have been played by each player since a piece was captured or a pawn moved hence resulting in a draw.