What Chess Pieces Can Move Backwards?

Last updated

If you want to play chess properly then one of the first and the most basic thing you should know is the movement of the chess pieces. But one question may arise in your mind, can chess pieces move backwards?

As per the standard rules of chess, all chess pieces can move backwards, except pawns. However, it is not permitted to move a piece to the square occupied by the piece of the same color.

In chess, there are standard rules you need to follow otherwise your move will be considered an illegal move.

Read More: What Is Considered An Illegal Move In Chess? (Explained)

The World Chess Federation, FIDE, is the international chess governing body. In the FIDE Laws of chess handbook, all the standard chess rules are mentioned.

Now in that, in FIDE article 3, there is a proper description of which way the chess pieces exactly move.

Further in this article, I’m going to discuss all the important chess rules related to moving the pieces. But before that let’s discuss how each chess pieces move, and if they can move backward or not.

Can A Knight Move Backwards?

Yes, a knight can move backwards. The knight moves in an L pattern, first two steps vertically and then one step horizontally or vice versa.

Knight is the only chess piece that can even jump over other pieces.

Here’s an example to show you how a knight moves in chess.


Read More: How Does The Knight Move In Chess?

Can A Pawn Move Backwards?

No, a pawn can’t move backward in chess. As per the standard rules, a pawn can move forward one step in a single move and two steps, only on the first move.

There are two special moves associated with pawns: one is en passant and another is pawn promotion.

Pawns can’t move backward and hence it is advised to move them wisely. Making unnecessary pawn moves during the opening phase can develop weak areas and provide an opportunity for your opponent to attack.

Here is an example of how pawns move in chess.


Although you have the chance to move the pawn two steps on the first move, it is not necessary to do so. If you wish you can also move the pawn to just one square.

I have written a detailed article on can pawns move backwards in chess. You can check that out to know more.

Can A Bishop Move Backwards?

Yes, a bishop can move backward. A bishop can move back and forth but only along the diagonals. Each side has two bishops that can move only on one type of square.

A bishop of the light-colored square can move only on the light-colored square while a bishop of the dark-colored square can move only on the dark-colored squares.


Read More: How Do Bishops Move In Chess?

Can A King Move Backwards?

Yes, a king can move backwards. In fact, a king can move in any direction up to one square in one move.

Only castling is the move where a king moves more than one square in a single turn. You can read more about castling and its types here.

Although the king is the most valuable chess piece, it is not the most powerful piece which you can already notice from its mobility on the board.

Read Related: Logic Behind Why Is The King So Weak In Chess?

Here is an example of how the king moves in chess.


Read More: How Does The King Move In Chess?

Can A Queen Move Backwards?

Yes, a queen can move backwards. A queen can move horizontally, vertically as well as diagonally. Thus it can move in any direction.

Due to its high mobility, the queen is considered the most powerful piece in chess. A rook has the combined power of rook and bishop.

Here’s an example of how the queen moves in chess.


Can A Rook Move Backwards?

Yes, a rook can move backwards. A rook can move horizontally as well as vertically.

Rook is the second most powerful piece in chess. A rook can also castle with a king.

Here’s an example to show how the rook moves.


Read More: How Do Rooks Move In Chess?

Chess Rules Related To Chess Pieces Moves:

You can’t move a piece to a square occupied by your own piece.

So in case you want to move the piece backward make sure that the square where you are going to place the chess piece is empty.

If a square is occupied by an opponent chess piece and you occupy that square then, the opponent piece is considered to be captured and removed from the board as a part of the same move.

Which chess piece cannot move backwards? Pawns can never move backwards.

Moreover, any chess piece that if moved, exposes the king of the same color to attack (check), then it can’t be moved.

Here’s an example to show this thing.


It’s black’s turn to move. As you can see the white rook is attacking the black king. So can the knight move backward?

The answer is no in this case because as soon as the knight leaves the square to move backward, the black king behind it would directly get exposed to the attack of the white rook.

More technically, this is called a check by the white rook on the black king.

Read Related: Difference Between Check And Checkmate (Easy Guide For Beginners)

So remember that you can’t move your chess piece backwards or in any direction if doing so exposes your king to attack (check) by your opponent’s piece.

Now apart from the rules I discussed, there are other chess rules as well. So you can check out the FIDE Laws of chess handbook for further reference.

Also, you can watch this video by Coach Dat, which explains how each chess piece moves and other related questions.


So that’s it! Hope you now completely know which chess pieces cannot move backwards and which can move backwards. Please do share if you found this article helpful.

You may also like to read:

And are you a Beginner? Then check out my complete guide on how to play chess for beginners. This is a start-to-finish guide in which I teach you to play chess in step-by-step lessons. It is a completely free guide so I highly recommend checking it out!

Thanks and good luck!