• Ashley Yan

A guide to every chess piece

In chess, there are six different pieces: the pawn, knight, bishop, rook, queen, and king. Each piece has its strengths and weaknesses, and it would be helpful to know the best way to activate each piece. Below is a brief guide to each chess piece with videos/resources for practice.


Although the pawn is only worth 1 point, it can be worth as much as 9 points after it promotes. An ideal pawn controls the center or has a clear path to promotion (passed pawn). Ideally, it would be best if you avoided isolated pawns and double/triple pawns, but in some cases, they can be strong as well.



The knight is worth 3 points and is generally the strongest in closed positions. Also, knights work very well with queens since they both control different squares and have different ways of moving. Some common strategies for knights are to create outposts--squares where enemy pawns cannot attack the knight--and forks.



Like the knight, the bishop is also worth 3 points, except it is strongest in open positions. Bishops work very well in pairs; a common strategy is to keep both colored bishops in order to maintain the "two-bishop advantage." Ideally, to activate bishops, it would be best to open up the position and create long, unblocked diagonals for them to control.



The rook is worth 5 points and is strongest when controlling open files. Some common strategies for activating rooks are creating batteries, making rook lifts, and controlling the 7th rank. It may be best to learn batteries first, which is one of the most popular tactics in chess. When the rooks are also paired with the queen, they create "Alekhine's gun."



The queen, being worth 9 points, is the strongest piece. However, it's also important to keep the queen safe at times to protect it from less valuable pieces. At other times, the queen is active by attacking the enemy king and weak/hanging pieces. It's best if the queen works together with other pieces as it's not as strong by itself.



Since it cannot be captured, the king isn't really worth anything, and it should not be activated until the endgame. A basic rule in chess is to castle the king and keep it safe throughout the opening and middlegame. Once most pieces are traded off, it's best to use the king to help promote pawns in the endgame. It may also be helpful to learn chess endgames, such as the pawn, rook, and queen endgame.