Chess Queen: How it Moves, Captures, Checkmates

Chess Queen: How it Moves, Captures, Checkmates

Queen is the most powerful piece in chess.

In this article, we will take a look at the queen in chess. understand how it functions, what it can do, and what are its weaknesses.

What is the queen in chess?

The queen is one of the pieces on the chessboard. A player starts the game with one queen, but it is possible for a player to have 8 queens on the chess board! We’ll take more about this later on.

So where does the queen start? It starts the game on the board next to the king and adjacent to the bishop.

You might want to read 57 Chess Pieces Facts You Must Know.

How does a queen move and capture?

The queen can move and capture in any direction along a straight line as far as possible. This is possible only when her path is not blocked by friendly pieces. She can move any number of squares, both forward and backward, sideways, and diagonally.

For example, if the queen is on e6, she can move to any of the squares along the e-file, the 6th rank, or the diagonals a2-g8 and c8-h3.

How does a queen move and capture?

The Queen can have two types of obstacles in its way: friendly pieces, which cannot be displaced or jumped over, and enemy pieces, which can be captured and removed from the board.

The diagram below shows a position where the Black Queen can capture any one of the eight White pieces, while the Queen itself is not under attack by any of them.

Chess Queen: How it Moves, Captures, Checkmates

Is the queen the most powerful chess piece?

Yes, it is the most powerful piece in chess because of its ability to move in any direction and cover a significant distance. Her versatility makes her a critical piece in both defense and offense. Losing the queen can be a severe blow to a player’s position, as it can limit their attacking potential and leave their king exposed to potential threats.

However, that is not to say that she is absolutely powerful in all scenarios and positions. More often than not three minor pieces when combined can better a queen. This is because they support each other. While one piece is on the attack, the other minor pieces can drop back and defend against the queen.

Is the queen stronger than two rooks?

We discussed above how minor pieces can overpower the queen.

Now the question arises: Can the rooks also do the same? The answer to this is that experts generally consider the queen stronger than two rooks because of her versatility. Two rooks, on the other hand, have a limited range of movement, and it can be challenging to coordinate them effectively. However, two rooks can be just as powerful as a queen when placed on open files or attacking weak pawns.

A good rule of thumb is that if you have two rooks and a weak king, the queen often comes out on the top. In other cases, if you have the two rooks and the opponent has weak pawns and compromised king safety then the two rooks will have an advantage due to their attacking potential.

What is the queen’s weakness?

Despite her immense power, the queen is not invincible. One of her weaknesses is her vulnerability to attacks from minor pieces, such as knights, bishops, and pawns. These pieces can target the squares around the queen and force her to move, limiting her movement and potentially creating weaknesses in her position.

Additionally, the queen is also prone to get trapped or pinned. Therefore, you should be very careful while using the queen to conduct a lone operation in the enemy camp, as it can get easily trapped.

We recommend reviewing the 10 Most Deadly Chess Opening Traps You Must Know.

How does promotion works?

Because of its limited mobility, a pawn is much weaker than any of the other pieces during the majority of the game. However, it has a compensating quality: when it reaches the other end of the board, you can transform it into any piece of its own color, except the King. You cannot change any other piece into anything else, no matter what square it reaches.

A pawn moves very slowly. But, if it gets to the opposite end of the board it can change into a powerful Queen!

Therefore, theoretically, a player can have 8 queens on the board!

How to checkmate with the queen?

We will use the same approach that we use for other pieces as well. There are two stages in the mating process:

  1. Pushing the opponent’s king to the corner of the board
  2. Executing the mate.

A useful guide to use is the following mating scenarios of the queen.  The goal is to work towards these mating scenarios. All the possible final mating scenarios are below:

The first two positions are mates given with the support of the king (i.e the queen is defended by the king)

with the support of the king

Chess Queen: How it Moves, Captures, Checkmates

In the other two positions are mates given without the support of the king (i.e the queen is not defended by the king)

without the support of the king

Chess Queen: How it Moves, Captures, Checkmates

Now let’s take a look at an example.

The white queen can give a checkmate if it reaches any of the squares marked in the diagram.

any of the squares

Our objective, starting from this position, is to force checkmate in two moves. If the queen goes to b1, the mate on the following move is unstoppable (1…Ka5 2 Qb5#; 1…Ka3 2 Qa3#).

We can also proceed with move 1 Qd4. In this case, if black plays 1…Ka5 2 Qa7# and 1…Ka3 2 Qa1# are two symmetrical mates.

In most cases, the entrance of the queen on the seventh rank ensures instant mate when the defender places its king on the board’s edge and the attacker’s king is directly in opposition to it.

We also recommend reading 7 Greatest Queen Sacrifices Ever.


The queen is a very powerful piece and has the capacity to destroy the opponent’s camp. At the same time, it is important to know the limitations as well. Most players realize that the queen is worth nine pawns and get materialistically attached to it.

However, one has to realize that the queen is not invincible and that other pieces by working together can overpower a lone queen.

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Updated 12.15.2023