How is a Chess Board Arranged?

Properly arranging a chess board is essential to playing chess properly. It may seem like you can play the game with any setup, but the correct method allows for the most dynamic, even games, full of beautiful possibilities.

Today, so many games are played online, where the chess board is automatically set up for the player. It’s not uncommon for a novice player to sit down and realize they don’t know how to arrange the board – even though they’ve played many games.

This guide will go through setting up a chess board step by step.

How to Set Up a Chess Board

We’ll go through how to arrange a chess board correctly in just seven steps. Reference this guide until you have the set up memorized and are confident placing the chess pieces on the board. We’ll start by setting up the pawns. Then we’ll place the rooks, knights, bishops, queens, and kings on both sides. Let’s get started!

Step 1
Make sure the board is oriented correctly.

It’s common to see a board set up improperly simply because it’s not facing the right way from the start. The easiest way to remember the correct position is that the board will always have a white square to the players right. So, when a player sits down at the board, a white square will be in the bottom right corner.

blank chess board
Step 2
Place the Pawns on the board.

The pawns are the “soul of the game”. There are eight pawns for each player which are placed across the second and seventh rows of the board. This will look like the second row from each players perspective.

chess board with pawns
Step 3
Place your Rooks on the board.

The rooks (also known as castles) are some of the most powerful pieces in the game. They are to be placed on the furthest corners of the board. Each player will have a rook on both a white and dark square.

chess board set up Rooks
Step 4
Place your Knights on the board.

The knights (also known as horses) are to be placed next to the rooks on each side of the board. You’ll know this was done correctly if there are four empty squares between the knights.

chess board with knights
Step 5
Place your Bishops on the board.

Each bishop should be placed next to a knight of the same color (as shown below). This will leave two empty squares in the middle for the queen and king.

Chess board w Bishops
Step 6
Place your Queen on the board.

The queen will always be on her own color. If the board is set up and you see the queen on the opposite color, you’ll know that either the king and queen are switched, or the board was aligned incorrectly at the start. The queen is the most powerful piece, and her position is essential to the quality of the game.

chess board set up with queen
Step 7
Place your King on the board.

The king is positioned on the last square available. The piece will always fall between the queen and bishop on a square of opposite color.

Now you’re ready to play the game! White moves first.

complete arranged chess board

Completed Chess Board Arrangement

Chess is an incredible game that allows for a nearly infinite number of games and possibilities. Arranging the chess board correctly is a huge part of making these games the best they can be. Now that you’ve gone through this guide, you’re ready for a lifetime of entertainment, education, and competition wherever there’s a board.