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Marc Cressac; Chess Fact-Checked by Marc Cressac | Updated 2022-06-06
Founder of Chessily.com

Which Chess Piece Moves Diagonally?

You might ask yourself which chess pieces are allowed to move diagonally. Well, you’re in luck! In this quick guide, we’ll tell you exactly that, and dive a bit deeper into the movement all all pieces, that can slide across the chess board in diagonal lines.

The Bishop Moves Only Diagonally

The first piece we’ll look at in detail is the bishop. The bishop is the sole chess piece that can only move diagonally! Officially, the movement of the bishop is described as follows: The bishop may move any number of unoccupied squares in any diagonal direction. Meaning, the bishop always moves along the chess board in straight, diagonal lines. Here is an example of the bishop moving across the board:

Bishop Movement in Chess
Movement of a Bishop Visualized

As you can see, the bishop is a rather simple piece regarding his movement. Altough, a lot of chess pieces can move in diagonal lines, the bishop is the only one that really perfects this ability, as he can only move diagonally along the squares.

The Queen May Move Diagonally

The queen is well-known to be the strongest of all six chess pieces, thanks to her impressive agility and flexibility while moving around the playing field. Esentially, she combines to movement of the rook (which can move any number of squares in a horizontal or vertical direction) and bishop (which can move any desired amount of squares diagonally). Meaning, the queen can move along the chess board any number of vacant squares, in any horizontal, vertical or diagonal direction. With that, she is the most mobile chess piece!

queen movement in chess
queen movement in chess

The King Can Move Diagonally As Well

Now we’re really stretching the definition of moving diagonally; but in a sense the king can also move on a diagonal. The rules of chess allow the king to move one square vertically, horizontally or diagonally (that are not attacked by an enemy piece) at a time. In turn, the king can only reach squares that are directly next to him. This animation shows the exact movement possibilities of the king in chess:

Movement of the King in Chess
Movement of the King in Chess: The King can Move One Square in Every Direction

Now, technically, this is moving in a diagonal direction. However, unlike the bishop or queen, the king is not allowed to move more than one square diagonally, severely limiting his reach across the board. The king is a slower gentlemen; so be patient with him.

The Pawn Can Capture Diagonally

Finishing off our list, we will have a look at the weakest piece in chess: The pawn! Now, you might be confused: “The pawn can only move in a straight line, right?” – well, you are correct. However, the pawn can capture pieces that stand diagonally in front of him. Similarly to the king, the pawn is also just allowed to capture pieces that stand one square in front of him diagonally:

pawn movement in chess
The Pawn Can Capture Other Pieces Diagonally Forwards

In addition to the regular captures the pawn can perform, he has another special trick up is sleeve. The pawn can capture other pawns diagonally by capturing them en passant – French for “in passing”.

Here is a quick explanation of capturing en passant:

  1. Both pawns must occupy the same rank (i. e. stand in line horizontally).
  2. Both pawns must occupy adjacent files (i. e. stand directly beside each other).
  3. The enemy pawn moved two squares on the previous move.

If (and only if) these three rules are met, you can immediately capture the enemy’s pawn diagonally in front, as if it only moved forward one square. We have a full guide on en passant on our website, if you’re interested.

What About the Rook and Knight?

Well, unfortunately, both rook and knight are not allowed to move diagonally in any capacity. Still, four out of the six different pieces in chess can move diagonally in one way or another.

Read More About The Bishop

Read More About The Queen

Read More About The King

Read More About The Pawn

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