How Do Bishops Move In Chess?

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How bishops move in chess can initially seem confusing, but once you understand the basics, it’s a really simple and powerful piece.

In this blog post, we’ll explain how bishops move and some of the things you need to consider when using them. We’ll also give some tips on how to use them effectively.

So if you’re ready, let’s take a look at how bishops move in chess!

How Bishops Move

A bishop moves in straight lines on the diagonals, both forward and backward. In chess, each player has two bishops; one moves only on the light squares, and the other moves only on the dark squares.


As you can see in the above image, the bishop on a light-colored square can only move on the light-colored squares along the diagonals.

Whereas the bishop on a dark-colored square can move only on the dark-colored squares along the diagonals.

The bishop can move up to any number of squares along the diagonals as long as those squares are unoccupied.

Remember that if your own piece is present on the path of the bishop, then the bishop can’t go through it. Also, it can’t jump over it.

Watch this video by Howcast to get more idea of how the bishop exactly moves in chess.

How Do Bishops Capture?

A bishop can kill an enemy piece that lies on its path. However, a bishop can’t jump over the other pieces like a knight.

If there is an enemy piece present on the path of your bishop, then you can just capture it. Remove that piece off the board and place your bishop in its place.

This is how you can capture any piece with your bishop.


As you can see in the above image, the white bishop can capture the opponent’s black pawn since the black pawn is on the path of movement of the white bishop.

The white bishop can also move along the marked diagonal, as you can see.

However, as the white knight is present on one of its diagonal, the white bishop can’t move on that side.

So the path of the white bishop is blocked because of the white knight.

Also, remember that in chess, you can only capture one piece in a single turn. Capturing a piece twice is not allowed in chess.

So in the above example, the white bishop would stop after capturing the black pawn and the white player has to wait for the next turn.

Even if there were two black pawns on the diagonal of the bishop, it would not be able to kill both in a single turn. Otherwise, it would be considered an illegal move.

Hope you got my point!

So this was all about how the bishop captures in chess. Now, let’s discuss this further.

Can a bishop take a king?

No, a bishop can’t take a king because a king can’t be captured in chess. However, the bishop can check or checkmate the king. A game of chess immediately ends at checkmate, just before the king is actually captured.

To understand this point you must first know about checkmate.

Checkmate occurs when the king is attacked and there’s no legal way left to take it out of the attack.

And according to the standard chess rules, the game ends immediately whenever a checkmate occurs.

The side who checkmates wins the game, while the side who checkmates loses the game. (You can read more about the checkmate rules here.)

So, you can think of checkmate as the stage just before the king is actually captured.

And as the game ends in a checkmate the bishop can’t capture the king. But the bishop can deliver a check or checkmate to the king.

Read More: Can A King Kill A King In Chess?

Can a bishop take a queen?

Yes, a bishop can take a queen but only if your king is not in check. If your king is in check already then you are not allowed to take the queen unless your king gets out of check.

In chess, a check means the king is under attack.

Note that check and checkmate are different things. Check means the king is under attack but can be saved while checkmate means the king is under attack but can’t be saved from it.

And as per the standard rule, if your king is in check then you have to first take it out of the check and then only make any other legal move.

Also Read: Can A King Move Without Check?

There are total of three ways you can take your king out of check:

  1. By capturing the attacking chess (the piece which gives a check).
  2. By keeping a piece between your king and the attacking piece.
  3. By moving your king to a square that is totally safe and not under attack.

By any of these three ways, you can take your king out of the check.

So if by capturing the queen with your bishop, you can also take your king out of check simultaneously. Only then, you are allowed to do so.

Now, during a game, it may happen that you make your bishop reach the other side of the chessboard. So let’s discuss that as well!

What happens when a bishop reaches the other side?

A bishop remains a bishop and there’s no change in its power even when it reaches the other side. In chess, only a pawn can become a queen, knight, rook, or bishop if it reaches the other side on the 8th rank by the process known as pawn promotion.

Actually, pawn promotion is a special move that a pawn has, apart from en passant.

According to the pawn promotion rule, only the pawn is given the right to promote itself whenever it reaches the other side.

So if your pawn reaches the last rank, then you can just take it off the board and replace it with either queen, knight, rook, or bishop.

Generally, most of the time, a pawn is promoted to a queen.

However, sometimes a pawn is not promoted to a queen, and instead, the pawn is promoted to a rook, knight, or bishop.

Other chess pieces like bishop, queen, knight, rook, or king don’t have the right of pawn promotion.

So their status remains the same even if they reach the other side of the chessboard.

You can read my in-depth article on what happens when a pawn reaches the other side to know more about pawn promotion.

Now, after knowing about how the bishop moves, it is also important to know how to use it in your actual games, right?

So let’s move on to that!

How to use the bishop in chess?

Here’s how you should use the bishop in chess:

1. Place bishops on open diagonals

See, as I said earlier, the bishop is a long-range piece. And that means you can move your bishop from one side of the chessboard to another side just in a single move.

But you can only use its full potential if the squares through which the bishop has to pass are unoccupied.

Bishops prefer open positions, and open diagonals where there are not many pawns and they can freely move around the board.

2. Use good and bad bishops accordingly

Generally, what happens is, most of the time our bishops get blocked by our own pawns.

And such bishops are often called bad bishops.

Remember, if most of your pawns are on the same colored square as your bishop is, then that bishop is called the bad bishop.

On the other hand, if most of your pawns are not on the same colored square as your bishop is, then it is called the good bishop.

A good bishop is more useful in the game compared to the bad one, simply because it can move more freely and control more squares.

However, bad bishops are also sometimes useful for defending the pawns.

So depending upon the position of your board utilize the power of your bishops accordingly.

3. Activate your bishops

An active bishop is a bishop that is outside of its pawn chain. While inactive or passive bishop is a bishop that is trapped behind its pawn chain.

Pawn chain means two or more diagonally linked pawns.

So in simple words, active bishops can participate in the game more actively as they can move freely.

Therefore the idea is to make your bishops active and utilize their power in the game.

Remember, both good and bad bishops can be active bishops or inactive bishops.

There is a slight difference between “good and bad bishops” and “active and inactive bishops” that you need to understand.

We say good or bad bishops depending on which colored square your pawns are standing with respect to your bishop.

Whereas, the active or inactive bishop is determined on the basis of whether the bishop is outside of the pawn chain or not.


For example, as you can see the white bishop in the above image. It is a bad bishop because all its pawns are on the same light-colored square where it is standing.

But still, the white bishop is an active bishop because it is outside of the pawn chain and can move freely on the board.

So the key point is to make your bishop active.

4. Consider fianchettoing the bishops

Fianchetto is a pattern of piece development in which the bishop is placed on the long diagonal. After fianchettoing your bishops the position of the board looks like this:


So as you can see in the above image, both white and black have fianchettoed their bishops.

Fianchettoing a bishop is a good way to utilize the power of your bishops because in this position the bishops can control many squares along with controlling the center of the chessboard.

(You can also read my article on why controlling the center is important in chess and how to control the center of the chessboard .)

5. Use bishops in the endgame

Bishops become very powerful in the endgame especially when only pawns are left on the board.

This is the time when the bishop can use its long-range movement capacity.

In only one move, it can move from one side of the board to opponent’s side.

Also, the bishop can protect your pawns that are advancing to get promoted. So during this phase, you need to utilize your bishops wisely.

Thus, these were some of the ways you can use your bishops.

Read More: 9 Best Chess Books Every Beginner Should Read!


So I hope you understood everything about how to move the bishop, how to capture any piece with the bishop, and also how to use it in your game.

Here are some of my related articles which you may like to check out:

So that’s it! Please share this article if you found it helpful. Thanks! 🙂

Related Questions

How many steps can a bishop move?

A bishop can move up to any number of steps but only on the diagonals. There are two bishops on each side out of which one moves only on the light-colored squares while the other moves on the dark-colored squares.

Can a bishop move forward?

Yes, a bishop can move forward as well as backward. However, a bishop can’t move horizontally or vertically like a rook, nor it can jump like a knight.

Can a bishop become a queen?

No, a bishop can’t become a queen. In chess, only a pawn can become a queen by the process known as pawn promotion.

Can a bishop jump over a pawn?

No, a bishop can’t jump over a pawn. In chess, only the knight is a piece that can jump over the other pieces.

Can a bishop and king checkmate?

No, a bishop and king alone can’t checkmate a lone king because there will always be a square from which the opponent king will escape the check. So whenever such a position occurs, the game immediately ends in a draw due to insufficient mating material.

And wait! Before you go, I recommend you to check out my free step-by-step guide on how to play chess, especially if you just started playing chess. In that, I have discussed all the basic chess concepts chapter-wise, in a single place.