Can The King Attack And Take A Piece In Chess?

The king is not exactly the best piece for an attack. Not only are we dealing with the most important chess piece, but also one that can only move one step per turn. Despite being slow, going for the kill with your king is definitely possible!

The rules of chess allow a king to attack an undefended queen, rook, knight, bishop, or pawn. However, a king is not able to check or take the opponent’s king. Two kings can’t attack each other, because the king can’t check itself to take out the other king.

While it is possible to take other pieces with a king, it’s not necessarily always a good move. Exposing your most valuable piece to your opponent can be very risky indeed. However, the king is able to attack in any direction (under some conditions), which makes it a decent short-range attacker.


Attack Other Pieces With A King

If you’re a beginner in the world of chess, the king is probably one of the least complicated pieces. The possible moves are clear and easy to learn. Each turn, kings are only allowed to move a single step on the board. There’s one special exception, and that’s the castling move.

But then there’s attacking, that’s a completely different part of the game.

A king is allowed to take and kill the opponent’s pieces, even when it’s in check. The rules of chess allow a king to take other pieces under the following conditions:

  • A king can’t attack a piece that’s currently being defended
  • A king can never attack another king
  • A king can’t take another piece while doing a castling move
  • A king can only attack undefended pieces that are positioned within reach, i.e. one square horizontally, vertically, or diagonally from itself.


Taking A Protected Piece Is Not Allowed

Going on the offense with the most important chess piece is a serious risk. If you lose the king, you lose the game. If you have the option to take an opponent’s piece, first make sure it’s completely unprotected.

Other pieces should not be able to take your king after you’ve taken a piece.

That’s why you always need to make a move with caution. Where possible, attack opposing pieces with one of your own supporting pieces. Make sure you don’t ever put yourself in a losing position. Kings are survivors, they need to lead the battle. The supporting pieces can do the dirty work.


Kill Bishop Not Possible
You can’t take ♝ Bishop B5 here, because ♞ Knight D6 is defending.


Attacking Another King Is Not Allowed

It might seem tempting to take on an opponent of your own strength. But the rules of chess don’t allow for it. Two kings in a final showdown end up in a stalemate.

For a finishing checkmate move, a king always needs help. If you still have supporting pieces, use them to your advantage. While the king isn’t able to directly touch another king, it can definitely help ‘push’ the opponent in a corner.

⇒ Read this article if you want to learn why two kings can’t finish each other off.


King Cannot Move Here
Two kings are not allowed to stand next to each other.


Taking A Piece While In Check Is Allowed

Ever found yourself in a losing position with your king? A check is simply a threat by your opponent. There’s nothing ‘final’ about being checked. So don’t worry, you can still turn the game around.

Sometimes, it’s even possible to turn the game around immediately. The rules of chess allow you to attack another piece with your King while in check.

It’s not a very common situation, but 100% allowed!

The example below highlights one of these situations. It’s white’s turn, and you’re being checked by the Bishop () on G5. Bishops can move and attack diagonally, so your King (♔) on E3 needs to escape.

The best move is easy to spot. You can escape, but you can also go for the kill! Because the Rook (♜) on D4 is completely unprotected, taking it by moving the King (♔) diagonally from E3 to D4 is the optimal choice:


King In Check Position Take Rook Piece
While ♝ Bishop G5 checks the King, it can escape by taking ♜ Rook D4.


See how versatile the game’s most important (and slowest) piece can be? A single turn can change a dangerous defensive situation, into an aggressive and game-changing attack!

If you’re still having some doubts about your movements and attack possibilities, don’t worry. You don’t have to learn all this stuff right away. Practice makes perfect, especially in a game with limited moves like chess. Keep learning and you’ll see these moves in no time during your next game!

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