king (chess)[ edit ]

The king (♔♚) is the most important piece in the game of chess. The king represents the prize the opposition seeks to win. If a players king is threatened and cannot escape capture, the king is said to be in checkmate, and the player which owns said king loses the game.

In a conventional game of chess, both players start with their king in the middle-right of their first rank (between the queen and the king-side bishop). In algebraic notation, the white king starts on e1 and the black king on e8.


A king can move one square in any direction (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, as shown left). The exception to this rule is that it may not move onto a square that is threatened by an enemy piece. As with most pieces, it captures by moving onto a square occupied by an enemy piece. Also, in conjunction with a rook, the king may make a special move called castling.

Check and Checkmate

If a players move places the opponents king under attack, that king is said to be in check, and the player in check is required to immediately remedy the situation. There are three possible methods to remove the king from check:

  1. Physically moving the king to an adjacent non-threatened square
  2. Interpose a piece between the king in check and the attacking piece (in order to break the line of threat)
  3. Capture the attacking piece

If none of these three options are possible, the players king has been checkmated and the player loses the game.


A stalemate occurs under a specific set of circumstances:

  • The king is not threatened
  • All valid moves for that player would place the king under attack

If this happens, the king is said to have been stalemated and the game ends in a draw.

Role in gameplay

In the opening and middlegame, the king will rarely play an active role in the development of an offensive or defensive position. Instead, a player will normally seek safety on the edge of the board behind friendly pawns. In the endgame, however, the king emerges to play an active role as an offensive piece as well as assisting in the promotion of their remaining pawns.

It is difficult to assign a value to the king relative to the other pieces, as it cannot be captured or exchanged. In this sense, its value is infinite. But as an assessment of the kings capability as an offensive piece in the endgame, it is often considered to be slightly stronger than a bishop or knight -- Lasker in Laskers Chess Primer gave it the value of a knight and a pawn.

Chess pieces

categories: myChess-Wiki | Chess players | As-Suli | chess strategy | Knight (chess) | Rook (chess) | king (chess)
article No 844 / last change on 2005-07-01, 07:24pm

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This article is based on the article king (chess) from the free encyclopaedia Wikipedia and stands under the GNU-Licence for free documentation. In the Wikipedia a list of the authors is available.

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