Chess piece

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Chess pieces vary in both value and abilities. A standard chess match consists of each player having the following equipment:

Additional queens, rooks, bishops or knights may be produced by the promotion of pawns (so in theory a player may have up to nine queens, ten rooks, ten bishops, or ten knights).

One side is referred to as "White" and the other as "Black" (see White and Black in chess). To distinguish between the two, the black pieces are darker than the white pieces. The Staunton chess set is the standard style for tournament or casual play. Besides these standard pieces, there exist many chess variants or certain kinds of chess problems that call for non-standard fairy pieces.

The word piece has three meanings, depending on the context. First, in casual use, it may mean any of the physical pieces of the set, including any of the pawns. Second, it may be used to exclude pawns, referring only to a queen, rook, bishop, or knight, and perhaps also the king. (In this case, the general term for piece or pawn is man.) Third, it may refer only to a minor piece (a bishop or knight). The context should make the intended meaning clear (Burgess 2000:478), (Hooper & Whyld 1992).


Movement of the pieces

Each piece moves in a different way.

  • The rook moves any number of vacant squares along rows or columns (forward, backward, left or right). It also is involved (with the king) in the special move called castling.
  • The bishop moves any number of vacant squares diagonally. Consequently a bishop stays on squares of the same color throughout a game.
  • The queen moves any number of vacant squares in any direction along a row, column, or diagonal.
  • The king moves only one vacant square in any direction. It can also castle in conjunction with a rook.
  • The knight moves to a vacant square in an "L"-shape (two spaces forward, backward, left, or right and one space perpendicular to it). The knight can jump over other pieces when moving.
  • The pawn can only move forward one space, or optionally two spaces when on its starting square, in a straight line away from the player. When there is an enemy piece one square diagonally ahead from the pawn (either left or right), then the pawn may capture that piece. A pawn can perform a special type of capture of an enemy pawn called en passant. If the pawn reaches a back rank of the opposite player, it undergoes promotion to the player's choice of a rook, bishop, queen or knight (Just & Burg 2003:13–16).

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