Chess Board Setup

The starting chess board has White pieces at one end, and Black pieces at the other end. Each player has 2 rows of pieces, with the pawns in the front row, and the bigger pieces all along the back row.

Diagram: Starting Chess Board

How Many Pieces?

There are 32 pieces on the starting board (16 pieces for each side) and there are 8x8=64 squares on the board. Each player has 8 pawns (the smaller pieces in the front row) plus 8 bigger pieces (2 Rooks, 2 Knights, 2 Bishops, 1 Queen, 1 King).

Where do the Pieces Go?

Rooks go into all four corners of the board. The Knights go next to the Rooks. The Bishops go next to the Knights (closer to the center of the board).

The King and Queen go into the middle two squares right in front of each player as they face their side of the board. It is important to get the King and Queen the right way around. For White, the King is on the right, assuming you are facing the board from the White side. For Black, it is reversed with the King on the left of the Black Queen (facing the board from the Black side).

Chess Board Setup Mistakes

Common mistakes in board setup include:

  • King and Queen around the wrong way: the Black and White Queen should be on the same vertical file. The Kings should be on the same file. For White side pieces, the King is on the right, and the Queen on the left. For the Black side, it is the opposite: the King is on the left, and the Queen is on the right.
  • Knights and Bishops swapped around: the Knights need to be next to the Rooks, not the Bishops.
  • Square colors wrong: the right-hand-side corner square is supposed to be a “light square” (“white color square”). This is true for both players: “light square on the right”. This doesn’t matter as much as having the pieces in the right place, but it is important to get it right as you start playing more advanced chess.