Can Chess Pieces Move Backwards? 

Can Chess Pieces Move Backwards? 

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Almost everyone in the world knows about the game chess. There have been a few movies and TV shows even centered around the classic game. 

If you have never played before, the game can seem a little intimidating. 

Each piece moves across the board in its own way and is played very strategically. Once a piece has been captured is there a way to get it back? 

Is it played like checkers and none of the pieces move backward unless they have reached the other side of the board? 

Unlike checkers, the majority of pieces on the chessboard can move both forward and backward. The only exception to this is the pawn. 

The pawn is the only chess piece that can only move forward. As for all the other pieces, they do their specific moves of either forward or backward, side to side, diagonal, and even L-shaped. 

In the next section I will go into more detail about how exactly the chess pieces move around the board. 

To see the most popular chess sets just click here. 

How Does Each Chess Piece Move On The Board? 

Staring at a chessboard for the first time can be a bit overwhelming. You have 16 individual pieces that you are in control of. 

The pieces can be broken down into six different types of pieces that all move in their own separate ways. So just how does each chess piece move across the board? 


The King is the most important piece on the board. The King is located in the back row and sits next to his queen. Wearing a cross on its head, the King is the most valuable piece since the whole point of the game is to capture it. 

When the King is captured, the game is over. The King can only move one space, but it can move that single space in any direction. Once the King can no longer move anywhere without placing itself in checkmate, the game is over. 

It is impossible to on purpose place your King in check. 


The Queen is placed in the back row and begins in the center on her own color. (The white Queen begins on the light square and the black Queen begins on the dark square.) With a crown on its head, the Queen is the most powerful piece in chess. 

You only have one Queen, so make sure to sacrifice other pieces before the Queen. Always protect your Queen, but also make the most of all its moves. 

The Queen moves in any direction and can move as many spaces as needed. The Queen cannot jump any other pieces, but can capture any piece in its way. 

While you may think to keep the Queen close to the King, it can also help defend the King and keep it away from checkmate from many squares away. 


The Knight is unique in the way it moves. Each player begins with two Knights. The horse shaped pieces begin on either side of the Queen and King. 

The Knights movements may seem very strange, but can prove helpful once mastered. 

The Knight moves across the board in an L-shape and always moves three spaces. You can either move two spaces forward and one to the left/right or one forward and two to the left/right. As long as you are moving three spaces in an L-shape pattern, your Knight is good to conquer. 

The Knight can also move in the L-shape pattern backward. Even though the Knight may not be able to move very far, it is still a useful piece in defending your King. 


The Bishop should be considered a powerful piece on the chessboard. Though not as powerful as the Queen, the rounded helmet-looking piece with the slit in the middle is still a very valuable piece. 

Each player begins with two bishops and each begins in the space located next to the Knights. 

The Bishop can only move diagonally. They can capture any piece as long as it is within their diagonal pattern. 

One Bishop moves diagonally along the dark squares and the other along the light squares. Once you lose a Bishop, you can only move through half the board diagonally. 


The Rook is another one of your more valuable pieces on the board. Each player begins with two Rooks, tower pieces, and they begin in the back row, next to the Bishop, on the corners of the board. 

The Rooks movement is easy, they simply move either forward, backward, or sideways. The Rook cannot change its direction mid-turn, it can simply either move forward or backward on a turn or move sideways. 

The Rooks also cannot jump, but can capture any piece that’s in their path. 


The Pawns are not known to be the most powerful pieces, but they do make up half the chessboard. Each player begins with eight pawns and they are the first line of defense. 

The pawns are all set across the line in front of the King. Since Pawns don’t seem to move well, they are sometimes underestimated and can end up capturing some of the “more valuable” pieces. 

Pawns are unique, as on their first move they are allowed to move forward up to two spaces. Pawns can only move forward. 

After their first turn, each Pawn’s move is only one space forward. The Pawn cannot capture in the same direction it moves. You must move the Pawn diagonally in order to capture other pieces. 

If the pawn is able to reach the opponent’s back row it can take on the form of any piece that you like besides a king. So if you are able to get multiple pawns across the board you can actually have multiple queens in the game at once. 

Why Is The King So Weak In Chess? 

There have been many jokes made about why the King is so weak in chess. The King can only move one space at a time, but the Queen is free to go anywhere it pleases. 

The answer is actually quite simple. 

If the King were powerful, the game of chess would go on even longer than it already does. The King is dependent on the other pieces to protect it. 

If the King were more powerful, the game would end up being King against King. There would be no need for all the other pieces. 

While the King may be “weak” in the sense that it doesn’t move very far, there is a way to strengthen your King. In chess, the strength of the piece is determined by how many squares it can control. 

When the King starts off in the back of the board, it can only control its one space. However, once the pieces start moving and squares open up if the King hasn’t moved its strength is six. 

The King can gain the most strength by actually being exposed in the middle of the board. The King can have a strength of up to nine when in the center of the board. 

The absolute worst place for a King to be is in the corner of the board. The strength of the King diminishes greatly, down to a four. 

When it is in the corner it is also much more likely to get pinned down and put into checkmate. 

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