How to Set Up the Board and Pieces
Before you start to play a game of chess, you obviously have to setup the
board and pieces, and they have to be setup the same way every time. Here is the
correct way to set up the board and pieces for play:
"Gee, Mr. Chessguy, that's looks awfully complicated!", you might
say. Well, its really not. Let's see if we can break it down into some
individual steps (and a couple of simple rules) that will make it really easy.
First lets look at the board by itself.
The board is 8 squares by 8 squares, for a total of 64 squares. There
IS a right way and a wrong way to set up the board. The rule to remember
here is that a light-colored square MUST go in your right hand corner, as
highlighted in yellow. Believe me, it DOES make a difference, as we'll
(By the way, some boards come with letters and numbers along the
outside edges, as I'm showing here. That has to do with something called
'chess notation', which we'll get into later down the road. But if your
board has these letters and numbers, you position it so that the letters face the players and the
numbers are along the right-hand and left-hand
sides. If you do that, then your right-hand corner square will be
Next, we'll get about half the job finished by setting up the pawns.
8 white pawns and 8 black pawns. They're simple. You just line them up on the
second and seventh rows. (8 squares, 8 pawns. Simple.)
See, I told you this was simple. You're already half way done.
(Also, notice the letters along the side of the board, if you've got
that kind of board. We placed the white pawns on the row with the '2', and
the black pawns on the '7' row. Again, that'll become more important later
on when we look at 'chess notation'. By the way, 'rows' are sometimes
called 'ranks', as in the 2nd rank and the 7th rank.)
Now lets handle the rooks. There are four of them, two white
rooks and two black rooks, and they
go into the four corners. Guess which colors go where....
Anyway, now we'll look at knights. There are four of them, as
well (two white and two black) and they get placed next to the rooks.
The bag of pieces is getting pretty empty, isn't it? Okay, now
we'll place the
bishops. Based on where the knights went, anyone care to guess where bishops go?
Now we're down to kings and queens and now lets go back to review when we
first unrolled the board and put it on the table. Remember I said the board had
to be placed so that square on your right-hand side was light, and not dark? Now
you'll see why, as we place the queens on the board.
The simple rule to remember here is 'queens are set up on their own color
squares'. By that, I mean the white queen starts on a white square
and the black queen starts on a black square. So since we've been
grouping the pieces together by color, where do you think the white queen would
go so that it sits on its own color?
And the black queen? Think about it now.... Black queen on a black
Now let's see, all we got left is a couple of kings. Anyone have any
ideas?..... Come on, now......
Guess what? You've set up the board and pieces. You're ready to play!
Practice this a few times, and it'll become second nature to you. You'll be able
to lay out a chess set without even thinking about it. And I'll let you in on a
little secret: just having gone through this exercise, you now know more about
chess than 75% of everyone else, everywhere!
(I'll also make you a bet that if you watch people playing chess in a movie
or on TV, many more times than not they'll have the pieces set up wrong and
don't even know it!)
Yeah, there're hoards of people out there who don't even know how to
set up a chess set correctly.
YOU know how, though, and that makes you