Holding the Cards

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Can Bishops Move Backwards in Chess? Bishop FAQ

If you’re new to chess, some questions might come up around the bishop’s abilities. Here are some commonly asked questions about their movement. We’ll start with the title question about whether bishops can move backwards.

Can Bishops Move Backwards in Chess?

Yes. Bishops can move diagonally forward or backward on their own color squares. They can’t move directly forward and backward like the king, queen and rook.

How Does a Bishop Move?

Bishops move and capture enemy pieces diagonally on their own color squares. When the pieces are set up, one bishop is on a light square and one is on a dark square. Each bishop stays on its own color squares for the whole game.

Can Bishops Move Backwards in Chess
The bishop moves along the open diagonal of a single color. This bishop started the game on a light square, so it stays on the light squares for the whole game.

Can Bishops Jump?

No. Bishops can’t jump their own pieces or enemy pieces. They can only move along the open diagonal of their color.

How Many Spaces Can a Bishop Move?

The bishop can move as many squares as are open on their diagonal. The farthest a bishop can move in one turn is from one corner of the board to the diagonally opposite corner. It can only do this if all the spaces in between are clear.

If a bishop reaches the edge of the board it has to stop. If it’s blocked by a friendly piece it has to stop. If it’s blocked by an enemy piece it can stop next to it, or it can capture the piece and take its square.

Can a Bishop Checkmate a King?

Yes. A bishop can check or checkmate the enemy king. Every piece on the board is capable of checking or checkmating except the king. However, a bishop with no other pieces (except the king, of course) can’t checkmate by itself. It needs support from other pieces.

Can a Bishop Capture a Queen, Rook, Bishop, Knight or Pawn?

Yes to all. A bishop can capture any enemy piece on the board except the king, which can only be placed in check or checkmate.

Can a Bishop Become a Queen, or Turn Into Any Other Piece?

No. The bishop always stays a bishop. It can’t be turned into any other piece.

Can a Bishop Take Two Pieces in One Move?

No. No chess piece, including the bishop, can capture two pieces on a single move. When the bishop runs into an enemy piece, it captures that piece and then stops. That’s the end of the turn.

I hope this answered whether bishops move backwards in chess and cleared up any confusion you had around the bishop’s movement.

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