Bishop Basics

The bishop piece may be the most challenging one on the board to truly master, and also one of the most important.  


  • The bishop is known for its rounded top with a slit in the middle. The piece originally represented the tusk of an elephant. As the game of chess spread further around the world it came to countries where no one had seen an elephant, which made it look odd to the people there. These people didn’t associate the shape with a tusk, but did think it looked similar to a Catholic bishop’s hat called a mitre, which is how the bishop got its name.


  • Each player begins the game with two bishops. One starts between the king’s knight and the king, and the other is between the queen’s knight and the queen. The starting squares are c1 and f1 for white's bishops, and c8 and f8 for black's bishops.


  • Bishops that begin on the light squares may only move on the light squares, and bishops that begin on the dark squares can only travel on the dark colored squares.


  • The bishop can move diagonally, and has no limits to the number of squares it can travel on the chessboard, as long as there is not another piece in its path. Bishops cannot jump over other pieces.


  • Bishops can be surprisingly powerful when used properly, and can be a hero in the middle to endgames. Their power increases as positions open up, and many top players will say that the bishop is slightly more valuable than a knight, despite them both having the same value (3 points). 


  • A bishop captures by occupying the square on which an enemy piece sits.


Although this piece starts out relatively weak, the bishop can become one of the strongest pieces on the board. Keeping strong bishops on the board as it clears can put you in an enviable position during your next chess match!


                                (Starting positions of the bishops)