Which Chess Pieces Move Diagonally?

Every chess piece moves and captures differently.

But the bishop, queen, king, and pawn can all move or capture diagonally in one way or another.

Let’s see how these pieces move diagonally and which chess pieces can’t move diagonally.

1. Bishop

Among all the pieces that can move diagonally, the bishop comes to mind first. This is because the bishop is only allowed to move diagonally.

Bishops can move as many squares diagonally as they want, as long as all the squares along the way are unoccupied.

Since a bishop can only move diagonally, a bishop can only move to other squares of the same color. For example, a light-squared bishop can only move to other light squares.

That’s why you start each game with one light-squared and one dark-squared bishop. So they can control the entire board together.

If you want to know more about the way bishops move, you can read this article.

2. Queen

The queen is another piece that can move diagonally for any number of unoccupied squares, similar to a bishop.

However, a queen can also move linearly in either horizontal and vertical directions. The queen’s movement is basically that of the bishop and rook combined.

This makes the queen the strongest and most valuable piece on the board. And unlike a bishop, a queen isn’t limited to just the light squares or dark squares.

If you want to know more about how the queen moves, you can read this article.

3. King

Similar to the queen, a king can move diagonally, horizontally, and vertically. However, the king can only move one square at a time.

This makes the king flexible but also extremely slow.

While a bishop can move from a1 to h8 in just one move, a king will need 7 moves to walk across the board.

However, the fact that a king can move both diagonally and linearly often makes the king more valuable than a bishop in the endgame.

If you want to learn more about the king’s movement, you can read this article.

4. Pawn

One of the first things you learn as a beginner is that pawns can only move forwards. However, a pawn can also capture diagonally forward one square.

Meaning that while pawns can’t move diagonally, they can capture diagonally. So I believe pawns belong on this list as well.

Pawns can even capture diagonally on the first move if one of your opponent’s pieces is close enough. But unfortunately, they can never capture (diagonally) backwards.

Also keep in mind that a pawn that reaches the opposite side can promote into a queen or bishop that moves diagonally.

If you want to know more about how a pawn moves and all the unique movement rules, you can read this article.

Can rooks move diagonally?

Rooks can only move linearly and are not allowed to move diagonally. The diagram below shows how a rook can move.

At first glance, you might think this means that rooks and bishops are roughly similar in strength.

One of them moves diagonally, while the other moves linearly. And in the center of the board, they both control roughly the same number of squares.

However, the problem with moving linearly is that you can only move to other squares of the same color.

So while rooks can reach any square on an empty chessboard within two moves, a bishop can only move to half the squares no matter how many moves you make.

Moreover, a rook in the corner or on the edge of the board control a lot more squares than a bishop.

For these two reasons, a rook is normally a lot stronger (5 points) than a bishop (3 points).

You can learn more about rooks in this article.

Can knights move diagonally?

The knight is the strangest piece on the board because they move in a unique L-shaped pattern and can jump over pieces. However, the knight can’t move diagonally.

Although a knight and bishop both move completely differently, they are worth the same amount of points.

However, the relative strength of a knight vs bishop depends on the position on the board.

Which piece can only move diagonally?

The bishop is the only piece that can only move and capture diagonally. While a pawn can only capture diagonally and move linearly forward.

All other pieces are not allowed to move diagonally or can move both diagonally and linearly.

For more information, you can read my article on how all the chess pieces move.

Which pieces can’t move diagonally?

The rook and knight are not allowed to move or capture diagonally. While a pawn can capture diagonally forward, but can only move linearly.

For more information, you can read my article on how all the chess pieces move.

Summary

The bishop, queen and king can all move and capture diagonally. While a pawn can only capture diagonally and move linearly.

This means that rooks and knights are the only pieces that can’t move diagonally at all.

If this article was helpful, you might also be interested in our article on all the chess pieces that can move backwards.