By Angelo DeSantis
Bobby Fischer loved attacking as White with his light-squared bishop. Many beautiful combinations have either been initiated by bishop sacrifices or finished off with bishop mates. No competent chess player will dispute the awesome power of the bishop pair.
Chess.com’s FM Mike Klein even made a video series about stunning bishop moves that you absolutely should watch before judging this piece.
Despite all these good things, the fact remains that the bishop is the only piece restricted to a single color, and can move to just half the squares on the board.
By Chris Overcash
The stronger a chess player you are, the more you appreciate the knight. The knight is perhaps the most aptly named chess piece, as it’s perfectly suited for brutal close combat.
Unlike the long-range bishop or the heavy artillery of the queen and rook, the knight is not afraid to get up-close-and-personal in doing its job. The knight pairs particularly well with the queen, working together to control almost every important square in the attack.
But it’s not all accolades for the knight, either. Almost as soon as beginning players learn to stop calling their knights “horses,” they find themselves getting forked and mated by the tricky piece when employed by more experienced players.
Even for the strongest players, the knight is not the best piece, as illustrated by GM Dejan Bojkov’s video series on the weaknesses of the knight.
By Richard Paterson
It’s a little silly even ranking the king, of course, since it’s the most important piece and you have to be serious about keeping it safe. But can you have fun using a king?
Sure you can. While kings must often stay hidden away in the opening and middlegame, in the endgame they can become juggernaut attacking pieces.
Rarely, you can have fun with a king much earlier in the game. You haven’t lived as a chess player until you’ve castled for checkmate.
By Alan Cleaver
Maybe you’re surprised to see the lowly pawn ranked so well on this list. But no less an authority than Francois Philidor said “pawns are the soul of chess.”
Pawns have lots of unique powers that make them fun to play with. They are the only piece that captures differently from how they move. Pawns also cannot go backward, which makes them fun to charge forward.
Finally, pawns can “score a touchdown” by reaching the eighth rank and promoting into a queen — or even more fun — underpromoting.
By Matt Zhang
There’s no disputing that the queen is the most mobile and therefore most powerful piece on the board. Combining the movements of the bishop and the rook, the queen can reach almost any square on the board very quickly, often by multiple routes.
Beginners love using their queens — often too much — bringing them out too early, and making them vulnerable to attack.
Once players begin to realize how careful they must protect their queens, almost like a second king, much of the fun is taken out of using the piece. GM Mikhail Tal clearly did not have this problem, as he loved sacrificing his queen to achieve checkmate or otherwise winning positions.
By Christopher Irwin
The rook is my favorite chess piece, and I suspect many players agree with me. The rook has a simple, almost minimalist movement: as far as it wants, in a straight line.
Rooks are the most difficult piece to develop in the opening, but nothing beats the satisfaction of completing your development by finally castling, connecting rooks, and moving them to their ideal files.
In the middlegame, rooks are continually threatening to blast open the castled king’s position, sacrifice themselves for a bishop or knight, or support the queen or another rook in a deadly battery.
It’s in the endgame, though, where rooks really rule. Often the only survivors left with a few straggling pawns and the kings, rooks control huge swaths of the board, swinging the game’s result at their whim.