Chess Board Setup
If you have ever wondered “How do I set up a chess board?” this article is for you! Here you will learn how to set up a chess board and pieces correctly in order to play a game of chess under standard tournament rules (F.I.D.E).
This guide is for beginners and those new to chess. It shows the normal set up for over the board (OTB) play. Although every computer chess game will set up the board automatically at the start of a new game, it is still useful to know correct orientation of a chess board and where all the pieces should be placed, in order to play chess against human players in the sunshine (hopefully!), or at OTB tournaments.
Correct Chess Board Orientation
A chess board is made up of eight rows and eight columns of alternating light and dark colour squares. The squares are often black and white, but may also be other colours – shades of red, brown or green are common – or even be transparent if you are using a glass chess board! Whatever colour your chess board happens to be, it will have two contrasting light and dark colours. The most common colours for a chess board are black and white.
Correct orientation of a chess board is to have the corner square, on the right hand side nearest you in the light colour.
If this square is a dark colour then the board needs to be turned a quarter turn (90 degrees) in either direction. The reason that this is the correct orientation relates to placement of the queen and the ability to record games using standard chess notation.
A helpful mnemonic to remember this is: “Light to the right“.
By convention, when showing images or chess diagrams white/light pieces are usually shown at the bottom of the board and black/dark pieces are shown at the top.
How Many Pieces in a Chess Set?
A standard set of chess pieces contains 32 pieces, 16 light and 16 dark pieces, although some sets may have 34 pieces as they will include an extra queen of each colour.
A standard 32 piece chess set will have eight pawns, 1 queen, 1 king, 2 bishops, 2 knights and two rooks for a total of 16 pieces of each colour. Rooks are sometimes also known as “castles”.
Where do the Pieces Go?
Each chess piece has its own assigned place in a chess board setup. The easiest way to setup a board for play is to place the pawns first, followed by the major pieces. This avoids reaching over the pawns and perhaps knocking or moving them.
The lower yellow row show where the white pawns are set up. The top red row is where the black pawns would be, but are not shown for clarity.
The black queen faces the white queen from the opposite side of the board. She is similarly placed on a square of her own colour (the black square nearest the middle of the back rank).
The black and white kings are here shown on their own for clarity, but sit on the e file, next to the queen.
Each side has two bishops. A bishop sits next to the king or queen.
Bishops may thus be referred to as “Queens bishop” or “Kings bishop” depending upon their initial position. This designation also informs experienced players as to the colour of squares that the piece may move on.
Again each side has two knights. They are placed between the bishops and the last piece to be placed, the rooks.
Each player has two rooks and they are perhaps the easiest of pieces to place as they occupy the corners of the board.
I hope that you found this guide useful. Now the next time someone asks “How do you set up a chess board?” you can be confident that you know how to set up a chess board correctly.
Of course, if you use our online chess game here on here at computer chess online then setting up the board is simple as pressing “new game”! 🙂