The Queen

“The most powerful major piece on the chessboard”

  Queen, originally called mantri (counsellor or minister), it was only allowed to move one cell diagonally. When Chess first arrived in Europe the Queen was permitted to leap threeThe Queen cells. By 1475 the Queen obtained her present power of moving along the length of all diagonals, ranks and files. In some countries a Pawn was not permitted to be promoted/enrobed to Queen as this was seen as promoting bigamy. The Italians used to call the Queen rabioso (furious) and the game itself scacchi alla rabioso. The Queen has undergone changes in name, sex and power. In Shanranj this major piece was called (Farz or, Firz), meaning Counsellor or, General. The French may have changed it into Fierce, Fierge, and Vierge (Virgin), which if true, might explain why this piece became female. Another view is that a minor piece on reaching rank-8 was elevated in value and became a Farz and not any other major piece - a promotion that was of the same kind as that in Draughts or Checkers - in French: Dames. Thus the Pawn became a Dame or, Queen as in the latter game, and thence Dama, Donna, etc. The Cinderella - type transformation called promotion (in Chesmayne the sharp symbol [#] is used to indicate this elevation in stature) is also called Queening -and really a coronation, because the usual choice is the Queen, the most powerful major piece available.

  If the elevation is not to a Queen, it is sometimes referred to as an under promotion (Knight, Bishop, Rook, etc). In the center of a clear board the Queen commands 27 cells (D-Array). Be careful of playing your Queen in front of your King as you could find yourself in discovered check.

  Do not move your Queen or do not develop it too early at the beginning of the game as she may be attacked and be compelled to retire with the loss of many moves. Because the Queen is so powerful, she must always avoid capture. The Queen is known by different names in differing countries:

Chess piece names in other languages
 Language  Piece name  Game name
English Queen Chess
French Dame Les echecs
German Dame Schachspiel
Italian Donna Gli scacchi
Spanish Dama Ajedrez
Portuguese Rainha Xadrez
Russian Ferz Shahmati
Arabic Firz Ash-shatranj
Latin Regina  Scaci

  The Queen was not a powerful major piece until the last part of the 15th century. In Indian and Arabic Chess, Queen predecessor was a minister or Vizer. The Queen is the most powerful piece because she can move any number of cells and in eight different directions (forwards, backwards, to either side, and along all diagonals). The Queen combines the moves of the Rook and Bishop.

  The Queen cannot jump over occupied cells, only Knights can do this. Because she is so powerful, the Queen is the piece most often chosen for promotion when a minor piece reaches the top rank. A minor piece so promoted is indicated by QU2, QU3 in the Chesmayne notation. The Queen is the most important attacking piece and is really a Rook + Bishop combined.

Mayan piece names:

 Chess pieces Mayan names  Meaning
King Ahau Yellow Sun
Queen Lamat Yellow Star
Warrior Cib Yellow Warrior
Counselor Ix White Wizard
Pawn Eb Yellow Human
Rook Ben Red Skywalker
Knight Akbal Blue Night
Bishop Kan Yellow Seed

Eight Queens problem

  This problem is probably as old as the Chess game itself, and thus its origin is not known. The problem was originally proposed in 1848 by the Chess player Max Bazzel, and over the years, many mathematicians, including Gauss have worked and studied on this puzzle. In 1874, S. Gunther proposed a method of finding solutions by using determinants, and J.W.L. Glaisher refined this approach. This problem requires to place 8 Queens on the Chess board so that they do not check each other. A Queen can attack all cells on its vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines of sight. There are 92 valid solutions to this problem. This puzzle appeared in the popular early 1990s computer game, "The 7th Guest". You can try this problem at:

To Queen

  To Queen a piece means to promote a minor piece and exchange the minor piece for a Queen, Rook, or Bishop. Cho-Yo (Japanese Shogi player) has said “Queening a Pawn would be a ridiculous performance if we do not understand it Chessonymously by esoteric connotation of the meaning of transmodifications of force of vitality.” There is an esotery literally no Queening a Pawn in the science and art of war - nay - all kinds of struggles.

Queen cells

  The ranks of cells comprising this area. The cell on which a minor piece is promoted to any other major piece of the same colour, apart from a King. The top rank of cells on a Chess board on which a Pawn is promoted to Queen or other minor piece.

Queen side

  The side of the board containing files -A, B, C and D. The side of the Chess board on which the Queen is positioned at the start of the game. The left-hand flank, the 32 cells to the left of the Chessboard. Pieces positioned on this side of the board are known as the Queen's Rook, Queen's Knight, and Queen's Bishop.

Queen’s Gambit

  The Queen's gambit is not a real sacrifice of material. The gambit declined leads to difficult positional play while accepting it leads to more open positions. In the hands of a mature player it is one of the strongest openings that can be played. In the 1927 World Championship the Queen's gambit was played in 32 of the 34 games.

Queen’s gambit
Queen’s Gambit (1.d4 d5  2.c4)

  At the end of the middle ages, the slow ferz was replaced in the game of Chess by the Queen. This was part of an overall reform of the rules of Chess (c. 1475), making the game much faster. It has been conjectured that the Queen is called after an influential Spanish Queen that lived at the time of the invention of this piece. In Chaturanga and Shatranj the Queen was called counselor or General and moved one square diagonally.

“The influence of the Spanish Queen Isabel la Católica on the new
powerful Dama in the origin of the draughts and modern Chess game”

  Until now the different scholars practically limited themselves to indicating France as the country of origin of the draughts game, among them the famous Chess scholar Harold James Rutven Murray is emphasized. With respect to the new powerful Dama in the modern Chess game that was developed around the end of the XV century, the situation is not much better, since the scholars of this game believe that France, as well as Italy, could be the native countries of this modality of the game, in spite of the fact that the first Chess book, Luis Ramirez of Lucena, with such new modality dates from 1497 and is of Spanish origin.

  In draughts we see a similar situation, since the first Spanish books about the game of draughts have a very high level and date from the XVI century, while the first French book comes from the XVII century and the game described is a very elemental one. Contrary to this evidence, the scholars did not consider it necessary to grant Spain the honour of being the creative country of the game of draughts and of the new modality in the Chess game with the new Dama.

  How is it possible that the different scholars never took into account the rich Spanish bibliography on both games? Was it a linguistic problem or were there other existing circumstances that forbade this reasoning? In the case of draughts, this could be a reasonable cause for the Dutch scholars that did not master the Spanish language, but not for the English scholar Murray who knew several languages, among them Arabic.

  On the other hand, regarding the Chess game it is difficult to accept that none of them knew the Spanish language. Therefore there had to be other motives for them to deny that Spain could be the country of origin of the new powerful Dama in Chess. Whatever it may be, there can be several motives, but happily in the last years we have observed a trend of two outstanding scholars that began to modify this point of view.

  In the case of the new powerful Dama in the Chess game in Spain we rely on an outstanding Chess investigator, Dr. Ricarde Calvo, who, since the eighties defends Spain as being the country of origin of the new powerful Dama in the game of Chess. His investigations and discoveries of ancient written Chess manuscripts from the XV century make it possible to assert that this new property is of Spanish origin.

  With respect to the draughts game we must not forget to mention Ir. Gerard Bakker of Utrecht (Holland), who with an initial work in 1983 and another advanced one in 1987 praises the Spanish origin of draughts from the alquerque and Chess game. Those were good starting points, but still there were remaining dark points in the solidity of this hypothesis.

  This is, humbly speaking, the purpose of this book, to seek evidence and to situate Spain in an outstanding place that it naturally deserves. For such effect we chronologically treat the texts studied between 1283 and 1700, gathering more than 950 bibliographical references that can be more easily consulted by future scholars.

  From 1986 we maintain the hypothesis that the origin of the game of draughts is a Spanish one and to such effect we have sought answers and evidence for some 10 years. We started on the basis of the fact that the Chess game reflects the royal situation of a time. So we can ask ourselves why the Queen in the modern Chess game has more power than the King. If we study the life of Spanish royalty in the XV century we see that this question is not so difficult to answer.

  There was, in 1469 a Dama in Castille that was married to a future King of Aragon, Fernando. Some years later, in 1475, this Dama, Isabel la Católica, was crowned Queen with greater effective power than her husband, Fernando. So much, so that when Spain in 1492 was released from the last Moorish outpost in Granada, discovering America and enforcing one sole religion in its territory, it was suddenly justified to use in Chess a new Queen with more power than her King.

  But, concerning the name Dama, what is its origin? We know that the word domina was already translated in the XIV century by the French word dame in Chess manuscripts and it is supposed that in the XV century, due to the influence of the printed books of Jacobus of Cessolis, one began to use frequently in Spain the Dama term for the Queen in Chess. But was it not also due to the idealization of the woman to Dama in court poetry, where the supremacy of the Dama is one of the characteristics of the frustrated love?

  The new modality of the game in Chess was given several names abroad. Thus, we see contemptuous terms as: alla rabiosa in the Italian translation and of dame enrage in the French translation. In Spain we see a neutral term: Axedrez de la Dama. Motive by which we also believe that France as well as Italy cannot be the country of origin of this new type of Chess. Other historians asked themselves how it was possible that this peculiarity of the game could be introduced and maintained in all the European countries.

  This is not so difficult to explain if we take into account the fact that in 1492 Spain banished some 250,000 Jews from its land, who were distributed all over Europe with all its political and economic influence. Furthermore, the Spanish King Carlos V spent more time away from Spain than within its boundaries in function of the defence of the Spanish hegemony in Europe.

  The new powerful Dama of the Chess game would have much to do with the invention of draughts and with the use of this new piece. To such effect we have chronologically treated in this work the bibliographical texts, whose commentaries are mostly translated into Dutch. The original texts are basically Spanish, though we have not forgotten to mention the most notable foreign books in Latin, German, English, French, Italian and Dutch.

  The first chapter deals with ancient Egyptian games, since they were considered erroneously by some scholars as precursors of the Dama. In the same chapter reference is made to the Ludus Latrunculorum game, that was taken by Thomas Hyde as antecedent of the draughts-game. Below are described similar games to the now disappeared Ludus Latrunculorum, some of those which still exist.

  Chapter two describes a board game with squares (alternatively white and yellow?) the , Jaldeta, that was forbidden in the XIII century and was no longer practiced around the end of the XV century. In chapter three we see ourselves in the Spain of the XV century, being able to observe the general influence of the Queen Isabel la Católica.

  We discuss the expulsion of the Jews and the conversion of the Moors to the catholic religion. It was between 1474 and 1492 when the new powerful Dama was developed and this time it can be considered as a dormant stage. The definitive beginning originated in 1492 when the Queen was at the height of her reign: 

  1. Conquest of the Morish outpost Granada; 

  2. Discovery of America;
  3. Expulsion of the Jews;

  4. Loss of power of the nobility due to the administrative reforms.

  In chapter 4 the Latin terms scruporum and calculorum are examined. In the subsequent chapters (5, 6, 7 and 8) Spanish words, which previously were designated to the draughts-game, such as marro, marro de punta, andarraya and alquerque are studied in detail. We demonstrate with bibliographical proofs that punta does not mean field, as Branch, Murray, Kruijswijk and Van der Stoep claim, rather punta means diagonal.

  Thus the game marro de punta is nothing more than a game with a diagonal direction. The denominations marro and marro de punta belong to the kingdom of Aragon and those of andarraya and alquerque to the kingdom of Castille. The ancient word trecha, that years afterwards was converted into treat, is analyzed in chapter 9. Apparently the word castro (castles game) had a certain link to draughts in Turkey and Palestine.

  In chapter 10 this expression is studied in detail. In chapter 11 we extensively analyze the Latin term domina and the word Dama. In the conclusion of this chapter different modalities of draughts in different countries are described. Also, in the following chapter the lost book of Antonio de Torquemada is examined. In 13 a vast study on the book of Juan de Timoneda, printed in 1635, is discussed. According to our investigations some of those texts could date from 1550.

  It is quite possible that some of the positions of draughts that appear in this book will be similar to those which are described in the book of Torquemada. The Spanish draughts books between 1547 and 1996 and the first European draughts books are discussed in chapter 14, as well as the Spanish game books of the period of 1283-1700. At the beginning of the XIX century, Jose Paluzie y Lucena established the first Spanish bibliographical study of Chess.

  In this modest text we do something similar with draughts. To the existing bibliographical lists in other history books about draughts we can add a draughts book of 1792 found by Prof. Dr. Juan Torres Fontes and a manuscript of the year 1690 we found in an Andalusian library. Until now a complete relationship among all the Spanish books, referred to the games in the period 1283-1700, had not been established. Thus our investigations could fill that vacuum.

  In chapter 15 hypothesis of other draughts scholars are submitted to discussion and furthermore a point of view is offered on the development of the game of alquerque of 12 up to our current draughts, similar to the powerful Dama in the Chess game, according to the opinion of the Chess scholar Dr. Ricardo Calvo. Finally, the Spanish bibliophile of Spanish draughts books, Victor Cantalapiedra Martin, expounds in Spanish language, his knowledge of the said book in chapter 16.

  This book owes its existence to the draughts scholar Rob Jansen of Amsterdam and to his efforts over the periods 1991-1994 and 1996-1997 in providing me with abundant bibliographical material. During my years of investigation I have had the fortune of finding scholars of great prestige: my friend Dr. Ricardo Calvo, a great Chess scholar, who provided me with data on his investigations of the origin of modern Chess.

  Without his support and stimulus this book would never have been concluded; Prof. Dr. Juan Torres Fontes (Professor of the University of Murcia in Medieval History) who was so kind as to give me several of his books written on Queen Isabel la Católica and on the XV century, while giving me valuable suggestions on how to continue the investigation; the Dutch draughts scholar, Ir. Gerard Bakker, who kindly made available to me all his publications and photographic material in his draughts magazines.

  Prof. Dr. Gnther G. Bauer of the Institute for the Investigation and the Pedagogy of the Game, created in 1991 by himself, as the fifth scientific institute of the Music and fine arts school, Mozarteum, at Salzburg in Austria, for his support in publishing my previous articles in his books and in encouraging me to continue publishing; the Spanish draughts book bibliophile, Victor Cantalapiedra Martin, who taught me to play the Spanish draughts game and informed me little by little the secrets of his extensive library, and made available to me a great quantity of bibliographical material and photos.

  More people have collaborated in the preparation of this book and it is not possible to mention all of them. Nevertheless, we do not want to forget Prof. Dr. Joachim Petzold (Germany), Mr. Felix Berkovich (U.S.A.), the Dutch draughts scholars Karel Wendel Kruijswijk and Drs. Arie van der Stoep, Dr. Pratesi (Italy), Dr. Adriano Chicco (Italy), the Portugese draughts scholars Dr. Candido Sena Carneiro and Francisco Henriques, and Flory Navarro Belmonte (Licensed in Medieval History by the University of Murcia).

The black Queen goes walkabout

  It was breakfast time at the palace. The black King was reading the papers. “It says here were less popular than ever before.” The Queen looked up from her cornflakes. What should we do about it?” she asked. “I know”, said the King, “why don't you go walkabout and meet the people. That should make us more popular. Pass the marmalade, will you, dear?”. “Good idea. Ill set out at lunch time today”. So off she went....

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  In this game, black made one Pawn move, five Queen moves and five King moves. This is not how you play Chess! White followed all the rules at the start of the game. He developed a Knight, then a Bishop, then he castled. Then, because his e-pawn had disappeared he put his Rook on the e-file. By that time he already had a winning position. 

  Black, on the other hand, broke most of the rules. He didn't develop his Knights and Bishops. He didn't try to castle. He brought his Queen out too soon and moved it too many times. Because White was ahead in development he was able to start attacking first.

Movement and capture

  The Queen moves an arbitrary number of squares in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal direction, but may not jump over occupied squares. Queen takes (captures) in the same way as she moves.

Queen movement


Queen emulates


This diagram shows how the Queen moves. It can move up, down, left, right and diagonally. In the center of the board, it can go up to twenty-seven squares.


The moving proprieties of the Queen can emulate those of the King, Rooks, Bishops and Pawns but not the Knights as shown above with red marks.


Queen blocked


Queen takes Knight


The Queen is blocked by a friendly piece. Here the Queen cannot move to the square occupied by the Rook nor the squares that lie beyond g7 & h8.


The Queen can capture the Knight by removing it from the board and placing itself on the square g4. Queen cannot move beyond the Knight (red mark.)

  Notes: for more information on the usual Chess Queen, see Chesmayne illustrated rules of Chess or the FIDE laws of Chess.

Helpful hints

  1. Develop your Knights and Bishops as quickly as you can. Once a centre Pawn has been taken, CASTLE as quickly as you can.

  2. Don't bring out your Queen in the opening without a very good reason. Don't move pieces more than once in the opening without a very good reason.

  3. If your opponent brings his Queen out too soon use your Knights and Bishops to attack her.

  4. Think CCT every move. Try to look ahead. If I check him he must go there. Then do I have any more checks? Don't be afraid to look at moves which lose pieces. Sometimes - not very often, but sometimes - they turn out to be good.

Queen graphics

Staunton Queen Q

Queen symbol

Queen figurine white

Queen figurine black
Xiangqi white

Xiangqi black
Symbols Queen figurines Xiangqi figurines
Shogi figurine Staunton Queen white                Staunton Queen black
Staunton Queen piece Shogi figurine Staunton Queen graphics

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