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Can Knights Move Backwards in Chess? FAQ

The knight is possibly the most confusing piece for those new to chess. If the board is set up and you’re ready to go but are a bit uncertain about the knight, this article will have your knights jumping around in no time.

The knight’s movement isn’t as straight forward as the other pieces. Instead of some kind of straight line, it moves in a pattern. Fortunately, it’s not complex, and you’ll soon start seeing the pattern all over the board. We’ll start with the title question: Can Knights Move Backwards in Chess?

Can Knights Move Backwards in Chess?

Yes. A knight can go backwards. The knight’s movement pattern goes forward, backward, right and left. They don’t move directly backwards in a straight or diagonal line.

How Does a Knight Move?

The knight moves in a 3 block “L” shape. Here’s what it looks like:

Can Knights Move Backwards in Chess
Can Knights Move Backwards in Chess?

The pictured knight can land on any of the squares with an arrow pointing at it. Assuming a knight isn’t near the edge of the board, it can reach 8 different squares—2 above, 2 below, 2 to the right and 2 to the left. Notice that the knight always lands on a square the opposite color of where it started.

Can you see the “L” shaped pattern? T o reach its final square, the knight moves 2 squares in a straight line—up, down, right or left—and then 1 square directly to the side, which can also be up, down, right or left depending on how the move started.

Another way of thinking of the knight’s movement pattern is as a group of 6 squares. The knight moves from one corner of a 6 square block to the diagonally opposite corner. Here’s a visual:

Can Knights Move Backwards in Chess

The blue box on top has 6 squares inside it. The knight is in the lower right corner of the box, so it will land on the upper left corner of the box. If this upper box was moved 1 square to the right, the knight would be in the lower left corner, so it will land on the upper right corner of the box.

The box on the right side shows this same 6 block pattern in another direction. The knight moves from one corner to the other one, diagonally.

8 different boxes like this can be pictured around the knight and its landing square. If this box explanation just confuses you more, feel free to ignore it. Just focus on the 3 block “L” shape.

Can a Knight Jump Its Own and Enemy Pieces?

Yes. The knight essentially jumps all the pieces between its starting square and landing square. It doesn’t matter if there are friendly or enemy pieces on any or all the squares in between, and it doesn’t matter what pieces they are.

How Far Can the Knight Jump?

The knight’s distance is fairly limited—it always ends up 3 squares away from where it started. It takes 4 moves for a knight to get from one end of the board to the other.

Can a Knight Capture a Queen or King?

The knight can take a queen and any other piece on the board, except the king. No piece can take the king, but the knight can put the king in check or checkmate.

I hope this has answered your question about whether a knight can move backwards in chess.

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