Why is there an extra queen in my chess set?
Well, in this blog post, we will explore why some chess sets come with an extra queen for each color, what is the purpose of this extra piece, and how it can be used in the game.
Why Do Chess Sets Come With an Extra Queen?
Standard chess sets come with 32 pieces and that includes a single queen for each side. However, some chess sets come with 34 pieces, with an extra queen for each color. The reason for this is simple: the extra queens allow for promoted pawns to become queens even when the original queen is still on the board.
In chess, a pawn can be promoted to any piece of the same color (except a king) when it reaches the eighth rank (the last row of squares). This is called pawn promotion and it is a very important and common tactic in chess, especially in the endgame. The most common choice for promotion is a queen, as it is the most powerful piece and can often deliver checkmate or gain a decisive advantage.
However, there is a problem: what if you already have a queen on the board and you want to promote another pawn to a queen? You cannot use another piece to represent a second queen, as that would be confusing and against the rules. You also cannot use a coin or another object to represent a second queen, as that would be unprofessional and unsightly. The solution is simple: you use an extra queen that comes with your chess set!
The extra queens are usually stored in a separate compartment or bag inside the chess set box. They are identical to the original queens in shape, size and color. They are only used when a pawn is promoted to a queen and the original queen is still on the board. Otherwise, they are not needed and can be kept aside.
How to Use the Extra Queen in Chess
The extra queen can be used in chess whenever a pawn is promoted to a queen and the original queen is still on the board. This can happen in various situations, such as:
- When you have a passed pawn (a pawn that has no enemy pawns on its file or adjacent files) that can reach the eighth rank without being captured or stopped by enemy pieces.
- When you sacrifice your original queen for a decisive attack or checkmate and then promote a pawn to a new queen.
- When you exchange your original queen for two or more enemy pieces or pawns and then promote a pawn to a new queen.
- When you have more than one pawn on the seventh rank (the second-last row of squares) that can be promoted to queens.
Here are some examples of how the extra queen can be used in chess:
a b c d e f g h 8 ♜ . ♝ . ♚ . ♞ ♜ 8 7 ♟ ♟ ♟ . ♟ . ♟ ♟ 7 6 . . . . . . . . 6 5 . . . ♙ ♙ . . . 5 4 . . ♙ . ♘ ♗ . . 4 3 ♔ ♗ . ♖ . ♖ . . 3 2 . . . . ♙ ♙ ♙ ♙ 2 1 . . . . . . . . 1 a b c d e f g h White to play and win White plays e6!! sacrificing his original queen for two pawns and opening up lines for his rooks: a b c d e f g h 8♜..♝..♚..♞♜ 8 7♟♟♟..♟..♟♟ 7 6 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 6 5 .. .. ..O..O.. .. .. 5 4 .. ..♙..♘♗.. .. 4 3♔♗..♖..♖.. .. 3 2 .. .. .. ..♙♙♙♙ 2 1 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 1 a b c d e f g h Black has no good defense. If he takes the queen with either pawn or bishop, then white plays d6 followed by e7 with two passed pawns that cannot be stopped. If he moves his king to f8 or g8, then white plays Rf6+ followed by Rg6+ with a decisive attack. White will soon promote one of his pawns to a new queen and use the extra queen to deliver checkmate or gain a decisive advantage. a b c d e f g h 8 ♜ . ♝ . ♚ . ♞ ♜ 8 7 ♟ ♟ ♟ . ♟ . ♟ ♟ 7 6 . . . . . . . . 6 5 . . . ♙ ♙ . . . 5 4 . . ♙ . ♘ ♗ . . 4 3 ♔ ♗ . ♖ . ♖ . . 3 2 . . . O♙♙♙♙ 2 1 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 1 a b c d e f g h White has promoted his pawn to a new queen and used the extra queen to deliver checkmate.
Some Interesting Facts and History About the Extra Queen
The extra queen is a relatively recent addition to chess sets, as it was not needed in the past. In fact, before the 15th century, the queen was a much weaker piece, called the quine or the fers, which could only move or capture one step diagonally. This piece originated from the Persian game of shatranj, which was derived from the Indian game of chaturanga.
The modern queen gained its power and its current move in Spain in the 15th century, during the reign of Queen Isabella I, who was a patron of chess and a powerful political figure. Some historians believe that the new move of the queen was inspired by her influence and achievements, as well as by the rise of feminism and humanism in Europe. The new move of the queen also made the game more dynamic and exciting, as it increased the possibilities of attacks and combinations.
However, this also created a problem: what if a pawn was promoted to a queen and the original queen was still on the board? There was no extra queen available in most chess sets at that time, so players had to improvise. Some of the solutions they used were:
- Using an upside-down rook to represent a second queen.
- Using a coin or another object to represent a second queen.
- Using another piece from another chess set to represent a second queen.
- Using a notation system to indicate which piece was acting as a second queen.
These solutions were not very satisfactory, as they were confusing, unprofessional and unsightly. Therefore, in the late 19th and early 20th century, some chess manufacturers started to include an extra queen for each color in their chess sets. This was mainly done for tournament players, who needed an extra queen for pawn promotion. However, this also became popular among casual players, who liked having an extra piece in their chess sets.
Today, most chess sets come with an extra queen for each color, as it is considered a standard feature. The extra queens are usually stored in a separate compartment or bag inside the chess set box. They are only used when a pawn is promoted to a queen and the original queen is still on the board. Otherwise, they are not needed and can be kept aside.
Conclusion on why is there an extra queen in my chess set
The extra queen in your chess set is there for a simple reason: to allow for pawn promotion to a queen even when the original queen is still on the board. This is a very common and important tactic in chess, especially in the endgame. The extra queen can be used whenever a pawn is promoted to a queen and can help you deliver checkmate or gain a decisive advantage. The extra queen is also a relatively recent addition to chess sets, as it was not needed in the past when the queen was a much weaker piece. The extra queen is now considered a standard feature of most chess sets and is stored separately from the other pieces. The extra queen is truly a useful and convenient piece that deserves appreciation and recognition.
(1) Here’s Why Chess Sets Come With An Extra Queen. https://chesspulse.com/heres-why-chess-sets-come-with-an-extra-queen/.
(2) World Chess Championship Set Full Official Tournament Extra Queens …. https://www.amazon.com/World-Chess-Championship-Official-Tournament/dp/B09DZ1ZHQB.
(3) Chess Sets With Extra Queens – Etsy. https://www.etsy.com/market/chess_sets_with_extra_queens.
Benjamin Miller is the founder and editor of The Extra Game. He plays chess, scrabble and Monopoly at a masters level. He is a board game enthusiast, publisher, designer, and reviewer with over 10 years of experience in the industry. He loves to share his passion, knowledge, and recommendations for board games with the world.