As stated in this question, the convention that the player with the lighter-coloured pieces makes the first move was not established until fairly late in the 19th century.

Before then, what convention (if any) was there as to the placement of the kings and queens? For example, had the convention been established already, that if a player moved first, their king starts to the right of their queen?

Wikipedia is silent on this.

1 Answer 1


According to this translated version of Libro de los Juegos ("Book of Games"), page 7:

And of the other pieces which are greater one resembles the king, who is the lord of the army and he should be in one of the two middle squares.

And next to him in the other middle square, is another piece which resembles the fers (alfferez) who carries the standard of the king's colours. And there are some men who do not know the name and call him "fersa" (alfferza). [...]

It's worth noting that the queen was originally called fers.

  • 3
    This doesn't seem to answer the question.
    – TonyK
    Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 20:31
  • 5
    @double-beep: The question is clearly about left-vs-right (d file vs e file), not center-vs-the-rest-of-the-back-rank.
    – Kevin
    Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 20:33
  • 3
    @Kevin: It suggests a plausible answer of player's choice.
    – Joshua
    Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 20:43
  • Might be interesting to know that in Italian the bishop is called "alfiere", which is pretty similar to alfferez Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 22:43
  • 1
    @MauroGiliberti the "alfiere" in Italian is actually derived from "alfil" (i.e. the elephant). Spanish language kept "alfil" as the word for the bishop, and some other languages (Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish for example) still call the bishop an elephant.
    – trolley813
    Commented Dec 23, 2021 at 8:43

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