Having more than one queen of the same color at once might seem a bit unfair. So is it even possible to do this legally under current chess rules? Only if you’ve got some extra pawns to spare, and move them to the other side of the board.
Chess rules allow players to have two queens at the same time. To have more than one queen on the board, a special chess move called pawn promotion is required. To promote a pawn, it has to reach the other side of the board and transform into a second queen.
Having two queens at once is most common at the end of a chess game. After all, the queen is the chess piece that is most commonly chosen after a pawn reaches the other side of the board. That’s exactly how to get two queens, three queens, or even up to nine queens at a time!
How To Get A Two Queens At Once
The key to having more than one queen of the same color is pawn promotion. This is a special chess move that activates on the turn a pawn is moved to the other side of the board.
Once a pawn reaches the other side, it is completely removed from the board. The player then decides to exchange that pawn for one of the following four chess pieces:
- Queen ♕
- Rook ♖
- Bishop ♗
- Knight ♘
Pawn promotion is limited to these four chess pieces. Players may decide which piece they prefer. The queen being the strongest strategic choice makes it the obvious choice in most situations.
Note that it is not possible to promote a pawn to an extra king. The pawn can only transform into a stronger piece on the far side of the board, so it’s also not allowed to ‘become another pawn’.
To visualize an example of pawn promotion, check out the pawn move in the situation below:
Once the pawn on f7 is moved to f8, it has to transform into a stronger chess piece. Since the queen is the strongest option, it makes sense to promote any pawn into a queen, which would look like this:
Notice (in the example above) how there are now two white queens at once. The pawn that was promoted has been completely removed from the board, as the chess rules prescribe. The new queen replaces the last board position of the promoted pawn (i.e. here we place the queen on f8).
However, things don’t end there for white. Notice how there’s another pawn ready to promote on square g7. Wouldn’t it be exciting to get even more queens out on the board?!
Three Queens Or More Are Possible
More than one pawn can be promoted in a game of chess. Chess rules allow three queens of the same color at once. In fact, every pawn can potentially promote into another queen. The maximum number of queens is nine, since players start out with eight pawns and one queen.
Let’s apply that principle to our example, and promote yet another pawn (g7 – g8):
Obviously, you don’t really need to get that extra queen to win. White practically already won the game. But why not have some fun? White now owns a grand total of three queens at the same time:
If white would really want to annoy their opponent, they could go for a fourth queen as well. Just move that pawn on h6 towards the eighth rank. That’s how white could even get four queens here.
Fair warning: don’t get overly excited once you get all those extra queens out. The opponent could still try to force a stalemate. So keep the king in check constantly once you start attacking with those queens.
Upside Down Rook As A Queen
There’s a practical problem with promoting a pawn. Where do you get that extra queen from? Chess sets usually don’t come with two queens of the same color.
If you don’t have more chess pieces laying around there are a few solutions to ‘make’ an extra queen piece:
- Take a leftover rook and place it upside-down (only take unused rooks);
- Get a second set of chess pieces and look for a queen of the same color;
- Use another previously captured piece and declare it to be a queen (place it sideways to avoid confusion);
- Collect a piece from a checkers set and declare it to be a queen;
- Find a piece of paper and draw a queen figure on it (use the ♕ symbol if possible).
Note that a player can also decide to promote a pawn into an extra rook, bishop, or knight. So you have to communicate with your opponent to know which piece is what! You don’t want to create any confusion or frustration among players.
During a tournament or a friendly chess club match, more chess sets are usually available. Simply ask your chess coach or the tournament organization for another queen piece. If you play with a clock, make sure to pause the time beforehand. You don’t want to flag yourself and lose the game that way.