Holding the Cards

Games & Cards

Chess Board Setup & Proper Chess Board Orientation

Until you get used to the chess board setup, there’s always a little bit of confusion, usually around the board’s orientation and the position of the queens.

Chess Board Orientation

The first thing to do is orient the board properly. The square on the right side next to each player must be light or white. Light on the right

Chess Board SetupChess board Orientation
Chess Board Orientation

As you can see from the above picture, the player at the bottom of the board has a light square on the right side, and the player at the top of the board also has a light square on their right side.

Chess Board Setup

Now we can start the chess board setup. Here’s the breakdown for the row closest to the player:

  • Rooks go on the ends
  • Knights are next to the rooks
  • Bishops are next to the knights
  • For the 2 remaining middle squares, the king goes on the square of the opposite color and the queen goes on the square of the same color. Queen on color

The second row for each player is all pawns. The set up board looks like this:

Chess Board SetupChess board Orientation
Some things to notice: there’s a light square on each player’s right, the kings and queens are directly across from each other, the light queen is on a light square, the dark queen is on a dark square, the white king is on your right side, the black king is on your left side (if you’re behind the black pieces).

Chess Board Setup: The King and Queen Positions

There’s sometimes confusion around the position of the kings and queens. I think this is because the correct position feels different from white to black.

When you’re playing the white pieces, the king is on your right side. When playing the black pieces, the king is on your left side. This feels odd if you’re not used to playing the black pieces as much. This probably accounts for the tendency to switch the positions of the black king and queen.

When the pieces are set up properly, each side is a mirror image of the other. Directly across from your king is your opponent’s king, and your queen is directly across from your opponent’s queen.

You’re all ready to start. White always moves first. Enjoy!

Chess Board Setup Reminders

Most chess board setup problems can be solved by remembering these two things:

  • Light on the right
  • Queen on color

I hope this has cleared up any confusion you had about chess board setup and proper chess board orientation.

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