When a pawn finally reaches the eighth rank, then it can be promoted to rook, knight, bishop or queen. It is not hard to imagine that a soldier who has achieved a lot could be promoted to an officer. However, it is almost incredible that a meritorious fighter would eventually become a queen, even though the old queen is still alive.

So my questions are:

  1. Is every pawn female?

  2. Could a king marry more than one queen in ancient times?

  • 1
    The following link speaks directly to your questions, and points out that your worry about multiple queens was once quite common (e.g. Philidor agreed). en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Promotion_(chess)#History_of_the_rule
    – ETD
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 12:31
  • 1
    I understand, queen is originally general or minister, interesting.
    – Popopo
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 12:45
  • 3
    Even in relatively modern times, a king might have more than one queen without "marrying" them. Mme de Pompadour was the second "queen" of Louis XV. She arguably started out as a "pawn."
    – Tom Au
    Commented Mar 17, 2013 at 14:05
  • 5
    Are this questions a joke or am I missing something?
    – Buksy
    Commented Jan 11, 2014 at 10:58

4 Answers 4


In the original form of the game from which chess probably derived, chaturanga, there was no piece named "Queen".

The Queen of modern chess probably derived from a piece named "General": in the beginning this piece could move 1 square only diagonally, then its movenemt became more and more similar to the modern Queen. But there's more: in chaturanga there were pieces very similar to pawns, "Soldiers", that could become Generals after having reached opponent's King field.

When chess was imported in Europe, during Middle-Age and Reinassance, passing especially through Spain, pieces were renamed in order to give european players a more comfortable playing background. For example, the uncommon "Elephant" became "Bishop" (a very well known figure in catholic regions). And the General became the "Queen". But they only renamed pieces without changing the mechanic of the game. Thus, a "Soldier" could (and can) still be promoted.

  • 2
    In the Middle East, the Queen is called the Vizier. Interestingly, even in Hungarian it's not a Queen but a word which can bot mean Vizier or Commander.
    – vsz
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 4:09

To answer your questions...

  1. I never checked
  2. It's good to be the king - Mel Brooks

In the original game (and perhaps even today), what Europeans call the queen, the Indians call the Advisor.

It's just a language thing.


"Queen" in this instance, means "second in command."

Most "queens" in real life are only wives of kings. They typically aren't "second in commands." Exceptions might occur if the king was weak or incapacitated, or if the king died and his minor son became "king," in which case his MOTHER might be the Queen REGENT. ruling for her minor son. In such a situation, you might have a second "queen" when the king grew up and got married.

A better term for "queen" in chess might be "prime minister." Normally, you wouldn't have two Prime Ministers, but if there was an exceptionally valiant and accomplished soldier, you might, one (the soldier) for war, the other (original one) for peace.


It makes no sense. They should promote pawns to generals. The general should be able to move exactly like the queen.

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