How Does the Bishop Move? (Explained)

One of the most powerful and versatile pieces in chess is the bishop.

How Does the Bishop Move?

  • Moves diagonally.
  • Unlimited squares.
  • Stays on the same color square.
  • Doesn’t jump over pieces.

Below we look deeper at the nuances of how the bishop moves, its strategic value, and some tips on how to effectively utilize this piece to gain an advantage over your opponent.

Understanding the Bishop’s Movement

The bishop is a long-range piece that moves diagonally across the chessboard.

It can move any number of squares in a diagonal direction, as long as there are no other pieces obstructing its path.

The bishop can move both forward and backward along the diagonals, making it a formidable force on the board.

Each player starts the game with two bishops, one on a light-colored square and the other on a dark-colored square.

This positioning ensures that each player has a bishop that can move on both light and dark squares, allowing for greater flexibility in their strategies.


The bishop can move one square, like the following examples.

This demonstrates a bishop fork on the rook and the queen.

Bishop Fork
Bishop Fork

And examples of where the bishop can move multiple squares at once:

A bishop sacrifice:

Bishop Sacrifice
Bishop Sacrifice

A bishop executing a check:

Another example of a bishop sacrifice to achieve a particular strategic goal:

The Strategic Value of the Bishop

The bishop’s unique movement pattern gives it significant strategic value in the game of chess.

Here are some key reasons why the bishop is considered a powerful piece:

1. Long-range capabilities

The bishop’s ability to move any number of squares along a diagonal allows it to cover a large portion of the board.

This long-range capability makes the bishop an excellent piece for controlling key squares and exerting pressure on the opponent’s position.

2. Potential for pinning and skewering

The bishop’s diagonal movement can be leveraged to create powerful tactics such as pinning and skewering.

Pinning occurs when a piece is unable to move without exposing a more valuable piece behind it.

Skewering, on the other hand, involves attacking a valuable piece while simultaneously threatening a less valuable piece positioned behind it.

The bishop’s diagonal attacks make it a potent tool for executing these tactics.

3. Coordination with other pieces

The bishop can work in tandem with other pieces, such as the queen or other bishops, to create powerful attacks.

By coordinating their movements, these pieces can create threats that are difficult for the opponent to defend against effectively.

Tips for Effective Use of the Bishop

Now that we understand the movement and strategic value of the bishop, let’s explore some tips on how to make the most of this powerful chess piece:

1. Develop your bishops early

At the beginning of the game, it is crucial to develop your bishops to active squares.

Placing them on squares that control the center of the board can give you an early advantage and provide greater flexibility in your future moves.

2. Avoid blocking your own bishops

Since the bishop moves diagonally, it is essential to avoid placing your own pawns or other pieces on squares that obstruct your bishop’s movement.

Blocking your own bishop can limit its effectiveness and restrict your options on the board.

3. Exchange opponent’s bishops

If your opponent has a strong bishop, it can be advantageous to exchange it with one of your own bishops.

By eliminating their powerful piece, you reduce their attacking potential and gain an advantage in the game.

4. Utilize open diagonals

Look for opportunities to open up diagonals for your bishops.

By removing obstructions and creating open lines, you increase the bishop’s range and potential for powerful attacks.

5. Bishop pair advantage

If you manage to retain both of your bishops while your opponent loses one or both of theirs, you gain a significant advantage known as the “bishop pair advantage.”

This advantage arises from the increased flexibility and coordination possibilities offered by having two bishops on the board.

Is the Bishop Worth More than a Knight?

Basic Value

Traditionally, both the bishop and knight are valued at 3 points each.

However, their effectiveness can vary based on the position.

Open Positions

In open positions, where pawns don’t block major lines, bishops tend to be more powerful.

They can control long diagonals and influence both sides of the board from a distance.

Closed Positions

In closed positions, where pawns obstruct the board, knights often have an advantage.

Their ability to jump over pieces allows them to navigate blockades that bishops can’t penetrate.

Bishop Pair

Having both bishops (one for each color square) is considered an asset, known as the “bishop pair.”

This duo can control both light and dark squares, offering a strategic advantage.

The bishop pair often increases the combined value of the bishops, making them more valuable than two knights or a knight and a single bishop.


While bishops and knights have similar basic values, the nature of the position can elevate the worth of one over the other.

The bishop pair, in particular, is a notable advantage in many positions.

This was made famous by AlphaZero in the late-2010s when it would famously sacrifice material to obtain the bishop pair to have an endgame advantage.

Bishop Pair

Complementary Movement

Each bishop operates on squares of a single color, either light or dark.

Together, they control both color complexes, ensuring no square remains out of their reach.

Dual Threat

While one bishop can exert pressure or pin a piece, the other can target a different area of the board simultaneously, creating multiple threats that can overwhelm an opponent.

Strategic Reinforcement

The bishops can support each other by controlling intersecting diagonals.

This mutual reinforcement can be especially potent in controlling key squares or defending critical positions.

Open Game Dominance

In open positions, the bishop pair can work harmoniously to slice through the board, making it challenging for the opponent to find safe squares.

Below is an example of a bishop pair against a knight and pawns, and how they can be used to synergistically to control many squares in open positions.

Endgame Advantage

In endgames, the bishop pair’s ability to swiftly transition between flanks can prove decisive, especially when both sides have pawns on multiple parts of the board.


In essence, the bishop pair’s combined movement offers a strategic depth that can be leveraged to control, threaten, and dominate various phases of the game.

Their harmonious interaction amplifies their individual strengths, making them a formidable duo on the chessboard.

FAQs – How Does the Bishop Move?

Can the bishop move through other pieces?

No, the bishop cannot move through other pieces. It can only move along unobstructed diagonals.

Can the bishop capture pieces of the same color?

No, the bishop can only capture pieces of the opposite color. It cannot capture pieces of the same color.

Can the bishop move in a straight line?

No, the bishop can only move diagonally. It cannot move in a straight line.

Can the bishop move backward?

Yes, the bishop can move both forward and backward along the diagonals.

How far can the bishop move in one turn?

The bishop can move any number of squares along a diagonal, as long as there are no obstructions in its path.

Can the bishop jump over other pieces?

No, the bishop cannot jump over other pieces. It must have a clear diagonal path to move.

Can the bishop move onto a square of the opposite color?

Yes, the bishop can move onto squares of the opposite color. Each player starts with a bishop on a light-colored square and the other on a dark-colored square.

Can the bishop move in any direction along a diagonal?

Yes, the bishop can move in any direction along a diagonal, as long as there are no obstructions in its path.

Can the bishop capture the king?

Yes, the bishop can capture the king if it moves to a square occupied by the opponent’s king. However, capturing the king is not the primary objective of the game.

Can the bishop promote to another piece?

No, the bishop cannot promote to another piece. It retains its bishop status throughout the game.

Can the bishop castle?

No, the bishop cannot castle. Only the king and rooks are involved in the castling move.

Can the bishop move if it puts the king in check?

Yes, the bishop can move even if it puts the opponent’s king in check. However, it is generally advisable to prioritize protecting your own king.

Can the bishop move if it is pinned?

No, if the bishop is pinned to the king by an opponent’s piece, it cannot move. Moving the bishop would expose the king to a direct attack.

Can the bishop capture a piece that is protected by another piece?

Yes, the bishop can capture a piece that is protected by another piece. However, capturing a protected piece may not always be strategically advantageous.

Can the bishop move if it is the only piece left on the board?

Yes, the bishop can continue to move and participate in the game even if it is the only piece left on the board. However, its effectiveness may be limited without the support of other pieces.

Summary – How Does the Bishop Move?

The bishop is a formidable piece in the game of chess, capable of long-range diagonal movements.

Its strategic value lies in its ability to control key squares, execute tactics like pinning and skewering, and coordinate with other pieces for powerful attacks.

By developing your bishops early, avoiding obstructions, and utilizing open diagonals, you can effectively leverage the power of the bishop to gain an advantage over your opponent.

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