Understanding the movement of the chess pieces is critical if you want to get good at chess. When starting out, it can be challenging learning how each chess piece move over the board, especially the queen as it is known to be the most powerful piece on the board.
One question that is asked a lot is, “Can the queen move backwards?”
In this article, I will explain whether or not the queen can move backwards and give you some tips on how to use your queen effectively in the game.
Can The Queen Move Backwards In Chess?
The queen can move backwards any number of squares in a straight line. It has the ability to move up, down and sideways like a rook, and diagonally like a bishop. This makes the queen the most powerful piece on the chess board.
The only time you can’t move your queen backwards is if you’re making an illegal move that puts your king in danger.
In the following position, the white queen cannot move backwards because it will leave the king open to the black rook.
Which Other Pieces Can Move Backwards?
Pretty much every piece on the chess board has the ability to move backwards except the pawns. The pawns can only move one square forward or 2 squares on their first move.
The bishop moves diagonally backwards any number of sqaures, the king move one square backwards, the rook moves any square backwards, and the knight move 2 squares backwards like a rook and then one square at a right angle.
The following diagram shows how all the chess pieces move backwards except the pawn.
Should I Move The Queen Backwards?
It is not recommended to move your chess pieces backwards, including the queen. This decreases the activity of your pieces and you lose valuable tempo moving them backwards.
Your forces need to advance forward up the board if you want to stand a chance of attacking your opponent. However, there are some scenarios where it makes sense to move your queen backwards.
You can move the queen backwards when you are retreating from a threat or when you are trying to regroup your pieces. For example, in the well known Scandinavian Defense, black usually moves the queen from d5 back to d8 as it gets attacked by the knight on c3. This is a perfectly fine retreating move, although black lost a tempo in the opening.
When To Move Your Queen?
The queen is not a piece that should be developed early like your minor pieces (knight and bishop). If you move your queen out too early in the opening, it will get chased around and that means your opponent will get a lead in development.
Just like in our previous example, the black queen on d5 got chased away by the white knight on c3. Another viable option for black was to play knight to f6 instead of bringing out the queen so early.
So when should you move your queen?
You move your queen to:
- Connect the rooks and complete development
- Attack weak squares or undefended pieces
- Attack the opposing king
All these three moves take place in the middlegame. Therefore, you want to move your queen whenever you’ve finished developing your pieces. In other words, transitioning from opening to middlegame.
Note: This rule is not absolute as you can actually bring your queen out early in some openings like the Qc2 line of the Nimzo Indian Defense.
White develops his queen early to prevent black from doubling white’s pawns in the event of Bxc3, white will recapture with the queen
Note that the queen cannot be harassed easily on c2.
How To Use Your Queen Effectively?
Because the queen can move any number of squares in any direction, it has the ability to attack up to 8 pieces at once from the center of the board. As a guideline, it is recommended that you centralize your queen in the middle of the board. From there, it can attack several pieces and weak squares all at once.
Centralize your queen
The best time to centralize your queen is in the endgame. From the center, the queen can attack pawns and prevent passed pawns from promoting which is critical in the endgame.
It can swiftly move from one end of the board to the other, and can give checks to the opposing king. The queen is at its most powerful in the endgame. Therefore, the player with the extra queen will usually go on to win the game.
Promoting Your Pawn Into A Queen
Promotion in chess is a special pawn move where the pawn has the ability to turn into a piece of higher value if it journeys to the other side of the board. In other words, if the pawn arrives at the 8th rank, it can promote into a queen, rook, bishop or knight. (For black it is the 1st rank)
Because the queen is the most powerful piece on the board, the pawn is usually promoted into the queen instead. Promoting a pawn into a queen will drastically increase the force of your army which often leads to winning chances.
Therefore, if you are the side on the defensive end, you should do whatever it takes to prevent your opponent from promoting his pawn into a queen. This can be done by blockading the passed pawn with your major or minor pieces.
Note: The knight and queen are the best blockaders of passed pawns.
Related Post: Can you promote a pawn to a second queen?
The queen can move backwards as well as forwards, sideways and diagonally. It’s not the ideal approach to move your queen backwards unless it is being attacked by an enemy piece.
To prevent your queen from being attacked, you should not develop it too early in the game. The best times to move your queen off the back rank is to connect the rooks, attack an undefened pieces, or to use it to carry out a clear strategic idea. Hope you learned a thing or two from this article. Thanks for reading!