The king is one of the most important chess pieces. Discover the king movement in chess and how you can use it to checkmate your competition.
Anyone acquainted with the game of chess knows very well that the king in chess is the weakest and the most vital out of all the chess pieces simultaneously. To make better sense of this paradoxical statement, we need to delve deeper into the theme of ‘king movement in chess’.
The king in chess retains its hold over the entire game without actively participating in the game’s happenings. The movement of the king in the chess game remains restricted to one square each in any given direction. And when the king moves in chess, it is only under particular circumstances.
Generally, a chess player utilizes other chess pieces apart from the king to snatch a victory over their opponent.
‘King Movement In Chess’ Explained
As we have already seen, when it comes to ‘king movement in chess’, it remains limited to one tile movement in any direction of the chess board. As most of you reading this article know, chess pieces can move either forward, backward, sideways, or diagonally on any chess board.
This means that the king is not that powerful for all practical purposes. The centrality associated with the king is more symbolic in nature. King movement in chess rules dictate that the king stays in a safe spot during the entirety of a match.
Under no circumstances can a king willfully move into a space teaming with a threat, and chess rules on king moves have clearly barred such occurrences at all costs.
The movement of the king in a chess game determines the outcome of the match in most cases. In any chess contest, any player’s ultimate goal is to capture or corner the rival king. Once this occurs, the game ends, and a victor emerges.
The king is the most easily recognizable of all the chess pieces on a chess board, and this is because the king has a distinct cross on the crown. By size, too, the king comes across as the largest of all chess pieces on the board.
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King Movement In Chess: ‘Check’
When an opponent’s piece directly attacks a king, this instance is termed a ‘check’. Any king must immediately get to a safe spot under a ‘check’. It can do so by moving itself or letting one of its pieces block the check, either by capturing the rival piece or getting in the way of the ‘check’.
King Movement In Chess: ‘Checkmate’
There will be situations when a king will not find any way to escape a check from a rival chess piece, and the king must admit defeat and get captured when such an occasion arises.
This particular instance is referred to as a ‘checkmate’ in chess terminology. A chess game comes to an end when either player is able to checkmate their opponent.
King Movement In Chess: ‘Castling’
One of those moves that make chess such a unique strategy game is something known as ‘castling’. ‘Castling’ involves the king and the rook. This typical move can be initiated just once by each player.
The central idea behind ‘castling’ is to protect the king from any harm using the rook early on in the game. There are two critical byproducts of castling – one being the removal of the king from harm’s way and the second bringing the cornered rook into the centre of the chessboard.
For the application of such an unprecedented move, there have to be certain norms that need to be followed. Firstly, the king and the rook need to be at their starting places at the time of castling. In other words, the king and rook must not be disturbed even once prior to casting.
Secondly, as is visible at the start of a match, there are other chess pieces between the king and the rooks on either side. So, the idea is to get those other pieces out of the rank to get an unclogged way for castling.
Thirdly, and most importantly, a player cannot go with castling when their king is facing a ‘check’. Moreover, chess rules on king move state that one cannot castle the king after being checked even once during the game. King movement in chess rules are very strict with this convention.
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Castling can happen on both sides of where the king stands. If the king is moved toward that side of the chess board where there stands the queen, it is called ‘queenside castling’. When the reverse takes place, it is denoted as ‘kingside castling’.
It is generally easier to castle kingside due to the absence of one extra chess piece – the queen.
Once castling occurs, the king will get behind a wall of pawns in front of it and a rook to cover its one side. Many better chess players attempt castling at the very beginning of a match, which ensures that the king is moved to a safer place in the game’s early stages.
How King Moves in Chess ‘Endgame’
The king is the most vital piece and the most vulnerable piece at the same time. So, for most of a match, players try to shield the king from any threat, and this bars the king in chess from getting involved in the game to a greater extent.
However, when a match enters the so-called ‘endgame’ phase – the last stage of a chess game, the chess board is cleared of most of the chess pieces. This is when the king gets the opportunity to come out of the safety net and get actively involved in the game.
With the reduction in threat coming in from the multitude of opposition chess pieces, the king finally gets a shot to use its power to dictate the match. Like any other regular piece, this is when the king moves about freely over the chess board with reduced fear of getting checked or checkmated.
During the endgame, the king becomes more potent than the bishop and the knight. This is because the king gets the strength to attack and defend each tile next to it. The king also comes in handy in the form of a support piece at this stage when going for an attack on the opposition.
It is no wonder that most experienced chess professionals activate their king the moment the game enters the endgame phase. This allows them to multiply their options for getting the better of their rivals. So, as a rule of thumb, the king gets more powerful with a lesser number of chess pieces on the chessboard.
Can the King Attack in Chess?
Since the king moves only one square/tile/block in each direction, it is challenging to launch an attack on the opponent using this piece. In fact, the king depends entirely on the same-color pieces to protect itself and survive the opponent’s repeated onslaughts throughout a match.
The king’s movement in chess is limited to just one square in any direction, so it can capture other chess pieces lying next to it. The king does come in handy during the latter stages of the game, mainly when the game enters the ‘endgame’ phase.
This is when both players usually lose most of their chess pieces, and the kings become suddenly prominent. There are several great chess players who use the king at the dying stages of the game to eke out wins for themselves.
Now that we have covered the day’s topic, check out our other blog titled ‘The 10 Best Chess Defences in 2022’ to understand how to defend chess like a pro!