Queen (chess)

Queen (chess)

The queen (unicode|♕,unicode|♛) is the most powerful piece in the game of chess. Each player starts the game with one queen, placed in the middle of their first rank next to their king. The white queen starts on a white square, and the black queen on a black square, thus the mnemonic "queen gets her color" or "queen on color". In algebraic notation, the white queen starts on d1, and the black queen on d8.

In the historical ancestors of chess, shatranj, the queen was a fairly weak piece called a "fers" or vizier, only able to move or capture one square in a diagonal direction. The modern queen's move arose in 15th century Europe.

The piece is archaically known as the "minister".


Chess diagram|=
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Initial placement of the queens.
Chess diagram|=
=8 |__|__|__|xw|__|__|__|xw|=7 |xw|__|__|xw|__|__|xw|__|=6 |__|xw|__|xw|__|xw|__|__|=5 |__|__|xw|xw|xw|__|__|__|=4 |xw|xw|xw|ql|xw|xw|xw|xw|=3 |__|__|xw|xw|xw|__|__|__|=2 |__|xw|__|xw|__|xw|__|__|=1 |xw|__|__|xw|__|__|xw|__|= a b c d e f g h
Possible moves of the queen are shown.|

The queen can be moved any number of unoccupied squares in a straight line vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, thus combining the moves of the rook and bishop. The queen captures by occupying the square on which an enemy piece sits.

General remarks

Ordinarily the queen is slightly more powerful than a rook and a bishop together, while slightly less powerful than two rooks. It is almost always disadvantageous to exchange the queen for a piece other than the enemy's queen.

The queen is at her most powerful when the board is open, when the enemy king is not well-defended, or when there are "loose" (i.e. undefended) pieces in the enemy camp. Because of her long range and ability to move in more than one direction, the queen is well-equipped to execute forks.

Beginners often develop the queen as soon as possible, in the hopes of plundering the enemy position and possibly even delivering an early checkmate. This strategy is disadvantageous against experienced players. With no other pieces developed, an attack by the queen alone can be easily repelled. Moreover, because the queen is too valuable to exchange for a lesser piece, the defender can often gain time and space by threatening an exposed queen and forcing her to retreat. Nonetheless, the Scandinavian Defence, which in the main line features queen moves by Black on the second and third moves, is considered sound and has been played at world championship level. Even the Parham Attack (1.e4 e5 2.Qh5!?), which is widely considered a chess opening suitable only for beginners, has occasionally been played by the strong American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura.

An exchange of queens often marks the beginning of the endgame, although there is such a thing as a queen endgame. Due to the multiplicity of queen moves available, and the possibility of perpetual check, queen endgames are notoriously difficult to win.


The queen was originally the "fers" and had a quite different movement. Initially it could move only one square diagonally. About 1300 it was allowed to jump like a knight once in the game. This rule was used in Turkey and Russia until the 18th Century. At one time, the "fers" could move like any other piece (the move of the bishop was restricted at the time). By 1600 the move had taken its modern form harvcol|Davidson|1981|pp=13-14,28-30.

ee also

* Chess piece
* Eight queens puzzle
* Staunton chess set
* Chess piece point value
* Queen versus pawn endgame
* promotion (chess)


author=Brace, Edward R.
title=An Illustrated Dictionary of Chess
publisher=Hamlyn Publishing Group

author=Barden, Leonard
title=Play better CHESS with Leonard Barden
publisher=Octopus Books Limited

title=A Short History of Chess (1949)
id=ISBN 0-679-14550-8

* citation
last=Golombek | first=Harry |author-link=Harry Golombek
title=Golombek's Encyclopedia of Chess
publisher=Crown Publishing

* citation
last1=Hooper | first1=David | authorlink1=David Vincent Hooper
last2=Whyld | first2=Kenneth | authorlink2=Kenneth Whyld
title=The Oxford Companion to Chess
publisher=Oxford University Press

* citation
last=Sunnucks | first=Anne |authorlink=Anne Sunnucks
title=The Encyclopaedia of Chess
publisher=St. Martins Press

External links

* [http://www.chessvariants.org/piececlopedia.dir/queen.html Piececlopedia: Queen] by Fergus Duniho and Hans Bodlaender.

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