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How Does A King Move In Chess? Know These Simple Rules –

The world of chess is a realm of hierarchy. The chess pieces or chessmen have their respective worth and value. One particular piece that stands head and shoulders above every chess piece is the king. The king is the most valuable chess piece on the board. To lose your king is to forfeit the game. Therefore, anything and everything must be done to protect your king and capture the enemy’s king.

Like the great chess master Alexander Koblentz said, “No price is too great for the scalp of the enemy king.” Therefore, it is necessary to understand the value and characteristics of the king, and a great way of doing so is being able to answer the question, “how can a king move in chess?”.

READ ALSO: Can A Queen Move Like A Knight? Simple Explanation

The King 

How can a king move in chess
The King

As we earlier said, the king is the most valuable chess board piece. Unlike other pieces that have point values (the queen has 9 points, the rook has 5 points, the bishop has 3 points, the knight also has 3 points, and the pawn has 1 point), the king’s point value is infinite as the game itself revolves around the king. The moment the king is attacked and cannot escape, the game ends immediately. Therefore the king has to be given the highest form of protection.  

Mobility: How Can A King Move In Chess?

How can a king move in chess. Red squares show where the king can move to

The question “how can a king move in chess?” can only be answered when you truly understand how the king operates on the chess board. The white king starts on e1, directly across from the black king, who starts on e8. Each king starts on a square opposite its color.

A king can move one square horizontally, vertically, or diagonally unless the square is already occupied by a piece of its color or the move would place the king in check. 

Now that you understand how a king moves, the next important thing to note is King Safety.  

King Safety

A chess game is divided into three segments. The Opening, the Middlegame, and the Endgame. In the opening and the middlegame, the king is meant to be protected as all the enemy pieces will be out to attack it. Therefore, the best form of ensuring the king’s safety is by Castling. 

Castling is a special move in the game of chess where a player moves his king two squares on the board toward a rook of the same rank and moves the rook to the king’s other side.

Castling with the king’s rook is known as castling kingside or castling short, and castling with the queen’s rook is known as castling queenside or castling long. The notation for castling is 0-0 for castling kingside and 0-0-0 for castling queenside.

Queenside castle (left) Kingside castle (Right)

The art of Castling is a necessary box to be ticked in answering the question: “How can a king move in chess?”

Check And Checkmate

Since the game aims to capture the enemy king, your opponents will try everything to capture your king. When a king is in danger or threatened, we say the king is in “Check.” When a check is being delivered, it can be stopped in three ways. 

The Queen on h5 delivers check

The first is to block the check by placing a piece between the king and the chess piece delivering the check.  

The second is to move the king to a safe square; this means that when the king is in check, it is then moved to a square that is free and not controlled by enemy pieces. 

The third way is to capture the enemy piece delivering the check. 

If a check is being delivered, and a player cannot perform any of the three ways of stopping the check, Checkmate is announced. Checkmate is gotten from the Persian word Shah mat, which directly translates to “the king is dead.” When a king cannot escape an enemy’s check, then the game is lost. 

The Queen on f7 delivers checkmate

The King In The Endgame: A Fighting Piece

The endgame is the final stage of a chess game. In the endgame, there are usually very few pieces on the board, and because of this, the king becomes less vulnerable and joins the attack. 

The king is a fighting piece in the endgame, and although his moves are very limited, as he can only move one square at a time, he can be very effective in short-range skirmishes. One very important skill to learn when using the king as a fighting piece is the art of using the OPPOSITION. 

What Is Opposition?

Opposition in chess is a situation in which two enemy kings are two squares apart on the same rank or file. Since kings cannot move adjacent, each king prevents the other’s advance, creating a mutual blockade. In this situation, the player not having to move is said to have the opposition. It is a special type of zugzwang and often occurs in endgames with only kings and pawns.

The white and black kings are in Opposition. Photo credit: The chess world

And there you have it! So now you know the answer to the question, “How can a king move in chess.” 

READ ALSO: Can a King Check another King in Chess?

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