Helpful Guide: The basics of chess setup

By Gary Flores •  Updated: 03/20/21 •  12 min read

I bought a chess set, a silicone chessboard and bought one for my daughter a few months back. The first thing I taught my daughter was how to set up a chessboard, which she was able to follow easily. I was impressed and felt amazing teaching her about chess.

If you are interested in chess sets, I have an article that can help you decide which chess set you can buy from a different range of prices. I do love the silicone chess board type, which you can check out here.

My daughter set up the chess board quickly because I taught her to follow a simple step, which you can read here

Or you can check out some images of a board setup below.

In this article, I want to give you a quick guide for chess setup and other related questions.

What does the chessboard setup look like?

The chessboard setup looks confusing and complicated to beginners, but it's straightforward once you break it down. The board comprises 8 rows of 8 squares and totals sixty-four squares, with alternating colors of black and white squares. 

The chessboard alternates colors in a pattern that makes it easy to remember where each color starts. 

Viktor Korchnoi, a chess Grandmaster and former world champion were famous for his ability to remember the exact details of thousands of chess games he had already played and had no qualms about using his prodigious powers of recollection to his advantage. 

Watch Victor Korchnoi vs Magnus Carlsen below:

Korchnoi's memory was so good because he was so strong at pattern recognition, he was able to spot a pattern—such as the alternating colors of a chessboard—and then use it to help him remember a seemingly unrelated piece of information—such as the location of chess pieces on a chessboard.

Here are some chess sets and boards you might want to check out;

Best Chess Sets Under $50: My Top 10 Choice From A Single Store!
Best Chess Sets Under $100: Our Top 10 Selection in 2020
Top 25 Recommended Chess Set For Beginners

What are the steps to begin playing chess?

To be honest, I was not that much interested in learning chess when I was young; all I wanted to do was play outside. My father was patient in teaching me chess, and I felt the desire to defeat him in a game. The first step for me was by learning from my father’s teaching.

There are many ways to get started playing chess. The best way is to find someone to teach you the basics. Once you have learned the basics, you can start playing chess online. Those looking for a less passive approach can join a chess club or go to a chess tournament.

We are all familiar with the idea that to be good at something, we need to practice a lot of it – but where do we find a chess club or a place to practice chess. Chess is a game that is played by many and enjoyed by a few. 

Most people who enjoy chess do so as part of a chess club. To find a chess club in your area and learn chess, you need to research the internet. Many people play chess online on the internet, so you can start there and find a local chess club to join.

Here is a site where I play online and join an online chess club to practice. chessdelights
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What are the chess pieces on the board?

Chess is a game played on a board of 64 squares between two players. Each player begins with sixteen pieces of six types: one king, one queen, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, and eight pawns. 

The object of the game is to checkmate the opponent's king by placing it under an inescapable threat of capture. Checkmate occurs when the king is in jeopardy, and there is no way to remove or defend it from attack.

The chess pieces are the tools of the chess player… They are the tools that help us win. Without them, we are not much more than a bystander to the game. There are different chess pieces, strengths, functions, and other ways to use each one.

As chess players, we must learn to use each chess piece correctly and to know when to use each one (and even when not to use a piece).

Here are the images of the chess pieces on the board;

Wooden chess board with chess pieces

What are the moves of the chess pieces on the board?

There are 32 chess pieces on the board, and although it looks intimidating for beginners, newbie chess players can start learning the setup of the board, followed by learning the moves of each chess piece on the board.

Here are the basic moves of the chess pieces on the board:

Pawn:  The pawn moves forward one space on its first move and can only move forward.

Bishop: The bishop moves diagonally one space, as far as it can.

Knight: The knight moves two spaces in one direction and then one, as far as it can.

Rook: The rook can move horizontally or vertically in any number of spaces.

Queen: The queen can move like a rook and bishop.

King: The king can only move one space.

Watch this video on how chess pieces move;

Also, check out this articles about how chess pieces move;
Chess moves, meaning, the name with pictures of each chess pieces

How to read the notation of the pieces on the board?

When playing chess, it's sometimes hard to understand the notation of the pieces on the board. It cannot be very clear to figure out what each letter and symbol stands for. For example, is A1 or e8 referring to? 

The position of the pieces on the chess board is usually written as a sequence of letters and symbols. The letters and symbols are used to describe each piece's location on the chess board. The letters are the file letter, which indicates the piece's file, and the rank letter, which indicates the rank the piece is on. 

In this section, I will help you understand all of the letters and symbols clearly so that you can read them easily. 

So let's get started!

K = King the piece indicates where your king is located on the board. If there are multiple kings, this would indicate which one it was referring to. For example, “Kd5” refers to Black's King at d5 while “Ke4” refers to White's King at e4. 

I suggest you read a guide on how to learn chess notation.

There will be some cases where it is easy for beginners to learn the moves when someone will explain to them which color a chess notation is described in a book. That is why numbers and letters on the board are important to learn.

Letters can also describe the location in terms of the number of squares the piece is from the “a” file and “a” rank. The symbols are used to describe the piece's orientation on the chess board. 

Step by step video guide for chess board set up.

Setting up the chess board for a chess game is one of the most fundamental parts of learning to play the game. While the rules are easy to understand, a good player must know how to set up a chess board to optimize their winning chances. 

It may appear not easy for those who do not know how to set up a chess board. But, it is not that difficult and can be done by following a few simple steps.

Watch the video below on chessboard setup;

Also read related articles below;

Which of these chess pieces starts on squares b1 and g1, and b8 and g8?

How to teach kids to set up the chess board.

Chess is a great way to teach kids about strategy, but it can be difficult for parents and children to find the time to learn about chess board setup.

Kids are busy these days with extracurricular activities and having fun with friends. It's hard for them to fit chess into their schedule. 

The solution is really simple – use an online app ( learning to play chess app ) that shows the board's set up so your child can learn how to play on their own whenever they want! With this online chess app, all you have to do is choose the levels, and the board is set up ready to play online, or snap a picture of the board from your computer or laptop and then follow the setup. 

The online algorithm will automatically arrange all of the pieces in just seconds! This means your kids can easily play and learn how to set up the chessboard at any time.

Children who are introduced to chess at a young age often begin to develop the skills and interests that will last them a lifetime. As they grow, their chess skill levels will vary, but by the time they reach adulthood, many will be strong enough to compete in tournaments. 

Here are some examples of kids setting up the chess board.

What is the proper setup of a chess board?

The setup of the chess board is a very sensitive topic among chess players. The most common rules nowadays are the ones that are used in FIDE. However, there are many others too, and these have been used for a long time.  

Important: FIDE rules are designed to help chess players play in a smooth and orderly manner. The FIDE rules are the official guidelines for playing chess competitions all over the world.

The first queen-less chess variant played was primitive chess, shorthanded chess, suicide chess, and fairy chess. They all had their own rules about how to set up the board. Even today, chess boards are set up differently, depending on the rules of the game.  

Why is setting up the board the most important thing to learn first?

In chess, the first thing you learn is how to set up the board, and the following four things are what you should know first when you are just starting… 🙂

1. The first thing to learn in chess is how to set up the board.  

2. The first thing any chess player needs to know is how to set up the chess board. 

3. The first thing a chess player needs to learn is how to set up the board.  

4. The first thing I learned about learning chess is how to set up the board.

Since everyone has their own pace to learn, it's essential to set up the board correctly for beginners. 

The video below will show you ideas chess board setup and how to avoid mistakes!

Where does the queen go on a chess board?

If you’ve learned the names of the chess pieces, then it’s time to understand where they go on a chess board. 

The queen is one of my favorite pieces and it is located or positioned on the d file, initial starting position for the white queen is on d1 square, and d8 for the black queen.

It can move in any direction and can even be used to capture other players at times! But specific rules must be followed when moving your queen around the chessboard. 

Check out the related links, where I wrote about the queen in chess set up rules, and look at some examples so that you can see how easy it is to make sure your queen knows where she belongs on a chessboard!

Also, read an article about how many queens can you have in a chess game.

What is the best chess set to buy?

Chess is a game that has been around for centuries. There are many different types of chess sets to choose from, but the best set is not always the most expensive.

The best chess set to buy depends on your needs and preferences: if you want a traditional board with pieces in various shapes, then wood or marble may be your answer. If you like playing games on an electronic platform, think about buying a digital chessboard and wooden or plastic pieces. 

If you are interested with wooden set, check out this best value wooden chess set!

Also, consider getting a travel-size model with magnetic pieces (amazon affiliate link) for traveling purposes so it will fit in any bag or suitcase!

How to set up a 3 moves checkmate?

There are many types of checkmates that can be achieved in 3 or fewer moves. 

A 3 moves checkmate is any checkmate that can be achieved in 3 or fewer moves. Many of these checkmates are easy to accomplish and can be memorized. However, the checkmate can also be very difficult and needs lots of practice to perfect. 

Watch the video below for a sample of 3 moves checkmate;

Below, you will find a list of articles that shows 3 move checkmates.

Wrapping Up

While it is easy enough to learn chess rules, getting started can be a bit tricky. If you are new to the game and would like some help setting up the pieces for your first match, I hope this article helped you.

If you read the information above, then you’ll never have an issue with anything related to chess setup. I bet that once you start learning more about setting up your chess pieces, that you'll find yourself excited to win more games than ever before.

Gary Flores

Hi there! I'm a dad with kids who loves to learn how to play chess by learning online - also, this is my way of refreshing my knowledge about this game of tactics & strategy. I created to inspire people who are also learning, re-learning or teaching their kids the game of chess.
Pro Chess Players Study These Checkmate Traps!

Download your playbook to play traps like a pro! In this playbook, you will learn traps you can play with popular chess openings! King's Gambit ,Caro-Kann Defense, Italian Game, Ruy Lopez Opening and more...

Download The FREE Playbook

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