Can Chess Pieces Move Backward?

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An interesting question about whether chess pieces can move backward that gets asked more often than it would seem possible than it should. If you do not know how every chess piece can move, this is a fundamental aspect of learning chess as a beginner. I recommend taking a look at my page on how every chess piece can move as a starting point but in answer to the question…..

Every chess piece can move backward with the exception of the Pawn. Each piece of material in chess that can move backward remains limited to the individual rules of movement. A pawn can only move backward once being promoted at the other side of the board and promoted to another piece.

…….but then it is not a pawn anymore, so it doesn’t count

There is little to expand upon in terms of the answer for this post, so now you know the answer I would suggest taking a little time to look at these two articles, on Chess pieces, and Pawn promotion to understand everything that has been said already.

Every chess player should know the fundamental rules of forward and backward move abilities.

Which Pieces Can Move backward in Chess

  1. King
  2. Queen
  3. Rook
  4. Knight
  5. Bishop

Which Piece in chess can not move backward?

  1. Pawn

##How Do Bishops move Backward?

The bishop is able to move backward along the same diagonal lines they move forward as long as the route is no obstructed by the same players pieces. If an enemy piece is available for capture that remains a possibility also but ensure that you do not move the bishop backward into en prise for the danger of losing it.

How to Move a Knight Backward

The Knight as we know has a very unique range of motion by moving in an L-shape in any direction both forward or backward.

It has the full range of motion and can dart around the board in a fantastic pattern wreaking havoc on your opponent’s tactics.

Just as you might want to advance your knight forward you can pull them back to the middle to help control the center of the chessboard or backline by using exactly the same move structure as determined by the movement rules for the piece.

How do Rooks Move Backward?

A valuable piece, Rooks don’t do a great deal of backward movement, often being the last of the powerful attacking pieces to move off the 1st rank and join in the attack. Rooks are able to move back down files for defensive purposes or as part of your tactical strategy in the attack.

As with the bishops, the rook pieces can move backward as far as you want on the chessboard on a clear file and can capture by moving backward also.

Can a Queen move Backward?

The queen is the most powerful chess piece on the board being able to move in any direction, vertically, horizontally and diagonally either backward or forward. There are no restrictions to the range of movement the Queen has in a backward direction and she is often employed in sharp defensive moves that require retreating backward from an attacking position to save the day.

Will the King Move Backward?

The King piece is able, like the Queen, to move in any direction on the chess board but is limited to single squares. This does of course include being able to move backward if you have taken a position by advancing ranks. once the king has moved forward on ranks, there is no rule preventing you from coming back again

When Can a Pawn Move Backward?

Whilst you can eventually move a pawn backward in chess if getting to the other side of the board and being promoted on the 8th rank, it is not a Pawn anymore so the rule remains. A pawn can not move backward and this adds the reason why it is considered the weakest piece in the game of chess.

There is never a point in the game of chess when a Pawn chess piece is able to make a backward move on the board.

What is a backward pawn then?

You may have heard the term ‘Backward pawn’ used.

A backward pawn is a pawn that is positioned on a square behind all other pawns of the same color on the board and can not be advanced safely in the game. Any advance would leave a backward pawn in a position to be captured without defense. Backward pawns are a weak spot in your defense.

A backward pawn may at first thought not seem very important, but in fact, are a huge weakness in your defense. Backward pawns are minor pieces and can be attacked easily with no other pawns behind adjacently to defend them. Backward pawns are easy to capture and can provide a route into your backline.


Once you have learned the piece movements of every piece on the board you are ready to play a proper chess game. Start looking at Chess tactics and chess strategy to further your knowledge and ability. There are some special moves that pieces can perform in certain circumstances too, Like En Passant and castling. these are good to learn.

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