The Chess board Layout: 7 Clear Steps –

chess board layout
how to carve chess pieces

The chess board is one of the most important components of the game of chess. It is the platform on which battles are waged, brilliancies are born, and immortal games are created. Without a chess board, the game of chess would not exist. It is the foundation on which the castles of imagination are built.

However, the chess boards we know today did not just appear like it is presently. The chess board has evolved over time to represent the development of the game of chess across different eras.

The Evolution Of Chess Boards

The first recorded model of the chessboard was the Ashtāpada board. This board was used to play a variety of games, among them the chaturanga game. Chaturanga was a historical predecessor to chess, and it began in the 6th century in India.

The Ashtāpada board had a single color for all its squares and was divided into 8 columns by 8 rows, with marked squares called castles in the corners of each quadrant.

The chess board we use today got its chequered pattern in the 10th century, when chess arrived on the European continent. This pattern was derived from that of the 5×5 draughts board that was used in those days.

As a result of the change, each diagonal on the board was then highlighted by a continuous sequence of the same colored squares. This change later brought about the introduction of the modern bishop and queen movements in the 15th century.

What Are Chess Boards Made Of? 

Chess boards are made to suit the needs and tastes of different classes of players. Some chess players, especially beginners, prefer educational and illustrative boards. In high-level chess, wood-crafted boards are the most preferred. Lovers of movies and books enjoy chess boards that embody a particular theme, and some chess players (usually the rich) prefer elegant and expensive boards for decorative purposes.

To satisfy the preference of the chess community, boards are made of different materials and range in size, appearance, and price while still maintaining the standard 64-squared, 8 rows by 8 columns board orientation.

Chess boards come in different forms. Some are made of wood, glass, and vinyl, some chess boards are engraved in stone, and others are made of precious stones like diamonds.

However, notwithstanding all the differences in build, every chess board maintains one single non-changeable pattern, and that is the chess board layout.

What Is A Chess Board Layout? 

The chess board layout is the correct organization, arrangement, and placement of a chess board and its pieces. The game of chess is one of technicality. Therefore, even a little error in the arrangement of chess pieces will affect the entire game. Because of the technical nature of chess, a player needs to understand the chess board layout. This article will go through the step-by-step method of a chess board layout.

The Chess Board

The chessboard is the surface on which chess is played. It consists of 64 squares, eight rows by eight columns, on which the chess pieces are placed. It is square and uses two colors of squares, one light, and one dark, in a checkered pattern.

The columns of a chessboard are known as files, the rows are known as ranks, and the lines of adjoining same-colored squares (each running from one edge of the board to an adjacent edge) are known as diagonals.

Each board square is named using algebraic, descriptive, or numeric chess notation; algebraic notation is the FIDE (FIDE is the acronym for the International Chess Federation) standard.

In algebraic notation, using White’s perspective, files are labeled a through h from left to right, and ranks are labeled 1 through 8 from bottom to top; each square is identified by the file and rank which it occupies. The a- through d-files comprise the queenside, while the e- through h-files comprise the kingside.

Now that we’ve explained what a chess board is, let’s move on to the chess board layout. 

The Chess Board Layout

In explaining the chess board layout, we will go through the whole process, step-by-step. 

Step 1: Set Up The Board With The Light Square In The Bottom-right Corner. 

Chess Board Layout

When setting up a chess board, it is very important to position it in the right direction so that each side will align correctly. A simple hack to remember this rule is to always remember that the right-hand side is always white. 

Step 2: Place The Pawns On The Second Ranks

Chess Board Layout

Placing all the pawns on the second rank helps reduce the cluttering of the other pieces (as the pawns are more in number than any other piece) and makes it easier to place them on the board. 

Step 3: Place The Rooks In The Corners.

Screenshot 20220616 132749 lichess

Next, the rooks should be placed in the corners of the board. There are four rooks, and each of them goes into a corner. 

Step 4: Place The Knights Next To The Rooks. 

Screenshot 20220619 230606 lichess

The knights are then placed next to the rooks. Each knight is placed next to a rook. There are four knights on the board, meaning one knight per rook. 

Step 5: The Bishops Are Next To The Knights.

Screenshot 20220616 132831 lichess

Next, the Bishops come on the board alongside the knights. Both white and black have two bishops. The two bishops are of a light and dark square, putting them next to the knights to ensure they stay on their correct squares. 

Step 6: The Queen Goes On Her Color

Chess board layout

The queen comes next and is placed in the same color she wears. This means that the white queen is placed on a white square, and a black queen is placed on a black square.  

Step 7: Place The King On The Last Square.  

Chess board layout

At this point, there should be only one square left on each side. The kings are then placed on the squares. 

Step 8: You’re All Set, White Moves First!

At this point, your chess board layout is correct, and you’re ready to play the beautiful game. However, it is important to note that the player with the white pieces moves first.

Common Mistakes In A Chess Board Layout

Placing Chess Pieces On The Wrong Squares

Placing pieces on the wrong squares is a common mistake, especially among beginners. When setting up your chess board, make sure to place the pieces on the correct squares based on their starting positions.

Incorrect Board Orientation

The chess board should be correctly oriented so that the white king is placed on a white square and the black king on a black square. If a board is not properly oriented, it can lead to confusion and mistakes by both players during the game.

Having Missing Or Extra Pieces On The Chess Board

When setting up your chessboard, you should always check to make sure all the chess pieces are present and have been accounted for before the game starts. Also, it is very important to ensure that there are no extra pieces on the board when the game is going on so as to prevent confusion.

Not Properly Aligning Chess Pieces

Each piece should be centered on its square and facing in the correct direction. Misaligned pieces can make it difficult to see the board clearly and can lead to mistakes.

Placing The Queens On Wrong Colors

The queens should always be placed on their respective colors. This means that from the starting position, the white queen must be on a white square and the black queen on a black square. Placing the queens on the wrong colors will lead to confusion and mistakes during the game.

Incorrect Notation

When using a chess board that has notation labels, it is important to make sure they are correct and in the proper orientation. When the notations are incorrect, it will cause disruption in a chess game and lead to all sorts of mistakes.

When you avoid these common mistakes, you will be able to correctly perform the chess board layout and play the game of chess in the right way.

Specifics Of A Chess Board


A standard chess board is designed with a total of 64 squares, with eight rows and eight columns. Each square is usually 2.25 to 2.5 inches wide, making the entire board approximately 18 to 20 inches wide. However, there are various sizes of chess boards available on the market, depending on the intended use, from miniature travel boards to large outdoor sets, children’s and beginner-friendly boards, and even decoration chess boards.


Chess boards usually come in two colors, a light, and a dark color. The traditional chess board colors are white and black. However, other colors can be used as well. The most important aspect when it comes to chess board color is the contrast between them. This makes it possible to distinguish pieces and makes the game easier to play.


The chess board is divided into a grid of eight rows and eight columns, creating a total of 64 squares. Each square has a unique coordinate system based on its row and column. For example, the square in the bottom-left corner is called a1, while the square in the top-right corner is h8.

Algebraic Notation

The coordinates of the squares are used in algebraic notation, which is a common method of recording moves in chess. Each piece has its own symbol. The king is represented with the letter K, the queen with the letter Q, the rook with the letter R, the Knight with the letter N and the Bishop with the letter B. The pawn is not usually assigned a letter. The letters on the board are usually used to assign pawn moves.

Notation Labels

In addition to algebraic notation, some chess boards have notation labels on the sides or bottom of the board to help players keep track of moves. These labels use numbers and letters to indicate the rows and columns of the squares.

Square Size

The size of the squares can affect the ease of play and the overall appearance of the board. A smaller square size can make it more challenging to maneuver the pieces, while a larger square size can make the board appear more impressive.

Symbolism Of The Chess Board Layout

Chess is usually seen as a metaphor for life, with the pieces representing different aspects of human experience. The chess board layout brilliantly encompasses the connection between the game of chess and life in the following ways:

Symmetry Of The Board

The symmetry of the chess board is a very important symbol. It represents balance and order, and suggests that both sides of the game are equally matched.

Piece Placement

The placement of the chess pieces on the board can also be seen as symbolic. The king and queen, for example, are positioned at the center of the board, representing their importance in the game. The pawns, on the other hand, are positioned at the front lines, like foot soldiers in a war, symbolizing their expendability.

The Board Is A Battlefield

The chess board itself can be seen as a symbolic representation of a battlefield. The pieces are the soldiers, the king is the commander-in-chief, and the players are the generals. The layout of the board thus becomes a symbolic representation of the strategic and tactical challenges of warfare.

Chess Board Decorations

Some chess boards feature intricate decorations, such as carved designs or inlaid patterns. These can have their own symbolic meanings, such as representing cultural or historical themes.

The Colors Of The Chess Board

The contrasting colors of a chess board (usually black and white or dark and light wood) can represent opposing forces, such as good versus evil, light versus dark, or even positive versus negative energy.

Chess Board Maintenance

Now that you understand how a chess board layout should be done, it is important to understand how to keep your chess board in perfect condition.

Proper maintenance of a chess board is important for keeping it in good condition and preserving its beauty and functionality. Here are some tips for keeping your chess board in the best shape:

Clean The Board Regularly

Dust and dirt can accumulate on a chess board over time, which can dull its finish and scratch the surface. To clean a chess board, use a soft, lint-free cloth and gently wipe the surface in a circular motion. If there are any stains or spills, use a damp cloth to clean them up, but make sure to dry the surface completely afterward.

Avoid Excessive Heat or Moisture

Chess boards should be kept away from direct sunlight or heat sources such as radiators or fireplaces. High temperatures can cause the wood to warp or crack, and excessive moisture can cause the wood to swell or develop mold.

Store The Board Properly

When not in use, store the chess board in a dry place with moderate temperatures, such as a closet or storage cabinet. Avoid storing the board in an area that is exposed to direct sunlight or dampness.

Protect The Board During Transport

If you need to transport a chess board, make sure to wrap it in a soft cloth or bag to protect it from scratches or bumps.

By following these tips, you can keep your chess board in great condition for years to come!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the standard size of a chess board?

The standard size of a chess board is 8×8 inches, with individual squares measuring 1×1 inches. However, there are various sizes of chess boards available, from miniature travel sets to large tournament-sized boards.

What are the most common materials used to make chess boards?

Chess boards can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, plastic, marble, and glass. Wood is the most traditional material used for chess boards, while plastic and other synthetic materials are popular for their durability and affordability.

Can I customize my own chess board?

Yes, you can customize your own chess board with unique designs, logos, or personal touches. Some chess board manufacturers offer custom-made boards, while others provide DIY (Do It Yourself) options for people who want to create their own unique designs.

Do I need a specific type of chess board for tournament play?

Yes, if you plan to play in official tournaments, you will need a chess board that meets the standard size and specification requirements set by the governing body of the tournament, known as FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs) The board should also have clear and easily identifiable markings on the squares.

How can I improve my chess board layout skills?

Improving your chess board layout skills involves paying attention to detail and practicing regularly. Take time to study the standard layout conventions and familiarize yourself with the correct placement of the pieces. Practice setting up the board and double-checking the layout before beginning a game. You can also find online resources and tutorials to help you improve your skills.

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