Bishop moves in chess – it’s use, opening and more

By Gary Flores •  Last Updated: 5 months ago •  6 min read

Do you want to know how the bishop moves in chess? How to use the bishop, and did you know that there is an opening for bishops?

At the beginning of a game, each player has two bishops each. The bishop is a long-range chess piece that can control the diagonal of the board. This chess piece is very powerful especially if you know how to utilize its move, learn the bishop's opening, and other tactics.

You might also be interested in learning about what happens when the king reaches the other side check out that article.

Now, if you want to learn more about the bishop – like its function, how to mate using a bishop, continue in the next sections.

How bishops move in chess?

So, how does a bishop move in chess? A bishop can move diagonally and can also attack diagonally. The bishop chess piece can move on a square that is not occupied or capture a piece by replacing it on its square (see images below).

bishop move in chess
Dark square bishop
Bishop on e5 attacking the Rook on h8
bishop moves in chess
Light square bishop
bishop moves in chess
Bishop captures Rook and move to h8

The most interesting characteristic of a bishop is that it can only move on a specific color of its squares. If it is a light-squared bishop it can only move along light squares and if it is a dark-squared bishop it can only move on dark squares diagonally (as shown in the image above).

Can the bishop move backwards in chess?

So, can a bishop move backwards in chess? Yes, bishops can move backwards diagonally, and forward diagonally. This long-ranged chess piece is very useful in protecting and attacking chess pieces backwards (see image below) because of its diagonal movement.

bishop backward in chess

If you're curious, there is a chess piece that cannot move backwards, and it's the ONLY chess piece! 

What is the meaning of bishop in chess?

So, what is bishop in chess? Bishop is the chess piece with a cut on its top, if you look at chess books and see the symbol of bishops there you can see the cut and because of that you can easily identify that it is a bishop.

The meaning of bishop in the real world is actually a senior member of the christian clergy or someone who is in charge of a diocese, but the meaning of bishop in chess doesn't really differ that much. The meaning of bishop in chess is actually someone who represents the church or religious entity.

I have an article which explains interesting chess meanings of each pieces!

What is the function of bishop in chess?

Bishops in chess are really strong in open positions, especially if you have both bishops still available on the board. If you have both your bishops in a game, you have more control over the light and dark squares. 

Having control of the squares will definitely be a huge advantage in checkmating your opponent's king.

A good way to counter opponent's having strong bishops on the board is to try to force an exchange, this will neutralize the power your opponent having both bishops on the board. 

What is the bishop's opening?

The unique thing about this opening for white is that instead of the knight it's the bishop who moves into the center of the board. The bishop's opening is a really powerful and aggressive opening move for white especially if you like to play tricky games that can lead to so many advantages early in the game. This opening starts with 1. e4 e5, then 2. Bc4 … (see image below).

Once you learn the bishop's opening and learn some main lines you will definitely love to play this over and over again. I will show you a game below where you can overwhelm your opponent and can potentially checkmate its king.  

If you want to learn more about bishop's opening I urge you to watch the video below;

Can you checkmate with a king and a bishop?

So, can the king and a bishop force a checkmate? The answer is no, the king and bishop cannot cover all the necessary squares to force a checkmate (see image below). Even if the opponent's king is at the very corner of the chess board, the king and bishop cannot perform a checkmate.

Just to be clear, we are talking about an endgame scenario and the only pieces left are two kings and a bishop.

If you do have two bishops and a king, you will be able to force a checkmate (see image below), still it is not easy but it is possible. If you want some quick wins you should learn about 4 move checkmates!

Is rook more powerful than bishop?

The bishop is valued at 3 points while the rook is valued at 5 points, this means that the rook is indeed more powerful than the bishop. Although, both chess pieces ( bishop and rook ) are considered long range pieces, the rook can occupy different colored squares unlike bishops wherein they can only occupy either light squares or dark squares only.

For those simple reasons, we can say that we will choose the rook over bishops. When it comes to early chess piece development the bishop develops faster than the rook. In order for the rook to get in the game a lot faster the rook has to do the castling move with the king.

Can the bishop jump in chess?

The bishop chess piece cannot jump over other pieces like the knight in chess. If you're not familiar with the chess pieces moves, jumping over other pieces is only allowed for knight pieces.  

For the bishop to move diagonally in any distance, there should be no other pieces blocking it, that is the reason why jumping over other pieces can be very useful in some situations but that does not work for bishops in chess.

Wrapping Up

Bishop is a long-range chess piece that can control the diagonal of the board. The bishop can move diagonally and attacks diagonally. The bishop can move on a square that is not occupied or it can capture a piece by replacing it on its square.

The bishop in chess is actually someone who represents the church or religious entity.

If you are ready to learn more about chess you can go to our chess resources or play chess online.

Gary Flores

Gary is a chess enthusiast and has three children who also enjoy learning the game. He is a co-author of the "Chess Fundamentals" digital interactive book a ChessDelights Edition. He founded in order to brush up on his understanding of this tactic and strategy game. He also enjoys encouraging those who are learning, re-learning, or instructing their children in the game of chess.
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