Chess is unique in the way that it allows the weakest piece to be converted into something very powerful. This is the ability of the pawn to be promoted once it reaches the other side of the board.
One question that most beginners ask is the possibility of having two queens or more. After all, it looks broken to have multiple queens at the same time.
A player is allowed to have as many queens as possible only limited by the number of pawns that can be promoted. A common practice is stopping the clock and finding another Queen piece or turning the rook upside down to represent it as a Queen.
I know that’s a very simple and less detailed explanation so I want to talk about everything. By the end of this you should have learned the tournament rules regarding the number of queens and some common practices.
What is the procedure in tournaments when a player wants 2 queens or more?
In tournaments, a player who will bring a second queen should stop the clock and ask the arbiter for an extra queen piece.
It is important to not be rash and dictate some vague pieces as a Queen in formal competitions. Participants in these settings are willing to take any path to victory and this may cost you punishments.
The common etiquette if you ever need something is stopping the clock which you should do in this case. The arbiter usually provides an extra queen that could be used when multiple queens are about to be brought on the board.
You should make use of that extra queen whenever you need that special promotion. Do not use any representation and claim that it is supposed to be a queen, it is illegal and you should use an actual queen.
Also, take note that you should be using the same color if you’re going to represent something, so if you are white use a white queen and vice versa. There might be some nasty penalties if you are to switch colors just because you can’t find another alternative.
I know that sounds really basic but I want to paint a general picture so I’m going to include even that.
Is it legal to have as many queens as a player can promote?
A player in chess can promote up to 8 queens if possible (since there are only 8 pawns) the only limitation is on the number of pawns, though even 2 queens are rare.
It is legal in chess to have as many queens as you want as long as you’re able to promote them which is mostly the problem. You’re likely to lose some of your pawns early in the game making it uncommon to have more than two queens.
But if you can do it for some reason that exists, it surely is legal concerning the rules of chess. This means that the limit on the number of queens you can promote is dictated by the existence of pawns.
You are able to have another queen adding to the one you already have, or another one after that. As long as you’re able to achieve them through legal means (promotion) then it is allowed.
But then again, it’s very rare for one to use more than two queens in a single game. The pawns are just too vulnerable to even reach the other side of the board (if both players are competent).
However 2 queens are very possible, so it’s important to know the correct procedure to do when such a thing occurs. Some opponents may take advantage of beginners (about the promotion rule) turning the tide in their favor.
Can both players have more than two queens at the same time?
Both players can have more than two queens, in fact as many queens as possible have a total of 16 (since there are 8 pawns on each side that can promote).
Obviously such an ability is not only limited to one player but is able to be accomplished by both sides. This means both players are able to promote more than one queen, having a wide variety of possibilities on the board.
Adding the potential queens that the two players can have, it’s really possible to have a queen-fest of a game. Though the 16 queens should be theoretically possible, it is still hard to achieve even when doing it deliberately.
So don’t think you’ll get to encounter one of these queen-slugged games since I don’t even know that if it can happen unintentionally. The pawns are going to bump into each other early and will blockade further advances.
And since both players don’t really want to help their opponent promote, it adds another obstacle for achieving 16 queens. Again, the most that you can expect is two queens for both sides (4) otherwise the thing should already be a won game.
But if it exceeds even that, it is still legal as long as there are no other reasons why the game should end (draw, resign, etc.).
Do different federations impose different rules regarding the number of queens?
In Fide, a player is supposed to stop the clock and ask for another queen piece if more is needed. In USCF, the player is allowed to use an upside-down rook and treat it like a queen.
Different federations will impose different rules since the one who is governing them is different. Some of you may not know this but federations can occasionally deviate from one another such as the case here (promoting to many queens).
In fide you are not allowed to use an upside-down rook and shall be treated as a regular rook once it is on the board. Such rule may not apply to USCF or other smaller lesser known federation that imposes other rules.
When I talk about Fide I say the international federation that would apply to most tournaments you’ll see. Having two or more queens in such a setting would require you to bring another queen from another set.
What you should do is stop the clock and ask the arbiter for a queen if there aren’t any, since you don’t want to get penalized. In USCF, players are allowed to use an upside-down rook as long as you clarify that it should be a queen.
Though in the absence of the player’s announcement to the contrary, an upside-down rook shall be considered a queen (USCF) I just want you to be safe. You should make clear that the upside-down rook is supposed to be a queen (USCF) to avoid further complications.
The USCF is a federation that applies to the United States (local) which is different from international (Fide). Just be really sure you check whether the federation you’re participating in has a clause about this since you don’t want to mess up.
In my first tournament they have provided direct instruction addressing this since most of us are beginners (how to have more than two queens). So you can even ask the arbiter this specific question since it should not be that hard to answer.
Though you should try to get an actual queen first before doing the upside-down rook or any other representation. If you do this upside-down rook thing when there’s a queen available it may cause an issue.
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What other representations are there if there are no queen pieces to promote?
Some queen substitutes you can use on a game that has more than one queen is an upside-down rook, a face down crisscrossed pawn, a face down single pawn, or a bishop.
If there are no queens one can choose to turn the rook upside down (and represent it as a queen) even at informal games. The rook looks like a queen but can be differentiated from it (unlike the Bishop).
I think this is the best option since there are two rooks that can be used upside down, and there rarely are any cases where you’ll get to use more than two queens.
I personally use it when I’ll get to have more than one queen (though in tournaments I’ll be more careful). Other forms of representation for a queen is a crisscrossed pawn, pawn laying down, or even a bishop (as long as you clarify).
If you are using an upside-down rook or any other form, it’s better to clarify to the opponent that you intend that to be a queen. Especially if something serious is on the line, they may use that as a form of excuse to induce a penalty.
But really, it just depends on your agreement with the opponent as long as it is not formal (in tournaments). This is why it’s important to clarify that you are bringing another queen just to be sure.
Are you capable of bringing more than two queens in your own games?
This rule in chess (the ability to promote multiple queens) makes it interesting and should stay that way for long. If you are a decent player then bringing floods of queens is not necessary to finish the game.
However it is still important to be aware of this question since it may be applicable in specific situations. After all, we need all the knowledge we can learn if we are hoping to be a good player.
I really hope I was able to accomplish that role by writing this article, sleep well and play chess.