King (chess)

From Academic Kids

Image:Chess king icon.png King
Image:Chess queen icon.png Queen
Image:Chess rook icon.png Rook
Image:Chess bishop icon.png Bishop
Image:Chess knight icon.png Knight
Image:Chess pawn icon.png Pawn

The king (♔♚) is the most important piece in the game of chess. The king represents the prize the opposition seeks to win. If a player's king is threatened and cannot escape capture, the king is said to be in checkmate, and the player which own's 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 player's move places the opponent's 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 player's 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

Missing image
The king in chess

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 arguably impossible to assign a value to the king relative to the other chess pieces, because the king cannot be exchanged. Its value in that sense is infinite.da:Konge (skak) de:Knig (Schach) el:Βασιλιάς (σκάκι) es:Rey (ajedrez) eo:Reĝo (ŝako) fr: Roi (jeu d'checs) it:Re (scacchi) nl:Koning (schaken) ja:キング (駒) no:Konge (sjakk) pl:Krl (szachy) pt:Rei (xadrez) sl:Kralj (šah)


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