How To Use The Queen & Bishop In Chess: Be A Pro

The Queen begins the game of chess set in the middle of the board, on d1 for White and d8 for Black. It is the most mobile of the pieces, able to move in straight and diagonal lines through open squares, and can take pieces in the same manner.

The power of the Queen is perhaps best demonstrated by the fact that if centrally placed, she can control up to 27 squares on an empty board.

Playing With The Queen​

The Queen During Opening Plays

Despite the temptation to utilise the Queen's considerable powers sooner rather than later, it is best to keep her in a relatively conservative position during the opening phases of the game.

In general, moving the Queen beyond the third rank in the early stages opens the piece to attack from opposition pawns and other minor pieces, which can result in considerable lost time dodging attacks.

This can also lead to the Queen becoming bogged down or even trapped, restricting her movement and effectiveness in the later phases.

The Queen's great range of movement means she can be used as an effective support piece in the development phase, covering advancing pawns and other pieces while the player sets out their positions.

Once the middle phase of the game is underway and the board is more open, the Queen comes into her own as an attacking piece.

The Queen in the Middle and End Game

The Queen's unique ability to move great distances in both straight and diagonal lines means that she can be used to great effect to attack multiple pieces - attacking undefended units in this manner almost guarantees winning one of them.

As more pieces are taken and the board opens up, the Queen's powers only increase - she can threaten pieces from great distance and positions of relative safety.

Due to the significance of the Queen for both players, a lot of play is often focused around her capture; however this is often only achieved through the equal loss of one's own Queen. Dictating the point at which this exchange occurs, however, can be a great tactical advantage in itself.

Sacrificing the Queen

While players will almost always look to either keep their Queen or at the very least only surrender it in exchange for their opponent's Queen, removing the advantage from both, this is not a completely rigid rule.

It is acceptable to surrender the Queen for a significant gain in either material or position, and tactically there are perhaps few surer ways of dictating an opponent's play than by offering the Queen as bait.

Playing With Bishops​

Bishops begin the game of chess set between the King and Queen and the Knights, on c1 and f1 for White, and c8 and f8 for Black.

They move in diagonal lines through unoccupied squares, taking pieces in the same fashion, and this means that a Bishop will always occupy the same colour of square as it started out on. White and Black both start the game with a 'white' and a 'black' Bishop.

Bishops in the Opening Game

While in the crowded conditions of the opening game Bishops are far from their most effective, being better suited to a more open board, they should nonetheless be developed as quickly as possible - not least to clear space at the back to allow castling.

Open diagonals are key to this piece, and the Bishop can often be hampered by the positioning of his own defence as much as by that of the opposition; it is hence best to plan ahead and set out their positioning early on, to avoid blocking the advance of both pawns and Bishops.

Bishops are effective workmen throughout the game, and can be well employed in the early stages supporting other advances as well as pinning hostile enemy Knights.

Some good opening moves for Bishops include c4/f4, b5/g5, and b2/g2; the latter is known as the 'fianchetto', a strong defensive position where the Bishop sits on the second rank behind a single advanced pawn, able to control the centre of the board.

Bishops in the Middle and End Game

Bishops come into their own in the closing stages of the game, as their movement allows them to control large swathes of the board and threaten opposing pieces from relatively safe positions.

It is a piece that can serve multiple purposes in the later stages of the game, including preventing enemy pawn advances as well as supporting the advance of one's own pawns.

The colour of square a Bishop occupies can often be key, however, as if a player is left with a white Bishop then their opponent can make his pieces safe by positioning them on black squares, and vice versa.

A good maxim to remember is that when a game finishes with each player sporting only a Bishop and pawns, if the Bishops lie on opposing colours the game tends to be drawn (even if one player is a pawn or even two ahead).

A player in a poor position in the end game can thus rescue a draw by seeking to engineer these circumstances.

Bishops are an important piece to master in the game of chess, as their diagonal movement can hold the key to unlocking opposition defences which are strongly built against direct attacks.

While it is advisable to develop them quickly and utilise their talents throughout the game, their powers are at their peak in the end-game when they can support and defend against pawn promotion as well as threaten pieces from a safe distance.

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