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How to Set Up a Chess Board

Before you start a game of chess, there is a fairly obvious but important thing you have to do first. Of course you have to set up your chess board.

While this seems very simple, I often see new players who have made mistakes in setting up their board. So I sat down with our resident chess pro Agnieszka and asked her for a few tips on how to make sure you're ready to get your game started correctly.

Boards with Coordinates vs. Boards without Coordinates

Remember, there are two kinds of chess boards – those with coordinates and those without. For most beginning players, boards with coordinates make it a little easier to remember where there pieces go.

White pieces always go on the first and second ranks, while black pieces go on the seventh and eighth ranks. Simple and easy!
How to set up a chess board

When using a board without coordinates, the players must remember that they have to have a black square in the bottom left corner. If they have a white square in the bottom left corner, that means the board is sideways. And, of course, that's no good.
How to set up a chess board

The nice thing about using a board without coordinates is that if you want to switch colours for your second game, you don't need to turn the board around, since each player has that black square in the bottom left.

If you are using a board with coordinates and you want to switch colours, you'll need to turn the board around, as the white pieces have to start on the first and second ranks and the black pieces on the seventh and eighth.

The Position of the Pieces

Okay... so we know how to position our board, but where do we put the pieces?

It's pretty simple really... on the first (for white) and the eighth (for black) ranks, we put the rooks in the corners. Next, we put the knights and then the bishops. The king and queen go between the two bishops and the pawns go in the rank in front of the other pieces (second rank for white and seventh rank for black)

The King and Queen

The most common mistake that we see is mixing up the king and queen's starting position. There are two simple ways to make sure that you've got them on the right squares.

The king always starts on the E file and the queen always starts on the D file. This is the same for both black and white pieces, so it should be pretty easy to remember.

Another way to remember is that the king is a gentleman. He always lets the queen start on her own coloured square. So, if your black queen is on a white square or your white queen is on a black square, you've set up your board wrong.

And that's it. Simple stuff if you just remember those few pointers. Now feel free to set up your boards and get playing!
How to set up a chess board

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