How to Set Up a Chess Board

If you’re short on time – here’s how to set up a chess board:

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Rook, Knight, Bishop, Queen, King, Bishop, Knight Rook. The pawns belong on the row above the other pieces.

If you need help to identify the pieces, we created this graphic for you:

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A simple rule that will make it easier for you to set up a chess board:

The white Queen goes to the white field, the black Queen goes to the black field.

The Positioning of the Chess Board

Ensure that the board is set up correctly. If you position the board correctly, the square a1 should be black squared and on the bottom left of the board.

Most chess boards have numbers and letters on the sides. The numbers are files and the letters are rows.

You want to set up the pieces so that the white pieces are on the first row, and the black pieces are on the eight row.

If your board doesn’t have coordinates on it, you can use the color of the squares as your orientation.

These letters and numbers are there so that chess games can be annotated. For example, this is the move e4:

chess board first move

As you can see, the pawn on the e-lane moved from row 2 to row 4. Therefore the move is called e2-e4. Pretty simple, right?

How to Set up a Chess Position

Now that we know how the annotation works, we can easily set up positions.

how to set up a chess position

In this position, the white King is on e2, short Ke2, and the Rook is on h8, Rh8.

The black King is on a7, Ka7, and the Bishop is on b7, Bb7.

Here are the abbreviations for the chess annotations:

Pawn: The pawns don’t have a letter! You simply mention the square, e.g. e4.
Queen: Q
King: K
Knight: N (The exception)
Bishop: B
Rook: R

If you want to tell your friend to set up a position, for example via the phone, you can just use the annotation!

That’s all, now that you know how t set up a chess board, enjoy your game of chess!

Step-by-Step directions

How to set up a chess board

Total Time: 1 minute

Step 1: Position the board

chess board

Position the board so that the white side starts with the row 1. The square on the bottom right should be white.

Step 2: Position the Rooks

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The rook should be positioned on the far ends of the board: a1, h1, a8 and h8.

Step 3: Position the Knights and Bishops

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Next, move the knight and bishop next to the rook – in that order.

Step 3: Place the Queens

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The white queen belongs to the white square and the black queen belongs to the black square.

Step 4: Place the King

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Place the king on the remaining square next to the queen.

Step 5: Fill the second row with pawns

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The row above the pieces should be completely filled with pawns.


What’s a simple rule that makes it easier to set up the chess board?

White queen sits on the white square, black queen sits on the black square.