Stay in touch!

Never miss out on the latest articles and get sneak peeks of our favorite classes.

A Basic Guide to Chess Board Setup


In the world of chess, mastering the fundamentals is crucial for players of all levels. One of the essential aspects of the game is the chess board setup, a foundational step that dictates the course of the entire match. 


Whether you’re a novice eager to learn the ropes or a seasoned player looking for a refresher, this guide will walk you through the standard chess board setup, the correct arrangement of pieces, and even delve into strategic opening moves. 


Let’s unravel the mysteries of chess board setup and set the stage for thrilling matches.

What Is the Standard Chess Setup?

The standard chess board setup is the arrangement of pieces at the beginning of a chess game. It follows a specific pattern that ensures fairness and equal opportunities for both players. 


The chessboard consists of 64 squares arranged in an 8×8 grid. Each player has 16 pieces, including a king, queen, bishops, knights, rooks, and pawns. 


Understanding this initial arrangement is essential for grasping the dynamics of the game.

quotation marks

The chessboard is a battlefield where intellectual prowess meets strategic finesse, and understanding the number of pieces in play is fundamental.

How Many Pieces Are There on the Chessboard?

The chessboard is a battlefield where intellectual prowess meets strategic finesse, and understanding the number of pieces in play is fundamental. 


A standard chessboard comprises 32 pieces in total, 16 for each player. These pieces include a king, queen, bishops, knights, rooks, and pawns. 


Each player’s pieces are uniquely positioned at the start of the game, presenting an equal and balanced setup. The interplay of these 32 pieces unfolds into the intricate dance of attack and defence, capturing the essence of chess as a game of skill and strategy. 


Whether in the opening moves or the climactic endgame, the quantity and arrangement of these pieces on the chessboard dictate the unfolding narrative of each match.

chess board setup

What Is the Correct Way to Set Up a Chess Board?

Setting up a chess board correctly is fundamental to a fair and enjoyable game. Begin by placing the board so that each player has a white square on their right-hand side. Then, position the pieces on the board according to the following guidelines:


  • Rooks in the corners.
  • Knights next to the rooks.
  • Bishops next to the knights.
  • Place the queen on the remaining square of her color.
  • The king is positioned beside the queen.
  • Pawns occupy the entire second row for each player.


This symmetrical setup ensures that both players face identical initial positions, providing a balanced starting point for strategic gameplay.

Does the King Go on the Left or Right?

The king’s placement is a common source of confusion for beginners. 


The correct position for the king in the standard chess board setup is to be placed next to the queen. For the white player, the king goes on the white square, while for the black player, the king goes on the black square. 


This setup ensures that each king faces the opponent’s pieces directly, setting the stage for the strategic interplay that makes chess so intriguing.

chess board setup

Best Opening Moves from Initial Chess Board Setup

Once the chess board is correctly set up, players can employ various opening moves to establish control, defend key squares, and prepare for mid-game manoeuvres. ]


Be sure to check out Amphy’s newest Video On Demand courses for all the Chess Opening Traps You Must Know!


Some classic opening strategies include:

  • Pawn Openings (e4 or d4): 

    Many games start with pawn openings, either moving the pawn in front of the king two squares (e4 for white) or the pawn in front of the queen two squares (d4 for white). These openings facilitate piece development and control the center of the board.

  • King’s Pawn Opening (e4): 

    This popular opening move allows for rapid development of the king’s bishop and queen, setting the stage for a dynamic mid-game.

  • Queen’s Pawn Opening (d4): 

    This move aims to control the center and prepare for the development of the queen’s bishop. It often leads to strategic and closed positions.

  • Italian Game (c4):

    The Italian Game involves moving the knight to c3, preparing for pawn to d4. This opening allows for quick piece development and control of the center.

  • Spanish Opening (Ruy Lopez): 

    A classic opening that involves moving the king’s pawn two squares followed by the knight to f3. The Ruy Lopez sets the stage for strong central control and piece development.


The choice of opening largely depends on personal preference, playing style, and the desire to control specific squares on the board. Exploring different openings can deepen your understanding of the game and enhance your strategic repertoire.


Mastering the chess board setup is a fundamental step in becoming a proficient chess player. Understanding the standard arrangement, correct piece placement, and the initial position of the king are key elements that set the stage for strategic brilliance. 


As players progress in their chess journey, experimenting with various opening moves from the initial board setup adds depth and complexity to their gameplay. 


Whether you’re a casual player or aspiring grandmaster, a solid grasp of chess board setup lays the foundation for exciting, challenging, and rewarding games on the 64-square battlefield.

Share this article
Back to top