Can you have two queens in chess?

Well, even if the king is skilled enough to handle two, ideally is not recommended for obvious reasons. But Can you have 2 Queens in Chess?

It is possible to get 2 or more queens in a chess game. This can be done by pawn promotion. Theoretically, each side can get up to 9 queens.

In this article, we will dive deep into whether you can have 2 queens in chess, how can you get 2 queens, and how many queens can you have on a chess board?

Recommended blog: Queen in Chess – How Does the Queen Move in Chess?

Can you have 2 queens in a chess game?

Yes, you can have two queens in chess. This happens when you get your pawn to the last rank of the opposite side of chess board and it is promoted to a queen.

Let’s take a closer look at the rule of Pawn promotion in chess.

You might be wondering what happens to a pawn when it reaches the final rank, as it can’t move backward.

The weakest piece in chess, the pawn, can become an extremely powerful piece when it is promoted. This happens when a pawn is promoted after it reaches the other end of the board.

The promotion of a pawn to a major or minor piece is known as pawn promotion

If you’re playing with white pieces, your pawn must reach the 8th rank, and if you’re playing with black, it must reach the first rank before it can be promoted.

So, can you promote a pawn to a second queen?

Pawn promotion can be of 2 types

  • Queening
  • Under promotion

Queening, as the name suggests, is when the player decides to promote their pawn to a Queen.

When a player decides to promote a pawn to anything other than Queen i.e. Rook, Bishop or Knight, it’s known as Under Promotion.

Now you might think if given the opportunity, why wouldn’t someone want to promote their pawns to a queen?

This is usually done by players to show dominance or they might have some other strategic plans when they chose not to Queen.

Also, if a player foresees the likelihood of a stalemate, they may choose not to promote their pawn to the queen and may under-promote it.

(If you have an advantage in the game and are about to promote a pawn, it’s obviously not in the best of your interest for the game to end in a draw by stalemate.)

Needless to say, you can only have one king on the board, and the pawn can never be promoted to a King.

When is it a good idea not to promote your pawn to a Queen?

There may be times when you’ll have to think outside the box and not be greedy. Even though it’s every player’s natural instinct to promote their pawns to a Queen, there might be some situations where you can under-promote your pawn and get an edge over your opponent. Most oftenly players opt for underpromoting their pawn to a Knight that can fork two of the opponents pieces at a time.

Here is an example where promoting the pawn to a Queen might not be the best way to move ahead.

In the above example, it’s white’s move, and the pawn at e7 is going to be promoted.

Now let’s take a look at the various possibilities.

  1. If white decides to promote their pawn to a Queen, the game will suddenly become equal, in terms of material, with both sides having 1 Queen and 2 pawns each. This is not a bad idea, but it’s not the best either, as chess players we tend to think a few steps ahead to gain an advantage.
  1. The second option would be underpromoting it to a Rook or a Bishop. Now if someone decides to do this, they are clearly at a disadvantage, because a Rook or a Bishop is no match against the Queen, especially in the end game.
  1. Now the last and final option is underpromoting the pawn to a Knight. In this situation, the e7 pawn will be promoted to a knight on reaching the e8 square, which will immediately fork both the king and the queen on g7 and c7 respectively. Now the opponent is forced to move the king leaving the queen vulnerable.

As soon as the black king moves, the knight on e8 can capture the queen, which will lead to a clear disadvantage for the black while being a piece down.

Read more if you are not very familiar with the Chess Notations

How many queens can you have in chess?

If you can manage to promote all of your 8 pawns to a queen as they reach the 8th rank on the board, you could theoretically have 9 queens under your control.

9 queens on the field is an uncommon situation that we can’t fathom happening in real play, and there’s no need for most players to have 9 queens on the board.

A few queens on the chessboard can usually lead to a checkmate against even the most formidable of opponents.

Although unlikely, a player could theoretically have 9 queens, 10 knights, 10 bishops, or 10 Rooks. It’s hard to imagine that anyone, even a world champion, would be happy to face such a disadvantage. It’s frustrating, but it happens to the best of us.

Why should you aim for having as many queens as possible?

The Queen boasts the combined strength of Rook and Bishop. This makes the Queen the most valuable piece on the board. Mathematically speaking a Queen is almost the same as a Rook + Minor Piece + Pawn. Which clearly states that the Queen is the strongest piece on the board, encouraging players to try and get as many Queens as possible.

The majority of players never consider promoting a pawn to anything lesser than the Queen. This is because it is by far the most powerful piece and can accomplish nearly everything that any of the other pieces can, as well as a great deal more.

All chess pieces are assigned a value that reflects their worth in exchange. According to this system, the Queen is worth 9 points.

Chess PiecePoints
Pawn1 Point
Knight3 Points
Bishop3 Points
Rook5 Points
Queen9 Points

One thing to bear in mind, the value scale is only intended to give you an idea for the relative value of each chess piece.

The Knight move is the only one that is an exception. (as stated above with an example). 

This is because the Queen cannot perform this move, therefore there will be limited instances where promoting to a Knight is the best method to give checkmate or gain an advantage over the opponent.

Aside from these unusual situations, there is no need to even consider underpromoting your pawns to other major or minor pieces.

Can both players have more than two queens?

Yes, Both players can have more than two queens, although this is highly unlikely to happen.

In Grandmaster play, having more than two queens on a board is unusual, but there have been two games with each player having three queens

And there’s a good reason why there have only been 2 games with 3 queens on the board. Read more if you would want to know how chess grandmasters think.

FIDE rules on pawn promotion

(Screenshot from the FIDE Laws of ChessOpens in a new tab.)

As you can see, the FIDE rules make it very clear that you are free to promote any of the four pieces (Queen♕, Rook♖, Bishop♗, or Knight♘), except the king.

What if the second Queen is not available?

According to FIDE rules, a player is allowed to stop the clock and ask for an arbiter’s help in providing an extra piece for promotion. 

According to US Chess FederationOpens in a new tab. rules and in less formal gameplay, an upside-down rook may instead represent a queen.

However, FIDE does not recognize or accept this rule and instead sees the move as a legal promotion to rook, based on their guidelines.

Sometimes you will find chess sets that come with the standard 32 pieces, while some others contain extra queens of each color. If multiple sets are accessible, promoted pieces will be taken from other sets as needed.

Conclusion: Can you have two Queens in Chess?

Here are some key takeaways from this article

  • It is quite possible to have 2 or even more queens in a chess match
  • Pawn promotion is a move in chess that allows the player to replace the pawn with any piece – Queen, Rook, Bishop or Knight – upon reaching the final rank.
  • Sometimes it’s not always the best option to promote your pawn to a queen.
  • The most queens ever used in a grandmaster game is 6.
  • FIDE and the US Chess Federation have different rules for pawn promotion.

Harikrishnan A

I am an International Fide Rated player with 10+ years of experience. Played many International Chess Tournaments and Commonwealth games.

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