Chess piece

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Original Staunton chess pieces
Left to right: pawn, rook, knight, bishop, queen, king

A chess piece, or chessman, is any of the six different types of movable objects used on a chessboard to play the game of chess.

Number of pieces[edit]

Chess pieces
Chess klt45.svgChess kdt45.svg
King
Chess qlt45.svgChess qdt45.svg
Queen
Chess rlt45.svgChess rdt45.svg
Rook
Chess blt45.svgChess bdt45.svg
Bishop
Chess nlt45.svgChess ndt45.svg
Knight
Chess plt45.svgChess pdt45.svg
Pawn

Each player begins with a total of sixteen pieces (but see the subsection below for other usage of the term piece). The pieces that belong to each player are distinguished by color. The lighter colored pieces are referred to as "white," and the player that owns them, "White". The darker colored pieces are referred to as "black", and the player that owns them, "Black".

In a standard game, each of the two players begins with the following sixteen pieces:

Usage of the term piece[edit]

The word "piece" has three meanings, depending on the context. Context should make the intended meaning clear (Burgess 2009:523) (Hooper & Whyld 1992:307).

  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). Chess sets have been made in a variety of styles, sometimes for decorative or artistic purposes rather than practical play, but the Staunton pattern is standard for competition.
  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 rooks), minor pieces (bishops and knights), and the king.(Brace 1977:220)
  3. In phrases such as "winning a piece", "losing a piece" or "sacrificing a piece" and other related contexts, it refers only to minor pieces (bishops or knights). By convention, the queen, rooks, and pawns are specified by name in these cases – for example, "winning a queen", "losing a rook", or "sacrificing a pawn".(Just & Burg 2003:5)

Moves of the pieces[edit]

abcdefgh
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
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Chess starting position. Squares are referenced using algebraic notation.

The rules of chess prescribe the types of move a player can make with each type of chess piece. Each piece type moves in a different way. During play, the players take turns moving one of their own chess pieces.

  • A 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.
  • A 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; however, it cannot move to a square that is under attack by an opponent, nor can a player make a move with another piece if it will leave the king in check. It also has a special move called castling, in which the king moves two squares towards one of its own rooks and in the same move, the rook jumps over the king to land on the square on the king's other side. Castling may only be performed if the king and rook involved have never previously been moved in the game, if the king is not in check, if the king would not travel through or into check, and if there are no pieces between the rook and the king.
  • A knight moves on an extended diagonal from one corner of any two-by-three rectangle of squares to the farthest opposite corner. Consequently, the knight alternates its square color each time it moves. Other than the castling move described above where the rook jumps over the king, the knight is the only piece permitted to routinely jump over any intervening piece(s) when moving.
  • A pawn moves forward exactly one square, or optionally, two squares when on its starting square, toward the opponent's side of the board. When there is an enemy piece one square diagonally ahead of a 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 ("in passing"). 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, except for castling. A capturing piece replaces the opponent piece on its square, except for an en passant capture by a pawn. 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).

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 reliable in endgames, particularly with a limited number of pieces. But these values can change dramatically depending on the position, the phase of the game (opening, middle game, endings). A bishop pair for example, is worth a half a pawn on average (Soltis 2004:183). In specific circumstances, the values may be quite different: a knight can be more valuable than a queen in a particular decisive attack.

Illustration of chess pieces used in Courier chess by Gustav Selenus from the book "Das Schach-Oder Königs-Spiel" (1616). Depicted are the king, queen, rook, archer (or bishop), knight, pawn (or soldier), courier, man (or rath or sage), and jester.

Historical illustration[edit]

Courier Chess, a predecessor of modern chess, used all six modern chess piece types, plus three additional types of pieces:

  • A courier
  • A mann (or rath or sage)
  • A jester.

Piece names[edit]

The characters implied by pieces' names vary between languages. For example, in many languages, the piece known in English as the "knight" frequently translates as "horse", and the English "bishop" frequently translates as "elephant".

Language King Queen Rook Bishop Knight Pawn Chess Check Checkmate/Mate
figurine ♔ ♚ ♕ ♛ ♖ ♜ ♗ ♝ ♘ ♞ ♙ ♟ N/A + # or ++
Afrikaans K Koning
king
D Dame
lady
T Toring
tower
L Loper
runner
R Ruiter
rider
(P) Pion
Skaak Skaak Skaakmat
Albanian M Mbreti
king
D Dama / Mbretëresha
lady / queen
T Torra
tower
F Fili / Oficeri
elephant / officer
K Kali
horse
(U) Ushtari
soldier
Shahu Shah Shah mat
Arabic م مَلِك (malik)
king
و وزير (wazïr)
vizier
ر رخ / طابية (rukhkh / ṭābiya)
fortress / castle
ف فيل (fīl)
elephant
ح حصان (ħiṣān)
horse
ب بيدق / عسكري (baidaq / `askarī)
pawn / soldier
شطرنج (shaṭranj) كِش مَلِك (kish malik) كِش مات (kish māt)
Azerbaijani Ş Şah
shah
V Vəzir
vizier
T Top
cannon
F Fil
elephant
A At
horse
P Piyada
foot soldier
Şahmat şah
shah
mat
mat
Armenian Ա Արքա (Ark῾a)
king
Թ Թագուհի (T῾agowhi)
queen
Ն Նավակ (Navak)
ship
Փ Փիղ (P῾ił)
elephant
Ձ Ձի (Dzi)
horse
Զ Զինվոր (Zinvor)
soldier
Շախմատ (Šaxmat)
Ճատրակ (Čatrak)
Շախ (Šax) Մատ (Mat)
Basque E Erregea
king
D Dama
lady
G Gaztelua
castle
A Alfila
Z Zalduna
knight
(P) Peoia
pawn
Xake Xake Xake mate
Belarusian (Taraškievica) К кароль
king
Вз візыр
vizier
Лд ладзьдзя
rook
А афіцэр
officer
В вершнік
rider
(Л) латнік
pawn
Шахматы Шах Мат
Bengali R রাজা (Raja)
king
M মন্ত্রী (Montri)
minister
N নৌকা (Nouka)
boat
H গজ / হাতি (Goj / Hati)
elephant
G ঘোড়া (Ghora)
horse
B বোড়া / সৈন্য / পেয়াদা (Bora / Sainya / Peyada)
viper / troop / walker
দাবা (daba) কিস্তি (kisti) কিস্তিমাত (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 (jū)
chariot
B (xiàng)
elephant
N (mǎ)
horse
(P) (bīng)
soldier
國際象棋 (guójì xiàngqí)
international chess
將軍 (jiāngjūn)
general
將死 (jiāngsǐ)
general dead
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
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, castle
B bishop
N knight
(P) pawn
Chess Check Checkmate / Mate
Esperanto R reĝo
king
D damo
lady
T turo
tower
K kuriero
courier
Ĉ ĉevalo
horse
(P) peono
Ŝako Ŝak Ŝakmato
Estonian[1] K kuningas
king
L lipp
flag
V vanker
chariot / carriage
O oda
spear
R ratsu
riding horse
(E) ettur
forwarder
Male
after malev
Tuli / Šahh
fire
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 მფ მეფე (mep'e)
king
ლაზიერი (lazieri)
queen
ეტლი (etli)
chariot
კუ (ku)
tortoise
მხედარი (mkhedari)
rider
პაიკი (paiki)
pawn
ჭადრაკი (Čadraki) ქიში (K'ishi) შამათი (Shamat'i)
German[2] K König
king
D Dame
lady / queen
T Turm
tower
L Läufer
runner
S Springer
jumper
(B) Bauer
peasant
Schach Schach Matt / Schachmatt
Greek Ρ βασιλιάς (vasiliás)
king
Β βασίλισσα (vasílissa)
queen
Π πύργος (pýrgos)
tower
Α αξιωματικός (axiomatikós)
officer
Ι ίππος (íppos)
horse
(Σ) πιόνι (pióni)
pawn
Σκάκι (Skáki) Σαχ (Sach) Mατ (Mat)
Hindi R राजा (rājā)
king
V वज़ीर (vazīr)
vizier
H हाथी (hāthī)
elephant
O ऊँट (ūṁṭ)
camel
G घोड़ा (ghoṛā)
horse
(P) प्यादा (pyādā)
infantryman
शतरंज (Shatranj) शाह (Shāh) शाहमात (Shāhmāt)
Hebrew מ מלך (Melech)
king
מה מלכה (Malka)
queen
צ צריח (Tzariach)
tower
ר רץ (Ratz)
runner
פ פרש (Parash)
rider
רגלי (Regli)
foot soldier
שחמט (Shakhmat) שח (Shakh) מט (Mat)
Hausa S sarki
king
Q sarauniya
queen
R sansanin
fortress
G giwa
elephant
J jarumi
mounted warrior
(P) soja
soldier
ces ceki ceki mat
Hungarian K király
king
V vezér / királynő
vizier / 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
rook
B biskup
bishop
R riddari
knight
(P) peð
pawn
Skák Skák Skák og mát
Ido R rejo
king
D damo
lady
T turmo
tower
E episkopo
bishop
K kavalo
horse
(P) piono
Shakoludo Shako Shakmato
Indonesian R raja
king
M menteri
minister / vizier
B benteng
castle / fortress
G gajah
elephant
K kuda
horse
(P) pion
Catur Sekak / Ster Sekakmat
Interslavic K kralj
king
C carica / dama
empress / lady
Z zamok / věža
castle / tower
L lovec
hunter
J jezdec / konj
rider / horse
(P) pěšak
infantryman
Šahy Šah Mat
Irish R
king
B banríon
queen
C caiseal
bulwark
E easpag
bishop
D ridire
knight
(F) fichillín / ceithearnach
little chess piece / kern
Ficheall Sáinn Marbhsháinn
Italian R re
king
D donna / regina
lady / queen
T torre
tower
A alfiere
standard-bearer
C cavallo
horse
(P) pedone
foot soldier
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 (ōte) /
チェック (chekku)
詰み (tsumi) /
チェックメイト (chekkumeito)
Javanese R raja
king
Q ratu / perdhana mentri
queen / prime minister
B bèntèng
fortress
M mentri
minister
K jaran
horse
(P) pion
sekak
Kannada ರಾ ರಾಜ (raaja)
king
ಮಂತ್ರಿ (mantri)
minister
ಆನೆ (aane)
elephant
ರಥ (ratha)
chariot
ಕು ಕುದುರೆ (kudure)
horse
ಪಾ ಪಾದಾತಿ (paadaati)
foot sodier
Kazakh Кр патша (patsha)
king
У уәзір (wazir)
vizier
Т тура (tura)
tower
П піл (pil)
elephant
А ат (at)
horse
(П) пешка (peshka) / (С) сарбаз (sarbaz)
foot soldier / warrior
шахмат (shakhmat) шах (shakh) мат (mat)
Korean K 킹 (king)
Q 퀸 (kwin)
R 룩 (rug)
B 비숍 (bi syob)
N 나이트 (na i teu)
(P) 폰 (pon)
체스 (che seu) 체크 (che keu) 체크메이트 (che keu me i teu)
Latin rex
king
regina
queen
turris / elephas
tower / elephant[3]
signifer / cursor / stultus / alphinus
standard-bearer / messenger / fool[3]
eques
knight
pedes / pedo
foot soldier
Scacci Scaccus Mattus
Latvian K karalis
king
D dāma
lady
T tornis
tower
L laidnis
Z zirgs
horse
(B) bandinieks
peasant
Šahs Šahs Šahs un mats
Lithuanian K karalius
king
V valdovė
queen
B bokštas
tower
R rikis
Lithuanian military commander
Ž žirgas
horse
(P) pėstininkas
pawn
Šachmatai Šach Matas
Lojban Na noltrunau
king
Ni noltruni'u
queen
S slanydi'u
castle
X xanto
elephant
Xi xirma
horse
(S) sonci
soldier
caxmati gunta
attack
lo nolraitru cu morsi
the king is dead
Luxembourgish K Kinnek
king
D Damm
lady
T Tuerm
tower
L Leefer
runner
P Päerd
horse
(B) Bauer
farmer
Schach Schach Schachmatt
Macedonian K крал
king
D кралица / дама
queen / lady
T топ
cannon
L ловец
hunter
S коњ
horse
P пешак / пион
infantryman / pawn
шах шах мат
Malayalam K രാജാവ് (rajavu)
king
Q മന്ത്രി (manthri)
minister
R തേര് (theru)
chariot
B ആന (anaa)
elephant
N/Kt കുതിര (kuthira)
horse
(P) കാലാള്‍ / പടയാളി
(kalal / padayali)
foot soldier
ചതുരംഗം (chathurangam) ചെക്ക്
ചെക്ക് മേറ്റ്
Marathi R राजा (rājā)
king
V वजीर (vajīr)
vizier
H हत्ती (hātti)
elephant
O उंट (Unṭ)
camel
G घोडा (ghoḍā)
horse
(P) प्यादे (pyāde)
foot soldier
बुद्धिबळ (buddhibal) शह (shāh) शहमात (shāhmāt)
Mongolian Н ноён
noyan
Б бэрс (fers)
vizier
т тэрэг (tereg)
chariot
Т тэмээ (temee)
camel
М морь (mor)
rider
(Х) хүү (hüü)
infantryman
Шатар шаг / дуг / цод мад
Norwegian Bokmål K konge
king
D dronning
queen
T tårn
tower
L løper
runner
S springer
jumper
(B) bonde
peasant
Sjakk Sjakk Sjakkmatt
Norwegian Nynorsk K konge
king
D dronning
queen
T tårn
tower
L løpar
runner
S springar
jumper
(B) bonde
peasant
Sjakk Sjakk Sjakkmatt
Persian ش شاه
king
و وزیر
vizier / minister
ق/ر قلعه/رخ
castle
ف فیل
elephant
ا اسب
horse
س سرباز
soldier
شطرنج کیش (kish) مات (mat)
Polish K król
king
H hetman
W wieża
tower
G goniec
courier
S skoczek
jumper
(P) pion
pawn
szachy szach mat / szach-mat
Portuguese R rei
king
D dama / rainha
lady / queen
T torre
tower
B bispo
bishop
C cavalo
horse
(P) peão
foot soldier
Xadrez Xeque Xeque-mate
Romanian R rege
king
D damă / regină
lady / queen
T turn / tură
tower
N nebun
fool
C cal
horse
(P) pion
Șah Șah Mat / Șah mat
Russian Кр король (korol')
king
Ф ферзь (ferz')
vizier
Л ладья (ladya)
boat
С слон (slon)
elephant
К конь (kon')
horse
(П) пешка (peshka)
шахматы (shakhmaty) шах (shakh) мат (mat)
Scottish Gaelic R righ
king
B bànrigh
queen
T tùr
tower
E easbaig
bishop
D ridir
knight
(P) pàn
pawn
feòirne casg tul-chasg
Serbo-Croatian К краљ (kralj)
king
Д краљицa / дама (kraljica / dama)
queen / lady
Т топ (top)
cannon
Л ловац (lovac)
hunter
С скaкaч / коњ (skakač / konj)
jumper / horse
(П) пешак / пион (pešak / pion)
pedestrian / pawn
Шах (Šah) Шах (Šah) Мат (Mat)
Northern Sotho К Kgoši
Kg Kgošigadi
N Ntlosebô / Moshate
Mp Mopišopo
M Mogale
S Seitšhireletšo
Tšhêšê Check Checkmate
Sicilian R re
king
D riggina
queen
T turru
tower
A alferu
S scecc[h]u
donkey
(P) pidinu
foot soldier
Scacchi
Slovak K kráľ
king
D dáma
lady
V veža
tower
S strelec
shooter
J jazdec
horseman
(P) pešiak
infantryman / pawn
Šach Šach Mat / Šachmat
Slovene K kralj
king
D dama
lady
T trdnjava
castle
L lovec
hunter
S skakač
jumper
(P) kmet
farmer
Šah Šah Mat / Šahmat
Spanish R rey
king
D dama / reina
lady / queen
T torre
tower
A alfil
C caballo
horse
(P) peón
foot soldier
Ajedrez Jaque Jaque mate
Swedish K kung
king
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)
king
Q அரசி (araci)
queen
R கோட்டை (kōṭṭai)
castle
B அமைச்சர் / மந்திரி (amaicchar / manthiri)
minister
N/Kt குதிரை (kutirai)
horse
(P) காலாள் / சிப்பாய் (kālāḷ / cippāy)
foot soldier / sepoy
சதுரங்கம் (sathurankam) முற்றுகை (muṟṟukai) இறுதி முற்றுகை (iṟuti muṟṟukai)
Telugu రాజు (rāju)
king
మంత్రి (maṃtri)
minister
ఏనుగు (ēnugu)
elephant
శకటు (śakaţu)
గుర్రం (gurraṃ)
horse
బంటు (baṃţu)
soldier
చదరంగం (cadaraṃgaṃ) దాడి (dāḍi) కట్టు (kaţţu)
Thai ขุน (khun)
king
เม็ด / ตรี / มนตรี (met / trī / montrī)
counselor
เรือ (reūa)
ship
โคน (khōn)
ม้า (mā)
horse
(บ) เบี้ย (bīa)
menial
หมากรุก (mākruk) รุก (ruk) จน (jon)
Turkish Ş/K şah / kral
shah / king
V vezir
vizier
K kale
castle
F fil
elephant
A at
horse
(P) er / piyon
soldier / pawn
Satranç Şah Mat
Ukrainian король (korol)
king
Ф ферзь (ferz)
vizier
T тура (tura)
tower
C слон (slon)
elephant
K кінь (kin)
horse
(П) пішак / пішка (pishak / pishka)
foot soldier
Шахи (shakhi) Шах (shakh) Мат (mat)
Urdu بادشاہ‎ (bādshāh)
وزیر‎ (vazīr)
رخ‎ (rukh)
فيلہ‎ (fiyalah)
گھوڑا‎ (ghōṛā)
پیادہ‎ (pyādah)
شطرنج‎ (šaṭranj) شہ‎ (sheh) شہمات‎ (shehmāt)
Vietnamese V vua
king
H hậu
queen
X xe
chariot
T tượng
statue
M
horse
tốt
soldier
Cờ vua Chiếu Chiếu bí / Chiếu hết / Hết cờ
Welsh T teyrn / brenin
lord / king
B brenhines
queen
C castell
castle
E esgob
bishop
M marchog
rider
(G) gwerinwr
peasant
Gwyddbwyll Siach Siachmat

(Luiro 2009)

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Estonian chess terms were coined by Ado Grenzstein.
  2. ^ "Handbook". www.fide.com. Retrieved 22 March 2019. The pieces bear the names: Koenig, Dame, Turm, Laeufer, Springer, Bauer
  3. ^ a b H. J. R. Murray, A History of Chess, ch. 11

References[edit]

External links[edit]