Queen in the standard Staunton pattern

The queen (,) is the most powerful piece in the game of chess, able to move any number of squares vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. Each player starts the game with one queen, placed in the middle of the first rank next to the king. With the chessboard oriented correctly, the white queen starts on a white square and the black queen on a black square. (Thus the mnemonics “queen gets her color”, or “queen on color”, or “queen on her own color”.) In algebraic notation, the white queen starts on d1 and the black queen starts on d8. Because the queen is the most powerful piece, when a pawn is promoted it is almost always promoted to a queen.

In the game shatranj, an ancestor of chess, the queen was a fairly weak piece called a fers or vizier, only able to move or capture one step diagonally. The modern queen’s move arose in 15th-century Europe.

The piece is archaically known as the minister. In Polish it is known as the Hetman – the name of a major historical military-political office. In Russian it is known as “ferz'” (ферзь).

## Movement

 a b c d e f g h 8 8 7 7 6 6 5 5 4 4 3 3 2 2 1 1 a b c d e f g h
Initial placement of the queens – d1 and d8
 a b c d e f g h 8 8 7 7 6 6 5 5 4 4 3 3 2 2 1 1 a b c d e f g h
Possible moves of the queen
 King Queen Rook Bishop Knight Pawn

The queen can be moved any number of unoccupied squares in a straight line vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, thus combining the moves of the rook and bishop. The queen captures by occupying the square on which an enemy piece sits.

Although both players start with one queen each, a player can promote a pawn to any of several types of pieces, including a queen, when the pawn is moved to the player’s furthest rank (the opponents first rank). Such a queen created by promotion can be an additional queen, or if the player’s queen has been captured, a replacement queen. Pawn promotion to a queen is colloquially called queening, which is by far the most common type of piece a pawn is promoted to because of the relative power of a queen.

## General remarks

### Piece value

Ordinarily the queen is slightly more powerful than a rook and a bishop together, while slightly less powerful than two rooks. It is almost always disadvantageous to exchange the queen for a single piece other than the enemy’s queen.

The reason the queen is more powerful than a combination of a rook and bishop, even though they control the same number of squares, is twofold. First, the queen is a more mobile unit than the rook and bishop, as the entire power of the queen can be transferred to another location in one move, while transferring the entire firepower of a rook and bishop requires two moves. Second, the queen is not hampered by the bishop’s inability to control squares of the opposite color to the square on which it stands. A factor in favor of the rook and bishop is that they can attack (or defend) a square twice, while a queen can only do so only once, but experience has shown that this factor is usually less significant than the points favoring the queen.[1]

The queen is at her most powerful when the board is open, when the enemy king is not well-defended, or when there are loose (i.e. undefended) pieces in the enemy camp. Because of her long range and ability to move in multiple directions, the queen is well-equipped to execute forks. Compared to other long range pieces (i.e. rooks and bishops) the queen is less restricted and more powerful also in closed positions.

### Strategy

Beginners often develop the queen early in the game, hoping to plunder the enemy position and deliver an early checkmate such as Scholar’s Mate. This can expose the easily harassed queen to attacks by weaker pieces causing the player to lose time. Experienced players generally prefer to delay developing the queen, and instead develop minor pieces in the opening.

Early queen attacks are rare in high level chess, but there are some openings with early queen development that are used by high level players. For example, the Scandinavian Defense, which features queen moves by Black on the second and third moves is considered sound, and has been played at the world championship level. Some less common examples have also been observed in high level games. The Parham Attack, which is widely considered a opening suitable only for beginners, has occasionally been played by the strong American Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura.[2]

A queen exchange often marks the beginning of the endgame, but there are queen endgames, and sometimes queens are exchanged in the opening, long before the endgame. A common goal in the endgame is to promote a pawn to a queen. As the queen has the largest range and mobility, queen and king vs. lone king is an easy win when compared to some other basic mates.

## Queen sacrifice

A queen sacrifice is the deliberate sacrifice of a queen in order to gain a more favorable tactical position.

## History

The queen was originally the fers (counsellor or prime minister) and had a quite different movement. In Persia it was called the farzin and later the firz. Initially it could move only one square diagonally. About 1300 its move was enhanced to allow it to jump two squares diagonally, which was the same move as the bishop at the time. For a while it was also allowed to jump like a knight once in the game, somewhat analogous to castling for the king. This rule was used in Turkey and Russia until the 18th Century.

The feminization of the fers into the queen arose over time. Some surviving early medieval pieces depict the piece as a queen, and the word fers became grammatically feminized in several languages, for example alferza in Spanish and fierce or fierge in French,[3] prior to its replacement with names such as reine or dame (lady). The Carmina Burana also refer to the queen as femina (woman) and coniunx (spouse),[4] and the name Amazon has sometimes been seen.[5] (The amazon is sometimes used as a fairy chess piece that can move as a queen or a knight.[6])

In Russian it keeps its Persian name of ferz to this day; koroleva or queen is colloquial and is never used by professional chess players. However the names koroleva, tsaritsa (empress), and baba (old woman) are attested as early as 1694.[7] In Arabic countries the queen remains termed, and in some cases depicted as, a vizier.[8]

Historian Marilyn Yalom proposes that the prominence of medieval queens such as Eleanor of Aquitaine and Blanche of Castile, the cult of the Virgin Mary,[4] and the power ascribed to women in the troubadour tradition of courtly love, might have been partly responsible for influencing the piece towards its identity as a queen and its extraordinary power on the board, as might the medieval popularity of chess as a game particularly suitable for women to play on equal terms with men.[9] She points to a surviving chess queen representing the Virgin, as well as medieval poetry depicting the Virgin as the chess-queen of God or Fierce Dieu,.[10] Significantly, the earliest surviving treatise to describe the modern movement of the queen (as well as the bishop and pawn), Repetición de amores e arte de axedres con CL iuegos de partido (Discourses on Love and the Art of Chess with 150 Problems) by Luis Ramírez de Lucena, was published during the reign of Isabella I of Castile.[11] Well before the queen’s powers expanded, it was already being romantically described as essential to the king’s survival, so that when the queen was lost, there was nothing more of value on the board.[12]

During the 16th century the queen’s move took its modern form as a combination of the move of the rook and the current move of the bishop.[13] Starting from Spain, this new version – called “queen’s chess” (scacchi de la donna), or pejoratively “madwoman’s chess” (schacchi alla rabiosa) – spread throughout Europe rapidly, partly due to the advent of the printing press and the popularity of new books on chess.[14] The new rules faced a misogynistic backlash in some quarters, ranging from anxiety over a powerful female warrior figure to frank abuse against women in general.[15]

At various times, the ability of pawns to be queened was restricted while the original queen was still on the board, so as not to cause scandal by providing the king with more than one queen. An early twelfth-century Latin poem refers to a queened pawn as a ferzia, as opposed to the original queen or regina, to account for this.[16]

## Unicode

Unicode defines two codepoints for queen:

U+2655 White Chess Queen (HTML &#9813;)

U+265B Black Chess Queen (HTML &#9819;)

## Notes

1. ^ Larsen, Bent (1975), Lærebok i sjakk
2. ^ “Nakamura’s 2.Qh5”. ChessNinja.com. 2005-04-22. Retrieved 12 April 2011.
3. ^ (Yalom 2004:95)
4. ^ a b (Yalom 2004:77)
5. ^ (Yalom 2004:218)
6. ^ (Dickins 1971:13)
7. ^ (Yalom 2004:175)
8. ^ (Yalom 2004:238)
9. ^ (Yalom 2004:passim)
10. ^ (Yalom 2004:112–114)
11. ^ (Yalom 2004:195)
12. ^ (Yalom 2004:192)
13. ^ (Davidson 1981:13–14,28–30)
14. ^ (Yalom 2004:214–216)
15. ^ (Yalom 2004:214–219)
16. ^ (Yalom 2004:91)