Queens

The Queen is the strongest piece in chess. The Queen can move horizontally or vertically, and also diagonally. This gives the Queen the combined power of the Rook and Bishop. Queens can move forwards or backwards. Queens also cannot do the L-shape move of Knights, which means that a Queen can often get caught by a knight fork (or occasionally by a bishop pin or rook pin).

Pawn Promotion

Queens can be created by promoting pawns. Pawns that reach the last rank can be converted into Queens, called “pawn promotion”. You are allowed to have more than one queen, so in theory, you can have up to 9 total Queens in a game. In practice, games with 2 Queens are reasonably common, but not usually 3 or more.

Win the Queen

A lot of beginner games center around winning the other player’s Queen. This is a huge and game-winning advantage, although countless beginner games see-saw when the other player loses their Queen too. In intermediate and advanced chess games, losing a Queen is relatively rare, and usually significant enough to warrant a resignation.

Queen Value

The Queen is considered to be worth about 9 pawns. The Knight and Bishop are about 3 pawns, and the Rook is 5 pawns. So a Queen is usually worth more than a Rook-plus-Bishop or Rook-plus-Knight, but slightly less than 2 Rooks. In practice, these comparisons are not absolute and depend greatly on the pawn formations.

Queens can Attack or Defend

The Queen is a powerful attacking piece. If attacking, keep your Queen. If you are defending, try to swap off the Queens. Once the Queens are swapped off, the position is often called an endgame, although some endings where there are still two rooks and other minor pieces can still be middlegame-like (called “semi-endings” or “queenless middlegames”).

Queens are also useful defensive pieces. An often overlooked defensive method is simply to bring the Queen home next to the King.

Early Queen Forays

Although a great attacking piece, the Queen is usually best left at home for the early part of the game. It often comes under attack from Knights and Bishops if it strays too far from home. This means that the beginner plan or trying for checkmate with the Queen and Bishop (Scholar’s Mate) is not a good strategy against stronger players. Usually the Queen should be developed by only a single square, to make room for the Rook to come in behind her later.

Queen Endgames

Queen endings occur where each player has a King and Queen along with a few pawns. These endings are extremely complicated, with hugely long variations to consider. They also tend to be drawish endings because they can often end with perpetual check or infinite pursuit draws.

Related Chess Tactics

Read more about these related chess strategies: