I recently bought a set of wooden chess pieces, which I liked for its simplicity.

I'm not sure, however, which one is supposed to be the king and which one is supposed to be the queen.

I would say that the one with the spike is the queen, and the one more flat is the king. Am I right, or is it the opposite?

Chess pieces, one with a pointed crown on the left, and one with a rounded crown on the right

6 Answers 6


In general, a chess set has the king as the tallest piece, followed by queen, bishop, knight, rook and pawn in that order. Notice in the starting position how the piece height decreases smoothly from the centre to the edge. (Also, when buying a chess set, usually the height of the king is given as a guide to the size of the chessmen.)

Thus I would say the king is the taller of the two pieces, which from your picture looks to be the one with the spike on the left.

This ordering of height may not hold for particularly ornate decorative sets.

However, if you're not going to use the set to play against other people in tournaments (where usually Staunton pieces are mandated anyway), the correct answer would probably be: the king is whichever piece you think it is.


At first glance, the taller piece with skinnier top would appear to be the King while the shorter, rounder piece would appear to be the Queen.

There are a few reasons why this would appear to be the case. The King often has a cross on top and the taller piece with the spike appears to more closely resemble that than the shorter piece, and in some sets the King looks like a larger bishop and the taller piece more closely resembles that, too. The Queen in some sets looks like a larger rook and the shorter, rounder piece more closely resembles a rook than the other piece.

Note: re prior commenter: the bundesform chess sets I have seen are even simpler in design than this and while some have tall bishops, the King is still taller than the Queen


It doesn't matter.

As long as you and your opponent are in agreement about which one is the king and which one is the queen, it doesn't really matter what they were "supposed" to be.

That said, if they're easy to mistake, then you run the risk of someone making a misplay because they got confused about which one is which. Which would be unfortunate. If you and your opponent have different intuition about which one "looks" like the king, one of you will be disadvantaged by the arrangement you choose, no matter what you choose. So talk things over with your opponent before the match begins.

  • 1
    Since there are people supporting to crown different pieces as king, I assume this is the only sensible answer
    – David
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 9:32
  • 5
    If you and your opponent have different intuition about which one "looks" like the king then put a marker on them like a piece of bluetak ... or use a different set ;)
    – UKMonkey
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 16:52

The piece on the right clearly reminds me of kings from German "Bundesform" piece sets, which are still occasionally used in Germany, although very rarely in tournament play. The left piece does not exactly look like a "Bundesform" queen, but it is still somehow similar.

  • 4
    Look again. Clearly the King is the largest and the queen has a stylized crown.
    – TaW
    Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 9:39
  • 3
    I did not say that this is a Bundesform piece set, it would be just quite coincidental if the queen in one set would exactly look like the king from a known piece set style, so I find it more likely that this set is derived from or related to the Bundesform. And if you look at the above picture you also might recognize the stylized little crown on top of the left piece. Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 10:38

It's very simple. The piece with the pointy top is the "King". As such, the other piece is the "Queen" by default.

  • 3
    I've seen many chess sets where the queen had a pointier top than the king (one example can be seen here). This doesn't seem like a reliable way to resolve the dilemma.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 3:52
  • 2
    This is just a completely unjustified assertion and I'm amazed that people are voting it up. Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 22:03
  • the queen had a pointier top than the king But it is still the smaller piece. This seems to be the one consistent property.
    – TaW
    Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 6:35

The king is the one on the right, because that is the shape I know a chess king has, just that the cross is left out, still it has the shape of a King, therefore the right one is the king.

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