Chess is an abstract strategy board game played on a square board of eight rows (called ranks) and eight columns (called files). There are sixty four squares of two alternating colors, usually black and white. There are 32 pieces in all; sixteen of them are black, and sixteen are white. Each set of sixteen has six types of pieces: one King, one Queen, two Rooks, two Bishops, two Knights and eight Pawns.
Chess pieces used for play are usually tall figurines. Pieces of the Staunton set are the standard design. The height of the king should be between 85 mm and 105 mm. The other pieces should be in proportion to the king. The size of the squares on the board is based on the King and should be approximately 1.25-1.3 times the diameter of the base of the King.
Each piece in a chess set represents a sector of medieval life. Pawns represent peasants. At that time the peasants were considered unimportant to people in power, and hence Pawns are the weakest pieces in the game of chess. They are used primarily as bait to set up an aggressive endgame. Rooks or Castles represent home and sanctuary. Knights represent soldiers who, at that time, were held in high esteem, but not as much as the church or the royal family. Bishops represent priests and are considered more valuable than Knights. The Queen is the most powerful piece on the board, and the King is the one that must be protected at all costs; otherwise the game is lost.
The quality of chess sets vary from cheap plastic ones to expensive, handmade works of art. While many players are content to play chess on a regular board with plastic pieces, others prefer unique chess sets. A variety of different materials are used such as glass, ivory, marble, wood, bone or a composite. Some chess sets are small in size or have magnetic pieces that are convenient for travel.
Natural white wooden pieces of a chess set are usually made of boxwood or sometimes maple. The black pieces in natural wooden sets are made of dark wood such as rosewood, ebony, red sandalwood or walnut.
On the computer, chess pieces are often 2-D symbols on a 2-D board. However, there are some programs with 3-D graphics engines that show the pieces more realistically.