Chess piece

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Original Staunton chess pieces, left to right: pawn, rook, knight, bishop, queen, and king
Chess pieces
Chess kdt45.svgChess klt45.svg King
Chess qdt45.svgChess qlt45.svg Queen
Chess rdt45.svgChess rlt45.svg Rook
Chess bdt45.svgChess blt45.svg Bishop
Chess ndt45.svgChess nlt45.svg Knight
Chess pdt45.svgChess plt45.svg Pawn

Chess pieces, or chessmen, are the pieces deployed on a chessboard for playing the game of chess. The pieces vary in how they move on the board, giving them different values in the game. For a standard chess game each player starts with:

One player is referred to as "White" and the other as "Black" (see White and Black in chess). To distinguish between the two, the black pieces are darker than the white pieces. Their colors need not be black and white, but will each normally be a uniform color. The Staunton chess set is the standard style for tournament or casual play. There are many chess variants and certain kinds of chess problems that call for non-standard fairy pieces, although these are not popular and the vast majority of games are played with a standard chess set.

Terminology[edit]

In chess, the word "piece" has three meanings, depending on the context.

  1. It may mean any of the physical pieces of the set, including the pawns. When used this way, "piece" is synonymous with "chessman" (Hooper & Whyld 1992:307) or simply "man" (Hooper & Whyld 1987:200).
  2. In play, the term is usually used to exclude pawns, referring only to a queen, rook, bishop, knight, or king. In this context, the pieces can be broken down into three groups: major pieces (queen and rook), minor pieces (bishop and knight), and the king (Brace 1977:220).
  3. In phrases such as "winning a piece", "losing a piece" or "sacrificing a piece", it refers only to a bishop or knight. The queen, rook, and pawn are specified by name in these cases, for example, "winning a queen", "losing a rook", or "sacrificing a pawn" (Just & Burg 2003:5).

The context should make the intended meaning clear (Burgess 2009:523) (Hooper & Whyld 1992:307).

Moves of the pieces[edit]

a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Chess starting position. Squares are referenced using algebraic notation.

Each piece type moves in a different way.

  • The rook moves any number of vacant squares forwards, backwards, left, or right in a straight line. It also takes part, along with the king, in a special move called castling.
  • The bishop moves any number of vacant squares diagonally in a straight line. Consequently, a bishop stays on squares of the same color throughout a game. The two bishops each player starts with move on squares of opposite colors.
  • The queen moves any number of vacant squares in any direction: forwards, backwards, left, right, or diagonally, in a straight line.
  • The king moves exactly one vacant square in any direction: forwards, backwards, left, right, or diagonally. It can also castle in conjunction with a rook.
  • The knight moves on an extended diagonal from one corner of any 2×3 rectangle of squares to the furthest opposite corner. Consequently, the knight alternates its square color each time it moves. The knight is the only piece that jumps over any intervening piece(s) when moving (castling being the only special instance in which pieces jump over one another).
  • The pawn moves forward exactly one space, or optionally, two spaces when on its starting square, toward the opponent's side of the board. When there is an enemy piece one square diagonally ahead of the pawn, either left or right, then the pawn may capture that piece. A pawn can perform a special type of capture of an enemy pawn called en passant. If the pawn reaches a square on the back rank of the opponent, it promotes to the player's choice of a queen, rook, bishop, or knight (Just & Burg 2003:13–16).

Pieces other than pawns capture in the same way that they move. A capturing piece replaces the opponent piece on its square, except for an en passant capture. Captured pieces are immediately removed from the game. A square may hold only one piece at any given time. Except for castling and the knight's move, no piece may jump over another piece (Just & Burg 2003:13–16).

Chess sets[edit]

A St. George style set

Table sets[edit]

The variety of designs available is broad, from small cosmetic changes to highly abstract representations, to themed designs such as those that emulate the drawings from the works of Lewis Carroll, or modern treatments such as Star Trek or The Simpsons. Themed designs are generally intended for display purposes rather than actual play (Hooper & Whyld 1992:76). Some works of art are designs of chess sets, such as the modernist chess set by chess enthusiast and dadaist Man Ray, that is on display in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.[1]

Chess pieces used for play are usually figurines that are taller than they are wide. For example, a set of pieces designed for a chessboard with 2.25 inches (57 mm) squares typically have a king around 3.75 inches (95 mm) tall. Chess sets are available in a variety of designs, with the most well-known Staunton design, named after Howard Staunton, a 19th-century English chess player, and designed by Nathaniel Cook. The first Staunton style sets were made in 1849 by Jaques of London (also known as John Jaques of London and Jaques and Son of London) (Just & Burg 2003:225).

Staunton pieces made of rosewood
Staunton pieces made of plastic

Wooden White chess pieces are normally made of a light wood, boxwood, or sometimes maple. Black wooden pieces are made of a dark wood such as rosewood, ebony, red sandalwood, or walnut. Sometimes they are made of boxwood and stained or painted black, brown, or red. Plastic white pieces are made of white or off-white plastic, and plastic black pieces are made of black or red plastic. Sometimes other materials are used, such as bone, ivory, or a composite material (Just & Burg 2003:224,226).

Staunton chess pieces on chess board with chess clock

For actual play, pieces of the Staunton chess set design are standard. The height of the king should be between 3.35 to 4.13 inches (85 to 105 millimetres). United States Chess Federation rules call for a king height between 3.375 and 4.5 inches (86 to 114 mm). A height of about 3.75 to 4 inches (95 to 102 millimetres) is preferred by most players. The diameter of the king should be 40–50% of its height. The size of the other pieces should be in proportion to the king. The pieces should be well balanced. The length of the sides of the squares of the chessboard should be about 1.25–1.3 times the diameter of the base of the king, or 2 to 2.5 inches (51 to 64 millimetres). Squares of about 2.25 inches (57 mm) are normally well suited for pieces with the kings in the preferred size range. These criteria are from the United States Chess Federation's Official Rules of Chess, which is based on the Fédération Internationale des Échecs rules (Just & Burg 2003:224–27).

The Grandmaster Larry Evans offered this advice on buying a set (Evans 1973:18):

Make sure the one you buy is easy on the eye, felt-based, and heavy (weighted). The men should be constructed so they don't come apart. ... The regulation board used by the U. S. Chess Federation is green and buff—never red and black. However, there are several good inlaid wood boards on the market. ... Avoid cheap equipment. Chess offers a lifetime of enjoyment for just a few dollars well spent at the outset.

Pocket and travel sets[edit]

Some small magnetic sets, designed to be compact and/or for travel, have pieces more like those used in shogi and xiangqi – each piece being a similar flat token, with a symbol printed on it to identify the piece type.

Computer images[edit]

On computers, chess pieces are often 2D symbols on a 2D board, although some programs have 3D graphics engines with more traditional designs of chess pieces.

Unicode contains symbols for chess pieces in both white and black.

Relative value[edit]

The value assigned to a piece attempts to represent the potential strength of the piece in the game. As the game develops, the relative values of the pieces will also change. A bishop positioned to control long, open diagonal spaces is usually more valuable than a knight stuck in a corner. Similar ideas apply to placing rooks on open files and knights on active, central squares. The standard valuation is one point for a pawn, three points for a knight or bishop, five points for a rook, and nine points for a queen (Hooper & Whyld 1992:438–39). These values are general throughout a game; in specific circumstances the values may be quite different—a knight can be more valuable than a queen in a particular decisive attack.

Piece names[edit]

Language King Queen Rook Bishop Knight Pawn Chess Check Checkmate
figurine ♔ ♚ ♕ ♛ ♖ ♜ ♗ ♝ ♘ ♞ ♙ ♟ ... + #
Afrikaans K Koning D Dame (lady) T Toring (tower) L Loper (runner) R Ruiter (rider) (P) Pion Skaak Skaak Skaakmat
Albanian M Mbreti Msh Mbretëresha (queen) Ku Kulla (tower) O Oficeri (officer) Ka Kali (horse) (U) Ushtari (soldier) Shahu Shah Shah mat
Arabic م مَلِك
malik : king
و وزير
wazïr : vizier
ر رخ/طابية
rukhkh / ṭābiya : bishop
ف فيل
fīl : elephant
ح حصان
ħiṣān : horse
ب بيدق/عسكري
baidaq : pawn / `askarī : soldier
شطرنج
shaṭranj
كِش مَلِك
kish malik
كِش مات
kish māt
Armenian Ա
Արքա
A : Arka
Թ
Թագուհի
T : T'agowhi
Ն
Նավակ
N : Navak
Փ
Փիղ
P : P'igh
Ձ
Ձի
Dz : Dzi
Զ
Զինվոր
Z : Zinvor
Շախմատ(Ճատրակ)
Shaxmat (Chatrak)
Շախ
Shax
Մատ
Mat
Basque E Erregea D Dama G Gaztelua A Alfila Z Zaldula (P) Peoia Xake Xake Xake mate
Belarusian К кароль Вз візыр Лд ладзьдзя А афіцэр В вершнік (Л) латнік Шахматы Шах Мат
Bengali R রাজা
Raja
M মন্ত্রী
Montri
N নৌকা
Nouka
H গজ/হাতি
Goj/Hati
G ঘোড়া
Ghora
B বোড়া/সৈন্য/পেয়াদা
Bora/Sainya/Peyada
দাবা (daba) কিস্তি
kisti
কিস্তিমাৎ
kistimat
Bulgarian Ц цар (king) Д дама (lady) Т топ (cannon) О офицер (officer) К кон (horse) (П) пешка Шахмат/Шах Шах (Шах и) мат
Catalan R rei D dama/reina (lady/queen) T torre (tower) A alfil C cavall (horse) (P) peó Escacs Escac/Xec Escac i mat
Chinese K
(Wáng, king)
Q
(Hòu, queen)
R
(, chariot)
B
(Xiàng, elephant)
N
(, horse)
(P)
(Bīng, soldier)
國際象棋
(Guójì Xiàngqí)
將軍
(Jiāngjūn, general)
將死
(Jiāngsǐ, checkmate)
Croatian K kralj (king) D dama/kraljica (lady/queen) T top/kula (cannon/turret) L lovac/laufer (hunter) S skakač/konj (jumper/horse) (P) pješak/pijun (foot soldier/pawn) Šah Šah Šah mat
Czech K král (king) D dáma (lady) V věž (tower) S střelec (shooter) J jezdec (rider) (P) pěšec (foot soldier) Šachy Šach Mat
Danish K konge (king) D dronning (queen) T tårn (tower) L løber (runner) S springer (jumper) (B) bonde (peasant) Skak Skak Skakmat
Dutch K koning (king) D dame/koningin (lady/queen) T toren/kasteel (tower/castle) L loper/raadsheer (runner/counsellor) P paard (horse) (pi) pion Schaken Schaak Mat/Schaakmat
English K king Q queen R rook B bishop N/Kt knight (P) pawn Chess Check Checkmate
Esperanto R reĝo (king) D damo (lady) T turo (tower) K kuriero (courier) Ĉ ĉevalo (horse) (P) peono Ŝako Ŝak Ŝakmato
Estonian K kuningas (king) L lipp V vanker O oda R ratsu (E) ettur Male Tuli Matt
Finnish K kuningas (king) D daami/kuningatar (lady/queen) T torni (tower) L lähetti (messenger) R ratsu (horse) (S) sotilas (soldier) Shakki Shakki Matti/Shakkimatti
French R roi (king) D dame (lady) T tour (tower) F fou (jester) C cavalier (rider) (P) pion Échecs Échec Échec et mat
Georgian
მეფე
(Mep'e)

ლაზიერი
(Lazieri)

ეტლი
(Etli)

კუ
(Ku)

მხედარი
(Mkhedari)

პაიკი
(Paiki)
ჭადრაკი (Čadraki) ქიში
K'ishi
შამათი
Shamat'i
German K König (king) D Dame (lady) T Turm (tower) L Läufer (runner) S Springer/Pferd (jumper/horse) (B) Bauer (peasant) Schach Schach Matt/Schachmatt
Greek Ρ βασιλιάς Β βασίλισσα Π πύργος Α αξιωματικός Ι ίππος (Σ) πιόνι Σκάκι Σαχ Mάτ
Hebrew מ מלך מה מלכה צ צריח ר רץ פ פרש רגלי שחמט שח מט
Hindi R राजा
rājā (king)
V वज़ीर
vazīr (vizir)
H हाथी
hāthī (elephant)
O ऊँट
ūṁṭ (camel)
G घोड़ा
ghoṛā (horse)
(P) प्यादा
pyādā (infantryman)
शतरंज
Shatranj
शाह
shāh
शाहमात
shāhmāt
Hungarian K király (king) V vezér/királynõ (commander/queen) B bástya (bastion) F futó (runner) H huszár/ló (hussar/horse) (Gy) gyalog/paraszt (footman/peasant) Sakk Sakk Matt
Icelandic K kóngur (king) D drottning (queen) H hrókur B biskup (bishop) R riddari (knight) (P) peð Skák Skák Skák og mát
Indonesian R raja (king) M menteri (minister/vizier) B benteng (castle/fortress) G gajah (elephant) K kuda (horse) (P) pion Catur Skak Skak mati
Irish R rí (king) B banríon (queen) C caiseal (bulwark) E easpag (bishop) D ridire (knight) (F) fichillín/ceithearnach Ficheall Sáinn Marbhsháinn
Italian R re (king) D donna (lady) T torre (tower) A alfiere C cavallo (horse) (P) pedone Scacchi Scacco Scacco matto
Japanese K キング (kingu) Q クイーン (kuīn) R ルーク (rūku) B ビショップ (bishoppu) N ナイト (naito) (P) ポーン (pōn) チェス (chesu) 王手/
チェック (chekku)
詰み/
チェックメイト (chekkumeito)
Korean K 킹 (king) Q 퀸 (kwin) R 룩 (rug) B 비숍 (bi syob) N 나이트 (na i teu) (P) 폰 (pon) 체스 (ce seu) 체크 (ce keu) 체크메이트 (ce keu me i teu)
Latin R rex G regina T turris E episcopus Q eques (P) pedes Scacci Scaccus Mattus
Latvian K karalis D dāma T tornis L laidnis Z zirgs (B) bandinieks Šahs Šahs Šahs un mats
Lithuanian K karalius V valdovė B bokštas R rikis Ž žirgas (P) pėstininkas Šachmatai Šach Matas
Luxembourgish K kinnek D damm T tuerm (tower) L leefer (runner) P päerd (horse) (B) bauer (farmer) Schach Schach Schachmatt
Malayalam K രാജാവ്
rajavu
Q മന്ത്രി
manthri
R തേര്
theru
B ആന
anaa
N/Kt കുതിര
kuthira
(P) കാലാള്‍/പടയാളി
kalal / padayali
ചതുരംഗം
chathurangam
ചെക്ക്
check
ചെക്ക് മേറ്റ്
check mate
Marathi R राजा
rājā
V वज़ीर
vajīr
H हत्ती
hātti
O उंट
Uant
G घोड़ा
ghoda
(P) प्यादे
pyāde
बुद्धिबळ
buddhibal
शह
shāh
शहमात
shāhmāt
Mongolian Н ноён (lord) Б бэрс (ferz) т тэрэг (chariot) Т тэмээ (camel) М морь (rider) (Х) хүү (paige) Шатар шаг, дуг, цод мад
Norwegian K konge D dronning T tårn L løper S springer (B) bonde Sjakk Sjakk Sjakkmatt
Persian ش شاه و وزیر ق/ر قلعه/رخ ف فیل ا اسب س سرباز شطرنج کیش کیش‌مات
Polish K król H hetman W wieża G goniec S skoczek (P) pion szachy szach mat (szach-mat / szach i mat)
Portuguese R rei (king) D dama/rainha (lady/queen) T torre (tower) B bispo (bishop) C cavalo (horse) (P) peão Xadrez Xeque Xeque-mate
Romanian R rege D regină T turn N nebun C cal (P) pion Şah Şah Mat
Russian Кр король (king) Ф ферзь/королева (from Persian vizier/queen) Л ладья/тура (boat/siege tower) С слон/офицер (elephant/officer) К конь (horse) (П) пешка Шахматы Шах Мат
Serbian К краљ / kralj Д дама / dama Т топ / top Л ловац / lovac С скакач / skakač (П) пешак / pešak Шах / Šah Шах / Šah Мат / Mat
Sicilian R re D riggina T turru A alferu S scecchu (P) pidinu Scacchi
Slovak K kráľ D dáma V veža S strelec J jazdec (P) pešiak Šach Šach Mat/Šachmat
Slovene K kralj D dama T trdnjava L lovec S skakač (P) kmet Šah Šah Mat/Šahmat
Spanish R rey (king) D dama/reina (lady/queen) T torre (tower) A alfil (elephant, in Arabic) C caballo (horse) (P) peón Ajedrez Jaque Jaque mate
Swedish K kung D dam/drottning (lady/queen) T torn (tower) L löpare (runner) S springare/häst (horse) (B) bonde (peasant) Schack Schack Schack matt
Tamil K அரசன்
arasaṉ
Q அரசி
arasi
R கோட்டை
kōṭṭai
B அமைச்சர் / மந்திரி
amaicchar / manthiri
N/Kt குதிரை
kuthirai
(P) காலாள் / சிப்பாய்
kālāḷ / cippāy
சதுரங்கம்
sathurankam
முற்றுகை
muṟṟukai
இறுதி முற்றுகை
iṟuti muṟṟukai
Telugu రాజు
rāju
మంత్రి
maṃtri
ఏనుగు
ēnugu
శకటు
śakaţu
గుర్రం
gurraṃ
బంటు
baṃţu
చదరంగం
cadaraṃgaṃ
దాడి
dāḍi
కట్టు
kaţţu
Thai ขุน
(khun, king)
เม็ด (ตรี/มนตรี)
(met (trī/montrī), counselor)
เรือ
(reūa, ship)
โคน
(khōn, elephant)
ม้า
(, horse)
(บ) เบี้ย
(bīa, menial)
หมากรุก
(mākruk)
รุก
(ruk, invade)
จน
(jon, checkmate)
Turkish Ş/K şah/kral V vezir K kale F fil A at (P) er/piyon Satranç Şah Mat
Ukrainian король Ф ферзь T тура C слон K кінь (П) пішак Шахи Шах Мат
Urdu بادشاہ
bādshāh
وزیر
vazīr
رخ
rukh
فيلہ
fiyalah
گھوڑا
ghōṛā
پیادہ
pyādah
شطرنج
šaṭranj
شہ
sheh
شہمات
shehmāt
Vietnamese V Vua H Hậu X Xe T Tượng M _ Tốt Cờ vua Chiếu Chiếu bí/Chiếu hết
Welsh T teyrn/brenin B brenhines C castell E esgob M marchog (G) gwerinwr Gwyddbwyll Siach Siachmat

(Luiro 2009)

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]