Orientate the board correctly. Set up the board like this - it's important that it's the right way round. A white square is always on the right, from the perspective of the players who are sitting at the board.
Set up the pawns on the board. Put the pawns on the board as shown. They go along the second row. A row of white pawns, and a row of black pawns.
Place your rooks (castles) on the board. The rooks go on the furthest corners. White rooks with the white pawns, black rooks with the black pawns. Place them as shown here.
Place your knights (horses) on the board. Place your knights as shown - they go next to the rooks. You should now have a row of four empty squares between your knights.
Place your bishops on the board. Place your bishops on the chess board as shown here. Each bishop goes next to its knight of corresponding colour. You should now just have a row of two squares between your bishops.
Place your queen on the board. Place your queen as shown. It's important that she goes on her own colour. The black queen on a black square, the white queen on a white square. This will leave one empty square between your queen and a bishop.
Place your king on the board. Place your king as shown here. He fits in the last square between your queen and a bishop. He will be on a square that's different to his own colour.
You are now ready to play. White moves first.
Identifying the Pieces
Use this diagram to identify the pieces by their most commonly used name. This picture is of a classic and very traditional Staunton chess set. This makes identification of the pieces really easy. Some themed chess sets make it harder to immediately identify which piece is which. So for a really serious game of chess, we always recommend using a Staunton pattern chess set.