When a queen wants to capture a king, immediate danger looms on the chess board. With the most important piece under a checkmate threat, the king in check must defend itself at all costs.
A king can take a queen in chess, but only if the opponent’s queen is not protected. The rules of chess allow a king in check to attack and capture an undefended queen. Due to the king’s limited range of movement, it always takes a queen from a check position.
Chess rules do not allow a king to put itself into check to capture a queen. This is why taking a queen is only possible directly after she launched her risky attack.
If an attacking queen is actively being protected by a supporting piece, a checkmate is likely. The only escape would be to move away from the check position. Moving a supporting piece in between isn’t possible here, because the queen would be placed directly next to the king.
The King Can Take A Queen (Sometimes)
While the king can technically capture a queen, the situation is extremely rare. Not only that, it’s often the result of a big mistake made by your opponent! That’s because a king is only allowed to take a queen when she is not being defended by a supporting piece.
Before you attack another piece with the king, players should remember the following:
- A king is only allowed to attack and capture an undefended piece;
- A king can attack other pieces while in check, but is not allowed to put itself into check;
- A king should be aware of any future checkmate risks after exposing himself to an attack.
With these tips in mind, let’s check out an example. While a queen is the strongest chess piece, she’s definitely not invincible. Always make sure you defend your attacking pieces! The situation below could play out very quickly after the start of a new game:
The example above shows how the risky attack from black quickly failed:
- ♛ Queen moved from f6 to take the ♙Pawn on f2;
- ♔ King on e1 is now in check;
- ♝ Bishop on c5 intended to support and defend ♛ Queen f2, but the ♙ Pawn on d4 is blocking it’s diagonal path;
- ♔ King e1 can safely attack and capture diagonally to take ♛ Queen f2.
Once a king gets the opportunity to capture an opponent’s queen, immediately taking it is the only logical thing to do. The queen is a very strong and valuable piece. Any chess game where you’ve ‘killed’ the queen without trading it for your own is a big advantage.
But remember: only in rare board situations will a king be able to successfully take a queen. Usually, the opponent hasn’t been paying enough attention to defending her. That’s why beginners will encounter this situation more often than advanced and experienced players.
When The Queen Cannot Be Taken
More often than not, the king is not able to capture the queen. If a supporting piece defends the queen, the king may not attack it. In this context, defending means ‘the ability to immediately capture whichever piece takes the queen’. An example of such a defense could look like this:
The example above shows how the queen cannot be taken by the king. The ♝ Bishop on c5 is successfully defending the ♛ Queen on f2. A king can’t checkmate itself, so the only possible move is a diagonal ♔ King move from square e1 to d2 (right above the white queen).
Remember that the ♛ Queen on f2 can be defended by any of the available black pieces. King, bishop, knight, rook, pawn: it doesn’t really matter. The point is that another piece can take the ♔ King immediately after it would attack ♛ Queen on f2.
It would make sense for the opponent to defend the queen while it is attacking your king. After all, you don’t want your queen to be taken by a king, it’s a bit embarrassing!
A King In Check Can Take A Queen
Remember that every time a king is able to take a queen, it is already in check. That means: the queen is actively threatening a check(mate) at that moment. If the king can just capture the attacking queen, it’s only an empty threat. So don’t be afraid to retaliate.
Beginners might not always know this, but it is definitely allowed for a king in check to take another chess piece. Again, only if that attacking piece is not actively being defended.
Let’s try one more example, so you really get the hang of this:
If the queen in the example above was actively being defended, this 100% would have been checkmate. But a crucial part is missing. ♛ Queen on g2 is on a solo attack mission. In chess, that usually translates into certain death. ♔ King on g1 simply attacks and takes ♛ Queen g2. Oops!
Also, remember that we said ‘a king may not put itself into check‘. You can’t just walk over to an opponent’s queen and pretend she doesn’t have an attack ability of her own.
The rules of chess don’t allow you to walk the king into the queen’s range of attack by yourself. She has to come to you on her own initiative.
Similarly, there will never be a situation where a king could take the opponent’s king.
A King In Checkmate Can’t Take A Queen
But what if the queen in that last example wás defended? It would have ended the game. A king in a checkmate position can’t do anything anymore. One small difference transforms the same situation from a blunder move into a game-winning move:
The board situation above results in a successful checkmate for black. Compared to the previous board example, only one small thing changed! The ♝ Bishop on h3 now actively defends the ♛ Queen on g2. That means that ♔ King g1 is not allowed to attack and take the ♛ Queen on g2.
Checkmate, game over. Black wins here.
That’s how small the difference is between losing the queen and simply winning the whole game. Taking a defended piece can’t be done by the king. But if the opponent blunders their queen into your hands, you simply capture it! And yes, the king is allowed to do that (under specific conditions).
Also Read: What Direction Can A King Attack In Chess?