The Bishop in Chess ♗: Exhaustive Guide

The bishop is a unique piece in chess, as it can move only diagonally. Since they are locked into moving on either light or dark squares, each player has a light-square and a dark-square bishop to start the game with. The bishop considered a long-range piece that can be deadly, especially when attacking with both of them. So let’s take a closer look at what makes this chess piece special and how you can use it to crush your opponent 💀.

Position of the Bishops on the Board

Each player starts with two bishops. White’s bishops start the game on squares c1 and f1, while Black’s bishops occupy squares c8 and f8. See the following picture for a visual representation of the respective starting positions:

The Bishop Starting Position in Chess
Starting Position of the Four Bishops

As said, each player has a dark-square, and a white-square bishop, that will remain on their respective square color for the whole game. For White, the c1-bishop is the dark-squared bishop, while the f1-bishop is the light-squared bishop. In turn, Blacks c8-bishop is the light-squared bishop, whereas the f8-bishop will always move on the dark squares.

In the starting position the bishops are surrounded by knights, pawns, as well as the king, and queen.

Bishop Movement in Chess

The rules of chess state, that the bishop can move any number of (unoccupied) squares in a diagonal direction. To put it into layman’s terms: The bishop always moves in diagonal lines across the board. You can get a sense for the bishops movement with the animation below:

Bishop Movement in Chess
Movement of a Bishop Visualized

While most of the chess pieces can move diagonally in some capacity, the bishop is the only piece that exclusively moves in this manner. That means that a single bishop can never reach every square on the board. But both of them combined can cover the whole chess board.

The only restriction the bishop faces in its movement is its inability to jump over pieces 🦘. That means the bishop can be blocked by your own pieces, when they stand in his way. Similarly, it is not possible for the bishop to attack “past your own pieces”, when they stand in the way.

General Information on the Bishop

The bishop is considered a minor piece, alongside the knight. When noting your chess moves, the Bishop is indicated with the letter B. Lucky for you, the bishop does not have any special moves that you need to remember. Poor guy! 😕

Value of the Bishops

The bishop has a relative value of three pawns. However, the value of the bishop is very dependant on the position at hand. There are certain instances, where a well-placed bishop can be worth a lot more than three pawns.

Checkmating with Bishops

You should, however, remember that it is not possible to checkmate your opponent with only a bishop and a king. You need at least two bishops and a king to deliver a checkmate; however, the process is quite complicated and shouldn’t be a priority to learn for a beginner. A two-bishop checkmate could look something like this:

two bishop checkmate
A Checkmate With Two Bishops and the King

3 Tips for Using Your Bishops Optimally

  1. Bishops Are Long-Range Pieces – Make Sure to Place Them On Open Diagonals
  2. A Bishop Pair Can Be Deadly, Preserve It if You Can
  3. If You Only Have One Bishop Left, Place Your Pawns on the Opposite Color Squares to Enable Bishop-Movement

Bishop – Frequently Asked Questions

  • How Does the Bishop Move in Chess?
    The bishop can move any number of vacant squares in any diagonal direction.
  • Can the Bishop Move Backwards?
    Yes, the bishop can move in any direction diagonally, including backwards.
  • Can the Bishop Jump Over Other Pieces?
    No, the bishop is not allowed to jump over other pieces.
  • How Many Pawns is the Bishop Worth?
    The bishop is worth the equivalent of three pawns.
  • Can You Checkmate with Two Bishops?
    Yes, you can checkmate your opponent with two bishops and a king.
  • Read More About the Bishop in Chess