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Does king or queen take color in chess?

Chess is a classic strategy board game that has been enjoyed for centuries. The game is played between two opponents on a checkered board with 16 pieces each that include 8 pawns, 2 rooks, 2 knights, 2 bishops, 1 queen and 1 king. Chess is a game of complex maneuvers and strategies where the goal is to checkmate the opponent’s king.

Rules of Colors in Chess

In standard chess rules, the colors of the pieces hold significance. The chessboard itself consists of 64 squares in an 8×8 grid pattern. The squares are alternately colored in black and white like a checkerboard. This creates visual distinction between the light and dark squares.

The chess pieces are divided into two sets called White and Black. White always moves first in chess by standard rules. The starting position of the pieces is predefined – the white pieces begin on the first and second rows while the black pieces start on the seventh and eighth rows facing each other.

This color distinction helps players quickly identify their own pieces versus their opponent’s. It enables strategic planning based on controlling key light or dark squares on the board. The colors essentially represent the two opposing sides in a battle.

Color Identity of the King

The king is the most important chess piece on the board. Each player has one king at the start – the white king and the black king. The king’s color remains fixed throughout the game and is never changed.

During the chess opening, the kings are placed on the e1 (white king) and e8 (black king) squares. As per standard chess rules, the king retains its original color and starts the game on the square that matches its color. The white king begins on the light e1 square. Similarly, the black king starts on the dark e8 square.

As the game progresses, the kings can move to any adjacent square to avoid capture. However, the king’s color identity remains the same irrespective of the color of the square it is currently on. For instance, if the white king moves to the dark d1 square, it is still the white colored king. Its color does not change to match the new square.

The king’s color is an intrinsic property that remains static throughout the match. It can be used to quickly distinguish between the two kings and prevent confusion. The color also determines which player is in check or checkmate when a king is under attack.

Identity of the Queen Piece

Similar to the king, the queen chess piece also maintains a constant color identity aligned with the player’s set. In the starting position, the white queen goes on the light d1 square and the black queen starts on the dark d8 square.

A key difference compared to the king is that the queen can move to any unoccupied square in a horizontal, vertical or diagonal direction. This gives it access to both the light and dark colored squares.

Yet the queen’s original color is retained irrespective of the color of its new square. If the white queen moves to f5, which is a dark square, it still remains a white colored piece. The queen does not adopt the color of the new square it moves to.

The queen’s capabilities make it a powerful piece to control both light and dark squares. However, its color and allegiance always remain the same. The queen belongs to the color set it started with and cannot change colors when captured. The queen’s color is permanent and helps identify which player it belongs to.

Reasons for Fixed Colors

Assigning the chess pieces fixed colors right from the start serves some important purposes:

  • It allows quick visual recognition of the player’s own pieces versus the opponent’s.
  • The color gives each piece a unique identity that does not change during gameplay.
  • It enables positioning strategies based on controlling key light or dark squares.
  • The king’s color indicates which player is under check or checkmate.
  • It allows capturing of opponent’s pieces and prevents confusion about which pieces can be captured.
  • The colors represent the two rival armies with defined sides fighting the chess battle.

Therefore, the coloring system creates a clear distinction between the two sets of pieces. This facilitates faster perception during complex positional play and tactical sequences. Following chess etiquette, players must not touch or move the opponent’s pieces which also uses color for easy differentiation.

Notable Exceptions

In standard chess, the pieces retain their original colors for the entire game. However, there are some rare exceptions:

  • Chess variants – In chess variants such as Bughouse chess that is played on two boards, captured pieces can change color when passed to the partner board.
  • Defective sets – In case a chess set has missing or defective pieces, a pawn or other piece may be substituted and swapped color.
  • Adjustments – Occasionally pieces may be assigned opposite colors to aid visibility if a player is color blind.

Barring such scenarios, mainstream chess rules enforce strict color assignments to the pieces that do not ever change later during the game.

Color Sets in Major Chess Variants

The fixed color principle also applies to most popular chess variants. The predefined starting position, color groups and identities remain consistent through the gameplay. Some examples:

  • Chess960 – The pieces retain original colors but start in one of 960 possible random configurations.
  • Fischer Random – Same as Chess960 with randomized starting positions while keeping colors intact.
  • Crazyhouse – Captured pieces can be dropped back but they retain original colors.
  • Three Checks – Additional check limits but otherwise standard rules and colors apply.

Therefore, regardless of variant-specific rules, the fundamental coloring system based on two opposed sides remains unaltered in most major chess offshoots.

Color Assignments in Other Games

The idea of color-coded pieces representing two distinct sides is common across many abstract strategy games. Some examples include:

Game Color Assignments
Checkers Black and red colored pieces
Go Black and white stones
Reversi Black and white discs
Shogi Red and black pieces

The fixed colors enable quick recognition of one’s own pieces and planned movement across the board. It is an elegant method to capture the essence of two warring factions engaging in strategic battle.

Psychological Impact of Colors

Research indicates that chess piece colors can have psychological implications as well. For instance, studies show that:

  • Players tend to perceive white pieces as positive and black pieces as negative.
  • White is associated with higher self-esteem and confidence.
  • Players with white pieces are more optimistic about winning.
  • The white color induces a positive bias and sense of initiative.

Therefore, aside from their functional purpose, the colors also create a subconscious psychological effect. However, professional chess players recommend ignoring such biases and focusing objectively on the board position.


In summary, the king and queen pieces in chess are assigned fixed colors that match the player’s starting set. As per standard rules, the colors remain unchanged throughout the game regardless of the squares the pieces occupy. This color system enables quick identification, aids strategy and maintains unique identities of the pieces. While few exceptions exist, the vast majority of chess variants also conform to the same traditional principle of two distinct, opposing color sets.