As soon someone becomes interested in chess they will ask questions like “what do chess pieces look like?”, “are all chess set the same?” and other similar questions. These are all very normal questions to ask when you are interested in the game. If you’re wondering what the pieces look like, continue reading and you’ll find out!
Chess has a long and rich history dating back as far as the 6th century AD. The game has evolved from its origins in India and so have its pieces. Today, many chess sets have a standard look to their pieces, but back in the mid-1800’s chess pieces weren’t quite as uniform as they are today.
As the game started to gain popularity players sought a more standard and official look which is why now the “Staunton” chess set is the standard for many chess sets.
What Do Chess Pieces Look Like?
The Staunton chess set is what most if not all of us are familiar with. It usually comes with 32 pieces, 16 per color, which includes 8 pawns, 2 rooks, 2 knights, 2 bishops, a queen, and a king.
There are still variations on what these pieces look like, but since this is the standard, here’s what you should know:
The Chess Board
Yes, technically a chess board is not considered as a chess piece, but it is part of a complete chess set. Knowing what it looks like is also useful knowledge for novice players because it doesn’t hurt to know more about the sport.
A standard chess board has 64 squares in two colors to match the chess pieces of the two players. The size of the board can vary from small to jumbo, but all of them must have these 64 squares.
The size of the squares also varies depending on the manufacturer, but most players prefer squares that are even to give it a more organized look.
This is the most important piece in the set and each player only gets one king. The king is usually the tallest piece on the board and the standard piece will have a cross on top of the king’s crown.
This piece has the most power on the board and each player also just gets one queen. It can be tricky to differentiate the royal couple, but the queen is shorter than the king and wears a crown that looks like a tiara. The queen’s “crown” actually looks more like a crown than the king’s, so take note of those differences.
Each player has 2 bishops in their set. To identify the bishop look for a piece that has a hat with a rounded top. Some sets will also have a bishop that has a slashed hat.
These pieces get to stand on either side of the king and queen. In a standard set the bishop is only slightly shorter than the queen, but they are very easy to tell apart.
This is the most distinct piece in a chess set, also sometimes called a “horse” by novices because the knight pieces are shaped like horses. There are some variations in the design of the horse such as whether it is looking up or down, if it has a prominent curve or not, but it is very clear which pieces are the knights since they are the only pieces that are shaped like a horse.
The height of the knight pieces is very close to that of the bishop, but since its design is very unique there is no chance of mixing the two pieces.
Sometimes also called as the tower because it resembles a tower of a castle, the rook is found at the far corners of each player’s set up. The rook is shorter than the knight, but it is taller than the pawns.
In every set a player gets 8 pawns. These are the smallest and the least distinct pieces in the set. If there are more than two pieces of the same design in your chess set, they are most likely the pawns.
When you become more familiar with the standard chess set it is easy to answer the question “what do chess pieces look like?” Even after just one game you will be more familiar with how the different pieces look.