Frequently Asked Questions About the Game of Chess

If you’re someone who’s relatively new to the timeless game of chess, you’re likely to have quite a few questions that you need answering. Questions from which is the best chessboard, to what are the pieces of chess called? There’s much you can learn about the pastime to enhance your enjoyment of it.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Game of Chess

In our line of work, we get asked an awful lot of questions about the most widely played game in human history. Whilst we can’t cover absolutely everything in this blog about the interesting facts surrounding chess boards and chess sets, what we can do is answer some of the questions that people ask the most about the subject online. To that end, we have put together the following frequently asked questions with accompanying answers.

You won’t be an expert by reading to the end of, but if doing so piques your interest enough to lead to a long-term appreciation for the game, then it’s well worth your time.  So, sit back, pour yourself a nice big cup of tea, and let’s begin!

 chess pieces

Getting to Know Your Chess Pieces

Just as important as knowing how to play chess is having the right equipment with which to enjoy the game. Here we look at questions that relate to equipping yourself with the chess sets, chess pieces and boxes. So, let’s take a dive in.

In this section, we answer some questions that help you to gain an understanding of the chess pieces you’ll be using when you play.

 How many pieces are in a chess set?

Regardless of the type of chess set, you’re talking about, a chess set will have a total of 32 pieces, with 16 white and 16 black pieces on either side of the chessboard.

 Are some chess pieces more important than others?

Well, they’re all pretty important to your overall strategy, but the King is the most important, as if you lose it, you’ll lose the game.

 What are the pieces of chess called and does each piece move differently?

Each type of chess piece has a specific way it’s able to move about the chess board. Let’s have a look at that in closer detail.

The Pawn

Lining up at the front of your pieces, you have a row of eight pawns, which are able to move forwards one space at a time unless taking an opposing piece, which leads to the pawn moving diagonally.

The Castles

Your Rooks (a.k.a. Your castles) can move horizontally or vertically over as many squares as the player requires (so long as its path isn’t blocked).

The Bishops

Moving diagonally in any of the four ways that are possible, your bishops have a long-range like your rooks and are often used to protect your pawns while threatening your opponent’s pawns.

The Knights

Unlike any other chess pieces on the chess board, your knights don’t move in straight lines, rather they are able to move in an “L shape” - either three up and one across or one up and three across (even if its path is blocked).

The Queen

The most useful and powerful piece on the board is your Queen, which can move in any direction over as many squares as the player requires (again, so long as its path is clear).

The King

This is the all-important piece that must be protected at all cost. Whilst it’s vital to keep your King, it has a very restricted range, only able to move one square at a time.

Turns are taken alternately until someone’s King is ultimately captured or ‘checkmate’ is achieved, which basically means that a player’s King becomes trapped and the only possible move is one that will see it captured.

What is the most widely-used type of Chess Piece?

Chess Pieces are obviously as important as the board itself, as, without them, you wouldn’t have much of a game! Most are modelled to the traditional Staunton style, which is the most widely-known type in existence. That said, there are also some amazing contemporary chess sets out there.

The Staunton style is what everyone thinks of when talking about chess pieces and they come in a dazzling choice of materials. From ebony and boxwood to brass and nickel, players get to choose chess pieces that ideally match the aesthetics of your chessboard and feel amazing between the fingers.

What’s the best way to keep your chess pieces safe?

 Whilst not an essential part of chess gameplay, chess boxes provide a neat place to keep your chess pieces and board safe until your next game. They also come in a variety of materials, styles and colours to match the set it’s going to be used with.

The same huge range of choices exists when selecting chess boxes, which are manufactured from premium woods like walnut and mahogany. The ideal choice for your chess set will be determined by its material and colouring and the protection it provides to your pieces.


 chess piece types

Getting to Know Your Chess Board

Are most chess boards the same?

No, they’re not. They may look the same in that they have 32 white squares and 32 black, but chess boards come in a variety of different materials and sizes. Chess boards are iconic and they are made from a wide variety of materials like glass, stone, and plastic, however, they’re mostly manufactured from wood.

Of course, the material a chess board is made from doesn’t affect the game itself, however, it does add much to the experience. High-quality boards made from walnut, maple, and mahogany offer a distinctive and wonderful feel to the touch. In fact, luxury chess boards like this are so aesthetically pleasing that they’re a great room decoration too.

 What is the standard chessboard size? 

Most people believe that all chess boards are created equally, however, that’s not the case, as there are a few different sizes that will typically be used in different situations. For instance, if you bought a tournament chessboard, you might be surprised about how big it is. That’s because a tournament board can be as big as 20 inches x 20 inches - which you might find difficult fitting on your coffee table!

Generally speaking, chessboards for home use will be around 15-18 inches square. The right size for your own particular use will depend largely on the size of your chess pieces. The last thing you want is to get a board that’s too small so that each piece won’t actually fit in its allotted square, as it will be pretty much useless to you!

What are chess boards made of? 

This is another question with more than a single answer, as chess boards come in all types and sizes. Chess as a game has been around for centuries, which means that craftsmen have been inspired to create many different types of the board over the years, made from a range of different materials.

They include:

Laminated cardboard

This material tends to be used for beginner boards or those at the economy or functional end of the market.


There are many beautiful types of wood that have been fashioned into fine chess boards and there are so many wonderful varieties to choose from. There’s walnut, maple, mahogany, and rare types like anegre and padauk.


Another luxurious material that’s used for chess boards is marble. This sturdy material is as stunning as it is durable and they come in some fantastically eye-catching designs.


There are even chess boards that are created from metal. These boards tend to be the more modern or contemporary types that are more about aesthetics than the gameplay.

Again, identifying the best types of the board for your own particular needs will depend a lot on where and how it will be used. That said, it can depend on taste too!

Which is the best chessboard? 

Now, this is quite a difficult one to answer 100% accurately, as it all depends on what you mean by the best chessboard. If you’re talking about the best chess board for your own particular needs, that really does depend on what it is you want from your chess set. For instance, the best chess boards for beginners tend to be basic and easy to set up and clear away.

For example, you might want to play chess on the go - in which case, your ideal chessboard could be of the travel variety so that it can fold away and fit easily into your travel bag. The word ‘best’ doesn’t necessarily have to mean the highest quality, as it could also mean the best for your needs.

That said, if you want your set to be able to double up as an attractive decoration for your home or office, you could opt for a stylish sandalwood or mahogany chessboard that’s about aesthetically pleasing as it gets. Chess boards like these are extremely popular as a gift that can last a lifetime when they’ve properly looked after.

 chess board


Creating a Chess Strategy

Now that we’ve taken a look at all the different chess pieces, we take a brief look at questions that relate to how you go about trying to win. The more you play, the more you’ll realise that’s nothing like the other game that’s played on a chessboard - draughts.

 Is there a key part of the chessboard during a game?

Yes, there is. One of the most crucial parts of the chessboard to occupy is the centre, as you’re able to access the whole board from the middle area. You should do your utmost to control this area throughout the game.

Is it better to be cautious and move your chess pieces sparingly?

Actually, no. Quite the opposite in fact. It might seem like the safe thing to do to reserve your best pieces and leave them where they are, but they’re the ones that will allow you to win the game. In addition to this, by not developing your pieces (i.e. moving them up the chessboard), you allow your opponent to occupy the centre and put yourself at a disadvantage. The only exception to this rule is your Queen.

 Should I use my Queen earlier or later?

That totally depends on what your opponent does, but usually, it’s better to be cautious with your Queen. It can be really tempting to use it, as it has more freedom of movement than any other piece. That said, moving it too early in the game can put you at a big disadvantage. Plus if the intended threat behind you moving your Queen doesn’t come off, you waste a move in getting it back to a safe square.

 Pawns don’t really matter, do they?

Actually, they’re more important than you might think. Many new players think that pawns aren’t all that important, but they provide valuable protection to your more useful chess pieces. They can only be moved forwards too, so any moves your pawn makes can’t be undone. 

Is it better to play quickly or slowly?

Chess is one of the most cerebral games that exist and so you shouldn’t be afraid of taking your time when making your move. Studying the chessboard as the game progresses is the only way to spot aggressive moves by your opponent, so unless you’re playing speed chess, don’t let yourself be rushed. 

Where Can I Find Out More About Chess?

As we mentioned at the beginning, chess is something that captures the imagination and can lead to a lifelong appreciation of the game. To explain chess would take many books, which is perhaps why so many books have been written on the subject throughout history.

Whilst we can’t go into that much depth here, we can provide you with some helpful chess resources you can use to enhance your knowledge of the game. So, let’s have a look at those now.

An excellent place to learn tactics and take part in forums with your fellow chess players. Featuring a searchable database, you can look up famous games by the world’s top players.

Another helpful website that allows you to hone your game by playing against other players and computer-generated opponents online. You can even take lessons here to develop your game.

Anyone looking to improve their game or find out anything else about chess will find lots of blogs on the subject on this site. Covering tactics, history, and more, you’ll never be short of some new chess info!

A great place to look online if you want to help your children to enjoy the game and all the benefits that come with it.

As you can see, there’s much more to chess than be a mere game and when buying your chess equipment, you can really express your own individuality and style. Sure, you can buy a basic board to get you started, but once you get more advanced, there are some simply amazing options available.

 At the Official Staunton Chess Company, we have been supplying our customers with the finest chessboards, chess pieces, and chess boxes that money can buy for over 20 years. If you’d like to see our extensive selection for yourself, why not take a look around our website There you’ll see exactly what’s possible when fine craftsmanship meets the classic game.



And so there you have it. We’ve covered a lot of chess info here, but we’ve only just scratched the surface. Chess is a game that transcends being called a mere board game and it’s something you can spend your whole life playing enjoying. We hope that our guide, although brief, proves helpful in getting you started on your chess journey.

If reading our FAQs has made you want to start playing yourself, you can find more about the finest chess pieces, chess sets, and chess boxes available online, by visiting the home of Staunton at where you’ll find some of the finest chess equipment anywhere. Thanks for reading and happy playing!