What Is the Weakest Chess Piece? (Ranked)

In the game of chess, each piece has its unique abilities and value.

The strength of a piece can be determined by its mobility, the range of squares it can control, and its potential for collaboration with other pieces.

Weakest to Strongest Chess Pieces

  • Pawn: Least powerful, moves one square forward, captures diagonally.
  • Knight: Unique ‘L’ shaped movement, can jump over pieces.
  • Bishop: Moves diagonally, controls squares of a single color.
  • Rook: Moves horizontally and vertically, strong in open files and ranks.
  • Queen: Combines the abilities of a rook and bishop, most powerful in terms of movement.
  • King: Central piece, limited mobility, crucial role in endgame.

Below we look deeper into ranking the chess pieces from the weakest to the strongest, considering their abilities and strategic importance in the game.

The Pawn: The Foot Soldier of the Chessboard

Characteristics and Limitations

The pawn is generally considered the weakest piece on the chessboard.

It moves forward one square at a time but captures diagonally.

Its limited mobility often makes it vulnerable to attacks from more powerful pieces.

Moreover, the pawn can only promote to a stronger piece if it reaches the opponent’s back rank, which is a challenging feat to achieve.

Strategic Importance

Despite its limitations, the pawn plays a crucial role in controlling the center of the board and protecting more valuable pieces.

A well-structured pawn formation can serve as a formidable defense, and advanced pawns can become significant threats in the endgame.

The Knight: The Agile Jumper

Unique Movement

The knight possesses a unique movement ability, moving in an “L” shape – two squares in one direction and then one square perpendicular to the first direction.

This ability allows the knight to jump over other pieces, making it a versatile piece in congested positions.

knight unique movement, jump over pieces

Tactical Opportunities

Knights can create forks, attacking two or more pieces simultaneously, and can be particularly potent in closed positions where other pieces might find their mobility restricted.

Its ability to threaten multiple squares makes it a valuable piece in tactical scenarios and closed positions.

The Bishop: The Diagonal Sniper

Long-Range Attacks

The bishop moves diagonally across the board, controlling squares of a single color.

Its long-range attacking ability makes it a powerful piece in open positions, where it can target pieces and pawns from a distance.

Pairing Advantage

Having a pair of bishops can be a significant advantage, as they can control squares of both colors, creating threats and coordinating attacks effectively.

The bishop pair is often considered a powerful asset in the middle and endgame phases.

Giving up material to get the bishop pair is a common strategy for the chess engine Alphazero.

The Rook: The Horizontal and Vertical Powerhouse

Dominance on Open Files

The rook moves horizontally and vertically across the board, making it a dominant force on open files and ranks.

It can quickly switch between flanks and exert pressure on the opponent’s position.

Rook’s Endgame Strength

In the endgame, the rook’s strength becomes even more apparent, as it can support passed pawns and cut off the opponent’s king.

The rook’s ability to control many squares makes it a vital piece in achieving checkmate.

The Queen: The Supreme Commander

Combining the Powers of Rook and Bishop

The queen combines the powers of the rook and the bishop, moving horizontally, vertically, and diagonally.

Its vast range of movement makes it the most powerful piece on the board, capable of creating threats and launching attacks from various angles.

Centralization and Coordination

Centralizing the queen can control a large number of squares, coordinating well with other pieces to create potent combinations and threats.

Its versatility makes it a critical piece in both offensive and defensive strategies.

The King: The Heart of the Game

The Ultimate Objective

While not the strongest in terms of movement, the king is the most important piece in chess.

The ultimate objective of the game is to checkmate the opponent’s king, making its safety paramount.

Active Role in the Endgame

In the endgame, the king transforms from a piece to be protected to an active participant, helping to promote pawns and participating in checkmating patterns.

Its central role in the game’s objective elevates its importance, despite its limited mobility.

FAQs: What Is the Weakest Chess Piece? (Rank from Weakest to Strongest)

Below, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help you understand which chess pieces are considered the weakest and strongest, and why.

Which is considered the weakest chess piece?

The Pawn

The pawn is generally considered the weakest chess piece.

It can only move forward one square at a time (except for its initial move, where it can move forward two squares) and captures diagonally.

However, a pawn has the potential to promote to any other piece (except a king) if it reaches the opponent’s end rank, potentially becoming the most powerful piece on the board.

What is the relative strength of the pieces in chess?

Ranking from Weakest to Strongest

Here is a general ranking of the chess pieces from weakest to strongest based on their mobility and value:

  1. Pawn
  2. Knight
  3. Bishop
  4. Rook
  5. Queen
  6. King (Note: The king is invaluable as losing the king means losing the game, but in terms of its mobility and capturing abilities, it is not as strong as the queen or rook)

Can the strength of a piece change during the game?


The strength of a piece can change depending on the position on the board and the stage of the game.

For example, in the endgame, a bishop might be stronger than a knight, and a rook can be less valuable than a bishop, depending on position.

For instance, a player might choose to give up a rook for a bishop in the endgame to simplify the board and make mating easier.

How does the bishop’s strength compare to the knight?

It Depends on the Position

Bishops and knights are often considered to be of equal value, with a slight preference sometimes given to bishops because of their long-range abilities.

However, knights have the advantage of being able to jump over other pieces and control squares of both colors, which can make them more versatile in closed positions.

Why is the queen considered the strongest piece?

Versatility and Range

The queen is considered the strongest piece because it combines the abilities of the rook and the bishop, meaning it can move any number of squares along a rank, file, or diagonal.

This gives the queen a great range of mobility and the ability to control a large number of squares on the board.


The ranking of chess pieces from weakest to strongest, based on their abilities and strategic importance, is as follows: Pawn, Knight, Bishop, Rook, Queen, and King.

Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each piece can help players develop effective strategies and tactics to dominate the chessboard.

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