How Many Pieces Are There in a Chess Set?

How Many Pieces Are There in a Chess Set?

A chess set comes with a number of different pieces all of which have a particular purpose. The number of pieces in a chess set varies depending on the manufacturer and what they include in a set.

The Board: This is where you set up the pieces. Sometimes it also doubles as the container of your pieces.

The Chessmen: These are also called chess pieces. These are the main components of any chess set, but may also be sold separately from the board. A standard set of chess pieces comes with 32 chessmen, 16 for each color, but there are some sets that come with 34 pieces.

The two additional pieces are usually extra queens in case the most important piece of the set is lost or misplaced. When the number of chess pieces varies it’s usually because of extra pieces.

How Many Pieces Are There in a Chess Set and What Are They Called?

Now that the number of pieces found in a chess set is cleared up and the extra pieces have come to light, it is now time to learn more about the different pieces and the roles they play in the game. Although there are 16 pieces found on each side of the board there are only 6 kinds with different roles and movements.

The Pawns

There are 8 pawns, which account for half of all the chess pieces on the board. They positioned on the second row and are only allowed to move one square at a time, except on their very first move where they can move two squares. To beat an opponent’s piece using the pawn their piece must be diagonally positioned from the pawn.

Pawns, although limited in their movement have the ability to promote to another piece when they reach the other end of the board. They can turn into a Bishop, Rook, Knight, or Queen. There are no limits to how many pieces are allowed a promotion.

The Rook, Tower, or Castle

Each player has 2 castles. These pieces can move as many squares as possible providing they stay in a straight line. They can move either horizontally or vertically as long as no piece of the same color is blocking their way.

The Knight

There are also 2 knights per color. These are the only pieces that are allowed to leap over other pieces, but they are severely limited as they can only move in an “L” shape.

The Bishop

Again, each player has 2 bishops in their set. These pieces can only move diagonally but aren’t limited to how many squares they move forward.

Only when there is a piece of the same color blocking their path do they have to stop at a certain square.

The Queen

There is only 1 queen of each color in every set. Although a set may have 2 extra queens (1 extra for each color) they cannot be used on the chess board during the game at the same time.

The queen is the most powerful piece within the set because she can move in any direction and for as many squares as possible as long as no other piece is blocking her path.

Losing your queen does not end the game, but it does put you at a severe disadvantage if your opponent still has their queen and you do not. The best way to regain all the power of the queen is to get a pawn promoted and turn them into a queen.

The King

Every set only has 1 king of each color and a “Check Mate” is how a game of chess ends in victory. When your opponent calls “Check” they are simply warning you that your king is in danger and you need to block the path or to move the king.

Kings are limited because they can only move one square at a time, but they can move in any direction as long as nothing is blocking their way.


The number of pieces in a chess set depends on the manufacturer. Typically, a set will have 32 or 34 if an extra queen is added.

If you count the board as part of your chess set then you will have either 33 or 35 pieces. Usually though, you’ll find that most chess sets don’t come with spare pieces, so make sure that you take extra care to not lose any of them.

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