Characters / Chess

Yes, even the gamepieces of Chess get their own character sheet. Don't you know the game is Serious Business?

Interesting note: the Five-Man Band and Five-Bad Band tropes listed here can often be used to tell which characters of a series will take which position in a themed chess set.

Every character on this page possesses the following tropes:
  • Badass Army: Two of them to varying degrees.
  • Chess Motifs: Somehow.
  • Character Death: Once captured, they stay off the board for the rest of the game.
  • Legacy Character: If a Pawn makes it to the far side of the board, the Pawn is instantly promoted to any other piece (except a King), making all the pieces (except for the Pawn and the King).
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: No piece has any resistance to capture. At all. Ever. If it's there, you can take it. Whether or not you should take it is another matter.

The King

The primary goal of the game is to capture this piece, by any means necessary. He can only move one square in any direction (except when he uses his superpower). When he's threatened, it's customary to say "Check", and "Checkmate" in the situation where he cannot escape capture. Typically designed as a tall piece with an elaborate crown.

  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Double subverted; he cowers at the back in the opening and the mid-game, but once the final act rolls in, he's given more freedom to actually live up to his namesake.
  • Big Bad: Your opponent's. The only way to win the game is by cornering the enemy King.
  • Big Good: Yours. Part of your main objective is to keep him safe.
  • Defense Pattern Delta: His unique special move involves switching places with a rook to form a powerful fortress. Just moving the pieces doesn't work either, the rules actually compel you to yell "Castling!" when performing this maneuver.
  • Harem Seeker: Depending on how many pawns you try to promote to queens. And yes, you can have more than one. Unless you play with "pawn-crosses-board-get-piece-back" rules.
  • The Hero
  • Hostage MacGuffin: Your opponent wants to capture him, you want to protect him.
  • Human Shield: Reversed as when the King is in check he may use his own allies as shields.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: It's illegal for him to put himself in check, and if the opponent puts him in check, he must find a way out of check if possible. If he can't, the game ends.
  • I Want Them Alive: It is actually forbidden to capture/kill the King. Winning the game is all about checkmating the king which is the equivalent of cornering them in a dark alley and putting a knife under their throat.
  • Keystone Army: If the King goes down, they all go down.
  • Large and in Charge: Usually the biggest (tallest) pieces in the set.
  • The Leader
  • Let's Get Dangerous: His short range makes him nigh-on useless in beginning and midgame. It's in the endgame, with its clear board, that he becomes a key player and one of the best asskickers in your army.
  • Martial Pacifist: Prefers to stay behind the front lines... until it's ass-kicking time.
  • Minored in Asskicking
  • Nice Hat: His crown can be pretty cool-looking, depending on how it's designed.
  • Non-Action Guy: If a piece of yours ever actually gets captured by the King in the opening and mid-game, you're either really bad at this or have one hell of a plan.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: As a consequence of only being allowed to fight in the final act of a game.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Double-Subverted, again. Ordinarily, he's simply there to keep your forces from falling apart, and it's only until the endgame where he's allowed a more active role in the board.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In the late-game, he kicks more ass.
  • We Cannot Go on Without You: See Keystone Army above.

The Queen

One of the most important pieces in the game and the most powerful, the Queen can move as far as she wants in any clear direction, and capture anything in her path. However, you only get one, so she must be used wisely. Usually slightly shorter than the King, with a smaller crown.

The Knight

The erratic Knights can only move two squares forward and one to the side (visualize their movement grid as the mighty L block from Tetris), and can 'leap over' any units, ally or enemy, that are in their way. Designed as the head of a horse.

  • Armor Piercing: If your piece is in a Knight's attack range, they can capture it, no matter how many other pieces are in the way or who they belong to.
    • The Knight is the only piece that can deliver a type of checkmate called "smothered mate", where the opposing king is completely surrounded by his own pieces and pawns.
  • Badass: While all the pieces, unless they can capture, are blocked by other pieces, this guy can leap over them, which effectively allows him to teleport in every move. Also, when enemy pieces check the King from the distance, he can use friendly pieces as shields to cover from attacks; not so against the Knight, if he checks you, you have to move away or capture the Knight.
    • Of special note, he is the only piece which can threaten the Queen without being threatened by the Queen in return.
  • Cool Horse
  • Crutch Character: The Knight is more valuable than the Bishop early on, where its ability to jump behind lines can wreak havoc, but later, when the board clears, the Bishop's range makes it the more valuable piece.
  • Lethal Joke Character: In the majority of the very few cases that pawns don't promote to a Queen, they promote to a Knight instead, because it can make moves the Queen can't.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter: The only piece whose movement isn't strictly horizontal or diagonal, which can really mess up an opponent expecting an attack from a Rook or Bishop.
  • Knight In Shining Armour
  • The LancerThe Dragon: The Knight's movements are comparatively erratic, yet are good for making traps.
  • Sadistic Choice: Can be very useful for making forks that other pieces couldn't.
  • Teleport Spam: His special ability.

The Rook

Also known as the 'Castle', these pieces can move in a straight line along the grid. They are placed on the corners of the board, and appear as castle turrets or keeps. Also note that 'castle' also refers to something you do with a rook (and a king).

The Bishop

Pieces initially placed either side of the King and Queen, these can move any distance diagonally on the grid.

  • Back-to-Back Badasses: While a Bishop is usually only as strong as a Knight due to being restricted to only one color of the board, having the Bishops pair (when the opponent doesn't) gives a great advantage by covering the whole board, as they're stronger than Rook and pawn, can hold their own against a Queen by building a fortress with the help of pawns in some situations, have good coordination to help pawns promote, and can mate the King (two Knights can't do that.)
  • Badass Preacher
  • Church Militant
  • Cultural Translation: Before chess reached Europe, this piece represented a war elephant.
  • Evil GeniusThe Smart Guy: Because it can cover the whole board, attacks diagonally (ie. between the squares), and is relatively low in value (so you won't miss it too much if you exchange it), it's a great piece for setting up skewers, discovered attacks and other traps your opponent might not see at first.
  • Nice Hat: Has a mitre on top.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Due to a rule change; previously they could only move diagonally exactly two squares at a time.

The Pawn

The lowest-ranking and most common pieces, of which each player gets eight, placed in front of the other pieces. They can only move one square ahead, though they can also jump two squares on their first move, and they can capture any piece on one of the squares in front and to the side of them. If they are lucky enough to cross the board, they can be promoted to any other piece—usually a Queen.

  • Ascended Extra: After being promoted
  • Badass: With their Shapeshifting abilities after reaching the last rank, allowing them to become any non-King piece, they are powerful threats after reaching high ranks, specially if they're "passed" (they don't have any enemy pawn that can block or attack them in their way), so much that more powerful enemy pieces may need to sacrifice themselves to stop them.
  • Badass Normal: They're the weakest guys around, but they still can sometimes force the enemy Queen to retreat.
  • Cannon FodderRed Shirt Army: Only pawns in the game, well, OK, chess. Mid- to high-level players know better than to abuse this.
  • Death by Origin Story: In several openings (the first moves of the game) the best moves include giving away a pawn or more, usually called a "gambit", where they're not traded for pieces, but instead for mobility and the initiative.
  • Diagonal Cut: Enemy pawn has just moved 2 squares and lands beside you. You take one diagonal step past the enemy shouting "En passant!". You sheathe your sword. Behind you the head of your enemy rolls.
  • Lethal Joke Character: Pawns can move one space forward, are the only pieces bar the knights that can make the first move, get two spaces on their first turn, can only break out of the line they started in when taking, and are commonly used as sacrifices or put into stalemates. So, yeah, they suck. Manage to complete the one-square-at-a-time, no-turning-back journey and you can promote it to any piece you like—usually a queen, even a second one if the first one hasn't been captured yet.
    • Indeed, the pawn's weakness can easily be a strength: As it's considered generally disadvantageous to lose any other piece to gain a pawn, it can often be difficult to eliminate protected pawns (i.e. a pawn that has another piece "guarding" it) with anything other than another pawn.
  • Magikarp Power
  • Mauve Shirt
  • Mighty Glacier: Pawn Lines, a long line of pawns require hitting the piece at the far back to avoid retaliation and can dominate the board, but requires a great deal of turns to maneuver, and are much more vulnerable while doing so.
  • Mook Promotion
  • MooksRed Shirt
  • The Pawn: Trope Namer.
  • Samus Is a Girl: A lot of people simply assume the pawns are male, since they're the Red Shirt Army. However, if a pawn makes it to the far side of the board, that pawn will be promoted, usually to Queen.
  • That One Rule: Pawns can capture "En Passant": the coolest special move in Chess and the one that causes the most confusion.
  • Took a Level in Badass: On crossing the board they get to promote to another stronger piece that is not a king (usually a Queen).
  • Unwitting Pawn: Literally, but not figuratively.
  • We Have Reserves: Played straight by inexperienced players. Completely averted at higher levels, where even one ill-considered sacrifice can be enough to lose.
  • Zerg Rush: Pawns can win by sheer numbers. For instance, three connected advanced pawns can beat a Queen as all she can do is capture one of them, leaving the other two to promote. Case in point here.

The Players

You. Yes, you.