Proper Chess Board Setup – Quick and Easy Guide

Proper Chess Board Setup - Quick and Easy Guide

Proper Chess Board Setup - Quick and Easy Guide

Setting your chess board up properly is the key to learning how to play chess. Each chess piece will need to begin in its respective position so that you learn to play the game correctly. The worst thing you can do is set up a chess board incorrectly.

Incorrectly setting up your chess board means that one or all of the pieces will begin in the wrong position, ultimately causing you to move them to another likely incorrect position.

Even worse, incorrectly setting up your chess board can give your opponent the advantage over you, sequentially causing you to have a major disadvantage and even lose.

After today, you will always know the proper chess board setup to learn the best moves to master the game of chess.

The Chess Pieces

Before we get started, it’s important for you to understand your chess board’s different components.

The chess board includes the board and the pieces that will be placed onto the board. There will be two different colors of chess pieces. They are usually white and black, but some special edition chess boards can have other variations of colors.

Each color will have the following number and types of chess piece:

  • 8 pawns
  • 2 rooks
  • 2 knights
  • 2 bishops
  • 1 queen
  • 1 king


Pawns are the smallest of all the chess pieces, and they are also the most abundant. Pawns can only move one space forward unless it is the first move of the game or overtake an opponent’s piece.


Rooks are shaped like a cylindrical castle tower. Rooks can only move in horizontal or vertical lines.


Knights are easy to remember because they look like a horse. Knights can only move in L-shaped patterns. This is easy to remember by counting two vertical or horizontal spaces out from the knight and then counting one space left or right to make your move.


Bishops are slightly taller than knights and have a top that looks similar to the bishop’s hat. Bishops can only move diagonally on a board.


The queen is often considered the most important piece because it can move virtually in every direction. It can move diagonally, vertically, and horizontally. The only direction that the queen cannot move is in the L-shaped direction that the knight can move. Once the queen is captured, it can be hard to play an offensive game, especially if you have very few pieces left.


The King is the determining factor for winning or losing. Once the King is overtaken, the match is over. Kings can only move in one-space increments at a time, making them easy to overcome if backed into a corner.

Each chess piece will have to be properly set up on your chess board, and each piece can only move in the direction it is allowed; but first, you need to know how to properly set up your chess board.

The Quick and Easy Guide to Properly Setting Up Your Chess Board

Step 1: Board Placement

The first step to proper chessboard setup is in the placement of the board. The pieces can be set up correctly, but it completely negates the purpose if the board is improperly positioned.

Your chess board will have to be positioned with the white or light-colored square in the board’s bottom right-hand corner. You can also remember this as the “white on right” rule of thumb where each white square will need to be to the right of the black or darker colored square.

Step 2: Place Your Pawns

The pawns are the small chess pieces, and there will be eight (8) of them in both white and black pieces, or dark and light. Each pawn will go in each square on the second row of the board.

Placing each pawn in their respective square will remove them from the remaining chess pieces and make it easy for you to set up the rest of the board.

Step 3: Place Your Rooks

Next, you will need to place your rooks on the corners of the board. There will be two rooks in each color, one for each opponent. Each rook will be placed on the corners of the board, symbolic of the direction in which they can move. Rooks can only move in a horizontal or vertical line, so it is only appropriate that they begin the game at the corners of the board.

Step 4: Place Your Knights

The knights are placed next to the rooks. An easy way to remember this is that you will need to store your horses (knights) in each castle (rooks). This will help you remember that your knights will be placed next to each rook on your board.

Step 5: Place Your Bishops

Your bishops are there to separate the King and queen from the knights. Another easy way to remember how to set this up is to recognize that the horses (knights) will need to stay away from the royal family (King and queen), and the bishop is here to do just that.

Step 6: Place Your Queen

This part is extremely important. At this point, you will have two squares left open that will need to be filled. The squares will be in the middle of the first row with one black square and one light square.

The queen will need to be placed onto the same colored square that she is. This means that if you are using white chess pieces, then your queen will need to be placed onto the open white square. If you are using the black chess pieces, you will need to place your queen onto the black square.

The queen will always need to be placed onto the square that is the same color as she.

Step 7: Place Your King

Finally, you will place your King onto the last remaining square on the board. Your King should always be on a square that is different from his own color. If you are using white chess pieces, then your King should be on a black square. If you are using black chess pieces, then your King should be on a white square. The King should always be between the queen and the bishop.

Understanding the Layout of Your Chess Board

Vertical and horizontal rows define the layout of the chess board. The vertical rows are called files, and the horizontal rows are called ranks. The files are identified by the letters a through h, with each letter representing one square. The ranks are identified by the numbers 1 through 8, with each letter representing one square.

The white pieces of the chess set will always take up ranks 1 and 2, while the black pieces will take up ranks 7 and 8. This helps players identify which chess piece is located in which square, especially once the chess game gets started.

The chess player with the white pieces will always go first. The only piece that can move from an original chess board setup is one of the pawns or a knight.

The pawns can move because there is no other white piece obstructing them from moving forward. The pawn can also choose to move forward two squares or just one.

The knights can also move first because they jump two spaces forward and one space to the right or left when making a move. This allows the knight to jump over the row of pawns in front of them.

Study the Moves and Understand the Importance of Each Chess Piece

Once you have set up the proper chess board, you need to study each chess piece’s moves. This will significantly help you make the right moves during a match.

Studying the moves also means that you need to understand how important each chess piece is.

Pawns are important because there is an abundance of them, and they can be sacrificed in situations to lure your opponent but be careful. It can be easy to quickly sacrifice all of your pawns by being too aggressive too soon. Pawns are important for both protection and aggression, so make sure you use these pieces wisely.

You should also remember that moving your queen vertically, horizontally, and diagonally can be as dangerous as it can be advantageous. You can easily take over an opponent’s chess piece from virtually any direction. Unfortunately, this can mean taking over a chess piece at a distance that will leave you vulnerable to being taken over as well.

You must familiarize yourself with the moves that each chess piece can make and why some moves are better than others.

Give Your Chess Board One Last Look Before Starting

If you are getting ready to begin your chess match, you should look at your board before the first move is made.

Make sure the color of the square in the bottom right corner of the board is white. This is the first step to ensuring that your chess board has been properly set up.

Also, make sure that the white chess pieces mirror the black chess pieces. This is another guarantee that your chess board has been set up properly.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The best way to guarantee that you set up your chess board properly each time is by practicing and understanding all chess rules. You should practice the proper chess board setup by laying out the board in the correct position and then placing each chess piece in its respective square, starting with the pawns first. Placing the pawns on the second row in front of you will remove the pawns from the collection of chess pieces, allowing you to set the remainder of the board up quickly and easily.


Whether you are playing chess for fun or competing in a chess match, you will need to properly set up your chess board. This will make sure that you begin the chess game with the proper chess board setup for an aggressive and advantageous starting point.


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