Chess Board Setup Guide:
Part of the Beginner's Chess Guide (Section 1)
Now you're familiar with the pieces, this guide will show you what goes where.
For simplicity's sake, I'm going to show the setup in order of relative value - from Pawns (1) to Kings (arguably invaluable).
But, before dashing ahead with dropping the pieces on the board, you need to know the setup of the Board itself...
- Right Way Up! -
If you should see someone setting up the board with the black square in the bottom-right corner, calmly forget your manners and tell them in no uncertain terms they're just stupidly wrong ...
Unless you're teaching a child, then you'd best resort to screaming and shouting till you get your way - it's how all kids ruthlessly work.
Failing that, just turn the board around so there's a white square in the bottom-right hand corner.
Your Pawns go in a line one row infront of either end-row on the board.
If you imagine a battlefield, the commoners - the Pawns - are the fighters on the front-line; they're usually first into the fray, unless the goodly sir Knight breaks rank and hops over the top, without so much as a "by-your-leave".
Your Knights go with the other higher-value pieces on the back-rows, respectively, one square in from each corner of the board.
The Bishops go on the back-rows, respectively, one square inside of the Knights.
When all pieces are set up, you'll see how one Bishop each is on the outside of the Queen and King - in days of olde, the Bishops would be their advisors and be close by, while the Knights would be protectors, but slightly on the outside of matters of the court, so on the outside flanks of the Bishops.
"Castles that can move, eh?" - I suppose if you're a King with a good Tax system and have yet to give Sub-Prime Mortgages a go, anything's possible...
Symbolically, the castle walls would be on the outside, to protect the noblility within ... So, the Rooks take their place on the corner squares of the board.
The reason Rooks are Castle Turret shaped is because the Turret is where you'd find Seige Cannons, which could blast out at the enemy from long distances - hence the Rook's generous range of movement.
With the white square in the bottom-right hand corner, and two square-spaces remaining at both ends of the board, the two Queens face each other on the left-hand side.
Knowing it's just the two Kings to fill the remaining spaces, respectively, can you see how the board is divided equally into two, with 4 Pawns, 1 Knight, 1 Bishop, and 1 Rook on the Queen's side and the same on the King's side.
Later on, when speaking about moves, you may hear reference to "Queen-side Pawn" or "King-side Rook" ... now you'll be aware of what the heck it means.
And, if you hadn't already decided to completely ignore this guide and set the board up in a different order, you'd complete the setup like so:
Place the Kings, facing each other, on the remaining squares, right side of the board ... (As always, white square is in the bottom right-hand corner of the board).
Click here for a summary of the Chess Board Layout, plus a few extra snippets of Chess Board Setup related goodness.
Perhaps you'd like to try our semi-interactive Chessboard Setup Guide
From this guide about the Chess Board Setup,
Return to the Beginners Chess Guide (Section 1)