# In a game of chess, how do You think the knight moves?

Asked by poisonedantidote (21611) November 1st, 2010

Do you see the knight as a piece that moves in an ‘L’ shape? or do you see it as a piece that moves at an angle of 22.5 degrees?

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I think the horsey makes an “L.” Or a “7.”

mrentropy (17168)
Response moderated (Spam)

I see it as an L. I love math but I don’t think in terms of degrees. I love chess!

An L.
Sometimes I see it flying off the board in a fit of anger….kinda like a teeny weeny pegasus XD

Half a capital Y, one square forward then one diagonal

jaytkay (25763)

I gotta go with “L” shape.

janbb (51205)

One horizontal line connected to one vertical line.

FutureMemory (24471)

When i first started playing chess, i was told that is moves in an ‘L’ shape. but the more i play, the more i see it as moving at an angle on 22.5 degrees. between a bishops 45 degree angle and a rooks 0 degree angle. or the same but with the rook moving at 90 degrees. I also see the knight as kind of bombing a circle of defense around its self.

i wonder if that was the inventors intention, to have it move at 22.5 degrees, but to explain it to people the ‘L’ story got propagated

I see it as, up and over.

CMaz (26218)

Thanks to you, now I see it as both.

Cruiser (40393)

Two in one direction, one at a right angle to the first direction, or one in one direction and two at a right angle to the first direction.

If it were about moving 22.5 degrees, then I would think the knight could move at that angle until it runs into the end of the board. The two plus one, or one plus two makes it clear that’s the end of the move.

wundayatta (58525)

An upside down L.

Aster (18221)

It’s one “L” of a mover.

ucme (45366)

L shape.

weeveeship (4584)

I see it the same as @jaytkay, more like half a Y. Forward one and diagonally forward another one.

downtide (23468)

Put a king on a central square of an empty board. Ask the student to point out each of the squares the king can move to. Mark the squares with pawns of one color. After eight squares are marked, take the king away. Ask what kind of geometric pattern has been drawn. It’s a square or a box, yay. How far away are the points on the square from the center? One square. Kings move one step. To which direction? Any direction. Take a straightedge (ruler, postcard, whatever). Place the straightedge between the center of that square — that is, where the king started — and each point on the outer square — the points to which the king may move. Does the king move in a straight line?

Everyone can agree that the king moves in a straight line, one square away, in any direction.

Now draw a different square. Put the king back in the center of that square, remove the pawns. Now ask to mark points on a square that is two squares away from the king.

When the student names or marks a square that is the same color square as the center point (the king’s square), mark it with a pawn that’s the same color piece as the king. When the student marks an opposite-color square, mark it with an opposite-colored pawn.

When 16 squares are marked, take the king away from the center, replace it with a knight. Then remove the same-colored pawns. What’s left behind is the typical star pattern that beginning chess books use to demonstrate a knight move.

Take the straight edge. Place the straight edge between the knight and the points on the square that were two squares away. Ask the same questions.

Do knights move in a straight line? Yes.
How far do knights move? Two squares away.
To which color square? The opposite color.

Draw a giant L in space. Ask the student(s) how many penstrokes it takes to draw an L. That takes two. People who learn that “knights move in an L shape” learn knight moves in two steps, one long penstroke, then a shorter one. After they relearn the right way to move a knight, they save half the time forevermore. Same with “forward one, diagonally forward another”. Those are two-step thoughts; knights move in one step just like every other unit.

Eight years ago, I couldn’t teach that as well as I do now. But I wrote a four-page magazine article How to Move a Knight on Page 20 of the March/April 2002 issue of the California Chess Journal. I’ll have to write that piece again, incorporating the good bit about extending the king’s one-step square to two squares, then replacing the king.

This is actually the first time I’ve ever heard anyone talk about a knight move as a 22.5-degree angle, even though that is 100 percent correct, and probably the right way to explain it to a few people.

Some of the greatest chess minds in history don’t know the right way to explain or teach a knight move; it’s screwed people up for hundreds of years.

I always visualized it literally, in terms of three squares and not four, where a diagonal joins the single square to the two at a right angle to it. Never an L, because the corner is missing. I never went to all the trouble that @chielamangus describes because I simply saw the shape of the move and put the piece there, in the same way that I saw the shape of a minor or seventh or diminished chord on the piano in relation to the dominant and could find it in any key.

In chess the correct moves were easy. It was when and where to make them that killed me.

Jeruba (45834)

@chielamangus Why does it matter whether players think of an L or a straight line? I enjoyed following the explanation as “all the king’s two-square moves minus the same-colored squares.” But does that affect play?

This is an earnest question, I am not challenging or doubting. I am a chess tyro but I like to read about the game.

jaytkay (25763)

Why does it matter whether players think of an L or a straight line?

It saves thinking time to see a knight as moving two squares to the opposite color, which is one stroke of a pen. An L-shape takes two pen strokes, twice as much thinking. In the life of a chessplayer, saving half the energy while thinking about knight moves adds up hugely.

It doesn’t change the play, but it aids one’s calculation.

@chielamangus Interesting. I can picture that. Thanks!

jaytkay (25763)

It’s also more consistent to think of a knight moving in a straight line. All the units move in a straight line — to teach one moving in a disjointed fashion doesn’t make sense.

It moves in an L but attacks multiple squares. To me i think that it is a very annoying pest to the opponent.

Eggie (5591)

If you have men blocking you, it’s odd he can just jump over them.
I see him as a mole, who digs underground, and pops up an L away.

filmfann (44461)

I see the knight as the only piece that can attack a queen without putting itself in danger, the only piece that can skip over other pieces as well as the only piece whose attacks can’t be blocked. Just look at the old smothered checkmate as an example.

They are very hard to defend against. You have to calculate where its going to jump and calculate what squares it will attack when it jumps.

Eggie (5591)