Among the six types of pieces in chess, the queen is the most powerful and versatile one, capable of moving and capturing in any direction.
In this blog post, we will explore why the queen is so dominant, how it can be used effectively, and some interesting facts and history about this remarkable piece.
How the Queen Moves
The queen can move any number of squares vertically, horizontally or diagonally, combining the powers of the rook and bishop. This means that the queen can control up to 27 squares at once, more than any other piece. The queen can also capture any enemy piece that is on its path, by moving to the occupied square. However, the queen cannot jump over other pieces, so it needs an open or semi-open line to operate.
Here is an example of how the queen moves:
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 The white queen on d4 can move to any of the squares marked with X: a b c d e f g h 8 X X X X X X X X 8 7 X X X X X X X X 7 6 X X X X X X X X 6 5 X X X X X X X X 5 4 X O O O O O O O 4 3 X O O O O O O O 3 2 O O O O O O O O 2 1 O O O O O O O O 1 a b c d e f g h The black queen on d8 can move to any of the squares marked with Y: a b c d e f g h 8 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 8 7 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 7 6 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 6 5 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y 5 4 Y O O O O O O O 4 3 Y O O O O O O O 3 2 Y O O O O O O O 2 1 Y O O O O O O O 1 a b c d e f g h
How to Use the Queen Effectively
The queen is a powerful piece, but it also needs protection and coordination with other pieces. Here are some tips on how to use the queen effectively:
- Develop your queen early, but not too early. The queen can be a useful piece in the opening, as it can support your center pawns, threaten weak spots in the enemy camp, and create pressure on the opponent’s king. However, if you bring out your queen too early, you risk exposing it to attacks from minor pieces (bishops and knights), which can force you to waste time and lose initiative. A general rule of thumb is to develop your minor pieces first, then move your queen to a safe and active square.
- Don’t overuse your queen. The queen is a valuable piece, but it cannot do everything by itself. If you rely too much on your queen, you may neglect your other pieces and create weaknesses in your position. Moreover, if your queen is too far away from your king, it may not be able to defend it in case of an attack. Therefore, try to balance your use of the queen with your other pieces, and don’t let your queen get isolated or trapped.
- Exchange your queen wisely. Sometimes, it may be beneficial to exchange your queen for another piece or a combination of pieces. For example, if you have a material advantage, you may want to simplify the position by trading queens and reducing the chances of a counterattack. Or, if you have a strong attack against the enemy king, you may sacrifice your queen for a decisive checkmate. However, you should always calculate carefully before exchanging your queen, as it may also backfire if you lose too much initiative or compensation. A common mistake is to exchange your queen for a rook and a minor piece, which is usually not enough unless you have a clear advantage.
Some Interesting Facts and History About the Queen
The queen has not always been the most powerful piece in chess. In fact, the predecessor of 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.
The queen is also known by different names in different languages and cultures. For example, in French, it is called la dame (the lady), in German, it is called die Dame (the dame), in Russian, it is called ферзь (ferz), which comes from the Persian word for counselor, and in Arabic, it is called الملكة (al-malika), which means the queen.
The queen is also a symbol of creativity and elegance in chess. Many famous chess players have demonstrated their mastery of the queen in their games, such as Paul Morphy, Mikhail Tal, Garry Kasparov, Judit Polgar, and Magnus Carlsen. Some of the most beautiful and brilliant moves in chess history involve the use of the queen, such as sacrifices, forks, pins, skewers, and checkmates.
Here is an example of a stunning queen sacrifice by Paul Morphy against Duke Karl of Brunswick and Count Isouard in Paris in 1858:
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 Morphy played Qxb7!! sacrificing his queen for two pawns and a devastating attack: a b c d e f g h 8 ♜ . ♝ Q♚♞♜ 8 7 ♟♟♟.♟.♟♟ 7 6 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 6 5 .. .. ..♙♙.. .. .. 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 rook or knight, then white plays Nxe6+ followed by Nxc7+ with a double check and mate. If he moves his king to e8 or d8, then white plays Nc6+ followed by Rd8# or Bg5#. If he moves his king to f8 or g8, then white plays Ng5+ followed by Ne6# or Bc4#. Black resigned after Qxb7.
Conclusion on Why Queen is the Most Powerful Chess Piece
The queen is the most powerful piece in chess, as it can move and capture in any direction and control many squares at once. However, the queen also needs protection and coordination with other pieces, and should not be overused or exchanged unwisely. The queen has a rich history and culture behind it, and has been used to create some of the most amazing moves and games in chess. The queen is truly a remarkable piece that deserves respect and admiration.
(1) Queen (chess) – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_%28chess%29.
(2) Queen – Chess Terms – Chess.com. https://www.chess.com/terms/chess-queen.
(3) What Is the Queen Chess Piece? How to Move Queens. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/what-is-the-queen-chess-piece.
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.