Learn How to Set up a Chess Board with Our Step-By-Step Guide

How do you set up a chess board?

This guide will teach you step-by-step to setup a chess board to it’s starting position, and give you easy to remember rules so you never forget! If you want to start playing chess for the very first time, the chessboard and all the pieces may look pretty complicated in the beginning, but don’t worry – the following article will help you with the very first steps into the world of chess!how to set up a chess board

Of course, as well as a chess board, you’ll need 32 pieces and sometimes even a chess clock.

To start a chess game, the players have to know how to set up a chessboard, to understand on which squares all of the pieces belong.

Here are the steps you need to follow in order to set up a chess board correctly: 

  • Step 1: Make sure the board is in the correct position.

Chess board starting position

The first step in setting up a chess board is positioning it. The chess board, normally, has letters and numbers, the players should always sit on the edge of the board with the letters. Make sure that the bottom-right corner is a light-colored square.

  • Step 2: The  Rooks go in the corners.

Where do the rooks go on a chessboard?

Rooks usually look like little towers in most styles of chess sets. These pieces go always in the corners, just like in a real fortified castle. If you look at the coordinates, it should be a1, h1, a8, and h8.

  • Step 3: The  Knights should always go next to the rooks.

Where do knights go on a chessboard?

Knights are next in line beside rooks when setting up a chess board. Knights usually depict a horse, just like a real knight would ride. Just remember – knights protect the towers of a castle. They move in an “L” shape. They are worth around 3 pawns and are especially useful at the start of the game due to their unique ability to hop over other pieces.

  • Step 4:  The Bishops go next to the knights. 

Order of rooks knight and bishops

Bishops are the third piece in line on the back row when setting up the chess board. Bishops move diagonally any number of unblocked squares. The bishop’s name will help you remember their position. A coronation of a real-life king or queen is usually handled by a religious figure, who puts the crown atop the new monarch’s head.

In chess, bishops are thought to be worth about 3 pawns. They are often active at the start of the game, but if they survive into the late game they gain additional power due to their long range.

  • Step 5:  The Queen always goes to a square of her own color.

Where do the pieces go on a chess board?

By now, there should be two squares left on the first row. The queen is placed on the color square that matches the player it represents, so the White queen goes on a light square and the Black queen goes on a dark square.

A good way to remember is that queens, being regal, naturally want their outfit to match their shoes. Queens can move any number of unblocked squares horizontally, vertically or diagonally – combining the powers of both a rook and a bishop. Queens are theoretically worth about 9 pawns.

  • Step 6:  The King goes on the last square remaining.

How To Set Up A Chess Board: Full Guide Step-by-step

Finally, there should be only one square left on the first row for each player. Put the king there. The king can move one square in any direction.

The ultimate objective of the game is to “checkmate” the opponent’s king, while not losing your own, therefore kings are worth more than all the other pieces on the board put together, even though they are not as strong in play. Your king must be saved at all costs!

  • Step 7: Place all the eight pawns on the second and seventh ranks in front of all the other pieces.

There are eight pawns of each color in a chess set. They are the smallest and least valuable piece. Every square on the second row should be filled with pawns of each color.

By putting the pawns on the board first, you will be able to identify the other pieces and complete the rest of the chess board setup steps more easily.

The following video also provides valuable information on how to set up a chess board:


Now you know how to setup a chess board! Maybe all this information was overwhelming, and you think that it is really a lot to remember now. But don’t worry! After you’ve set the chess board up a few times, it will feel natural and won’t pose a problem to you anymore.

The only knowledge which is missing now is how to move the chess pieces. You can read about how the chess pieces move in the article “How Chess Pieces Move” right here at iChess.net.

Once you’ve learned how the chess pieces move, you can fully dive into the world of chess and start playing your first games. No fear! All those chess rules aren’t as complicated as you might think. With a little training, it’s no problem to remember the chess rules quickly.

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If you still have any questions concerning how to set up a chessboard, feel free to leave a comment and ask us. We’ll try to answer all your questions as fast as possible.

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3 comments on “Learn How to Set up a Chess Board with Our Step-By-Step Guide

  1. Sonia Bedi says:

    perfect & easy training

  2. That’s good to know that order the pieces go in. I feel like that would make it easy to get it correct. I’ll have to remember this if I decide to get some chess pieces made for me.

  3. Chris Dixon says:

    I have just tried puzzle no 2 I noticed that between diagram 1and diagram 2 there is a difference so I am not sure if I found the answer in the difference or you have made a mistake regards Chris Dixon

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