How to Set Up a Chessboard the Right Way

Guides / By Andrew Hercules
how to set up a chess board

Chess is played on a board with eight columns called files, each containing eight squares, and eight rows, or ranks, also containing eight squares. So in total, there are 64 squares on every chessboard. You need to set up the pieces in their correct positions before you start. In this post, we will discuss how to set up a chessboard properly!

How To Set Up A Chessboard? 

Here are the 8 steps to set up the chessboard for each side:

  1. Place the board such that the bottom white square faces the right side
  2. Place the rooks in the two corners of the chessboard (a1 and and h1 squares for white)
  3. Place the knights next to the rooks (b1 and g1 squares)
  4. Place the bishops next to the knights (c1 and f1 squares)
  5. Place the queen on the d1 square (the square is the same color of the queen)
  6. Place the king on the e1 square next to the queen (the square is the opposite color of the king)
  7. Place all your eight pawns on the second rank.
  8. Do the same setup for the Black player

Step 1 – Setting The Board

The first step in setting up the chessboard is to correctly position the pieces. You have to begin by first setting the board so that the bottom white square faces the right side. This means that both players will have white squares in the right corner of the board.

Your pieces are set up on the two horizontal rows that are closest to you (on the bottom side). Unlike a game of checkers, chess will use all the squares on the board.

There must be a white square at the bottom right corner 

Setting up the chessboard

Step 2 – Setting the Rooks

The next step is to place a rook (also called a castle) on the two corners of the board. Make sure that you start with the rooks, which are easy to identify as tall pieces that move only in straight lines.

Setting up the chessboard: rooks

Step 3 – Setting the Knights

Once you have placed the rooks on the edges, place the knights (which have horse heads) beside them. Remember that knights can move a total of three squares, but they can only move in an “L” shape. They can also jump over other pieces.

Setting up the chessboard: knights

Step 4 – Setting the Bishops

After placing the knights, place the bishops immediately next to them. While setting the pieces, keep moving towards the center of the board. Place the round-headed, tall bishops next to the knights. Bishops can only move diagonally.

While placing the bishops, check to ensure that one is on a black square, and the other is sitting on the white square.

Setting up the chessboard: bishops

Step 5 – Setting the Queen

Now, if you are playing white, place your queen on the remaining white square (do the reverse if you are playing black). The queen, as the tallest piece, is easy to identify. She also has a spiked crown on her head. She is the most valuable piece in the game.

Setting up the chessboard: queen

Step 6 – Setting the King

On the last square remaining square of the first row, place the king. The king is the tallest piece. It has a rounded crown with a raised cross. Once you have placed the king, your entire first row is ready (this row is known as the rank).

The king can move in any direction, but only once square at a time. This means that you have to make sure that other pieces surround and protect it.

Setting up the chessboard: king

Step 7 – Setting the Pawns

Lastly, you place all the pawns on the second row. They stand arrayed in front of the other chess pieces. Pawns move forward only one space at a time. However, on the first move, they can move two spaces. Once you have placed all the pawns, your board is set and complete!

Setting up the chessboard: pawns

How The Board Works?

On the chessboard, the squares are 1.25, and the size of the king’s base is 1.3 (approx. 65mm). Squares with a size of 57mm are usually ideal for pieces in this age range. The darker squares on the chessboard can vary from black to dark green, or brown the lighter colored squares can either be white or off-white in color.

Click the link to see a review of the top 10 chess boards >>see best luxury wooden chess sets<<

Although most chessboards have standard white and black squares, you can also find special ones made from black and red squares. Though this looks attractive, most players have said that these colors tend to strain eyes during a play.

For tournaments, special chess boards are made, which means they are built right into gaming tables. Like a standard chessboard, the squares must have the right dimensions, and they should have adequate spaces or borders to place countdown timers and all captured chess pieces.

Most boards have coordinates printed on the sides, which show the algebraic notations for the squares. These come in handy for both amateur and professional players, giving an idea of which square each piece moves on to. These days, the most common choice among all players is the vinyl rollup board.

Andrew Hercules

Hercules Chess, launched in 2020, is a website that teaches you about chess. We started as a chess blog and became a chess training platform in early 2022.

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