The queen is arguably the strongest chess piece, mostly thanks to her agile movements across the board. As long as no other pieces block her path, she is able to move anywhere in a straight line.
The rules of chess allow the queen to move any number of vacant squares in any directional line (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally). The queen essentially combines the moves of the rook and bishop, giving her the biggest movement range among all the chess pieces.
In order to move the queen from her starting position on the board, a player should first create an unoccupied square to move through. This essentially means a pawn needs to move to create movement space for the queen.
A Queen Moves In Any Direction
Since the queen’s movement on the board is relatively strong, each player is assigned only one copy of the chess piece. She may move as many squares as possible in all directions, but she can only move on a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line:
The queen is allowed to move backwards, forwards, sideways, and diagonally. She is allowed to do this in as many unoccupied squares as possible, as long as the queen moves in a straight line.
There are no differences between a white or black queen in terms of movement options. However, there are some basic limitations to her movements to keep in mind, for both white and black.
Queen Movement Limitations
While queens are able to move relatively quickly, she can’t move everywhere in a single turn. There are four important limitations for moving the queen around:
- Only straight lines: While the queen may move in any direction, she may only move in a straight line (and yes, diagonal movement is also a straight line). The queen is not permitted to move like a knight. The rules of chess do not allow players to move the queen e.g. two squares to the left, and then one square up.
- Don’t jump over pieces: A queen may not jump over pieces of her own color, nor may she jump over pieces of the opposing color. However, she is allowed to attack pieces of the opposing color. She then takes their position without moving beyond them in the same turn.
- Only full spaces: Chess rules do not permit to move the queen only half a square (i.e. 0.5, 1.5, or 2.5 squares) under any circumstance. If another piece blocks the queen’s path of movement, she may not move beyond that piece.
- Never share positions: It is not permitted for chess pieces to share a square with another chess piece. ‘Merging’ two of your own chess pieces is also illegal. However, the queen is allowed to attack and capture any piece of the opposing color to take their position (except the king, which can only be placed in a checkmate).
While these basic rules might seem redundant to experienced chess players, beginners should be made aware of these limitations when learning how to use the queen. It provides a helpful framework for how chess pieces may move in general.
Queen Moves Like A Rook And Bishop Combined
To remember all the possible movements of the queen, a player could see her as a combination of a rook and bishop. The rook moves an unnumbered amount of squares in any horizontal and vertical direction. The bishop moves an unnumbered amount of squares in any diagonal direction.
To put it into a formula: ♕ Queen Movement = ♖ Rook Movement + ♗ Bishop Movement.
First, let’s visualize the movement possibilities of the rook in the diagram below:
It’s pretty simple, the rook moves up, down, left, or right. It can only move in straight lines, just like the queen. Let’s add to that the movements of the bishop, which only moves diagonally in all directions:
Combine the movement options of the rook and bishop, and you get the movement options of a queen. As a rule of thumb, the queen can both move around and attack like a rook and a bishop. The queen is only allowed to move in straight lines, so chess rules do not allow her to move like a knight.
Attacking With The Queen
Just like other chess pieces, the queen is allowed to attack pieces of the opposing color by moving onto their square on the board in a straight line. The queen is allowed to attack in the exact same directions as she can move: horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.
The queen is able to attack and take both defended and undefended pieces. Because the queen is a high-value chess piece, the only trade that strategically makes sense is to trade her for the opponent’s queen.
To visualize, here are two examples of how a queen might attack an opponent’s piece. She can choose to take the ♝ Bishop on square g5 by attacking horizontally, OR she can choose to attack the ♞ Knight on square g2 by attacking diagonally:
Do you still remember the movement limitations of the queen? She is not allowed to jump over her own pieces to move to another square. She also can’t attack and take an opponent’s piece that way. If one of her own pieces blocks the path, an attack is not possible:
Similarly, a queen cannot pass a weaker piece (e.g. pawn) to attack a stronger piece (e.g. bishop or knight). However, she can take pieces that block her path. She could then take that square to threaten another attack on the next turn:
It’s really important to understand how a queen moves on the board, but it’s equally important to understand her limitations. Not only in movement, but also in attack methodology. The queen is a powerful chess piece. She is the exact opposite of her counterpart, the king.
Queen And King Are Opposites
While the queen moves fast king moves slow, the king moves slow. He can only take one step at a time, while she races across the board like there’s no tomorrow. While the king and queen are a pair, they are exact opposites when it comes to moving around.
To avoid any confusion, it’s important to address a few key differences between the king and queen:
- The king is allowed to castle, while a queen is not able to participate in a castle move. The special chess move is exclusive to the king and rook, under specific conditions.
- A queen cannot be put in check, unlike the king. If a queen is taken by the opponent, the game continues.
- While a king may not move like a queen, a queen is allowed to move similar to a king.
Also, remember that the queen may not attack and capture the king. She can only corner and check/checkmate the king. On the other hand, the king can attack and take a queen if she foolishly decides to ‘checkmate’ the king without being protected by another piece.
If any of the explanations in this overview confused you, first learn how a king can move on a chess board. It’s a lot less intimidating and a lot less complicated!