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Chess Board Setup: With Names, Diagrams, And Rules

Here are the key points you need to know related to the chess board structure and setup.

  • A chessboard has 64 squares, 32 dark squares, and 32 light squares.
  • There is a total of 8 horizontal rows (also called ‘ranks’) and 8 vertical columns (also called ‘files’).

Trick Time!: To remember what are rows and what are columns: both “rows” and “rank” start with the same letter ‘R’. So you can remember them in that way. What remains is the “file” which simply means “column”. Easy?

  • Remember that while setting the board the light color square should always be on your right side corner.

Now, the setup of the chess pieces is exactly the same as shown in the figure above. There are only 6 types of chess pieces and the names of all the chess pieces are rook, knight, bishop, queen, king, and pawn. However, on each side, there is a total of 16 chess pieces.


The pawns occupy the second row of each side, rooks occupy the corner squares, after that the knight and then bishop.

Out of the remaining two squares, king and queen are placed. The king has a cross

Trick Time!: The white (light-colored) queen occupies the light-colored square while the black (dark-colored) queen occupies the black-colored square.

Finally the remaining square on the first row, the king is placed.

For ease of understanding the positions of the pieces, the chessboard is marked with the numbers from 1-8 that represent the 8 rows (ranks) and alphabets from a-h that represent the 8 columns (files).

See the image of the chessboard below. I have marked the position ‘d5’. d represents the file while 5 represents the row (rank) 5.


So any chess piece if kept on that square will be said to be in on d5 square. Moreover, the positions of the chess pieces when represented in the written format they are known as notations.

The chess players write these notations on each move they make in the professional chess games in a scoresheet. I have talked more about this in my detailed article Why Do Chess Players Write Down Their Moves.

For casual chess games, it is not so necessary to learn about chess notations but if you are serious then you can check that out for further reference.

  • Also, note that in chess the player with light-colored pieces (white) gets the chance to move first. So if you want that you have to select the white pieces!

Now let’s move on to our next lesson.

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