The king is undoubtedly the most important piece in the game of chess. If you’re just learning about the moves a king can take, we’ll have to look into the rulebook a bit more closely.
Putting your own king in a check or checkmate position is not considered a ‘legal move’ in chess. The rules of chess do not allow a king to take out another king. For two kings to attack each other, one king would always need to ‘check’ itself to take out the other king.
If you’d like to take out the opponent’s king, this can only be done with one of the other pieces. All the king can do to attack another king, is provide support to the queen, rook, knight, bishop, or pawn(s).
You Can’t Take Out A King With A King
Subjecting your king to a direct attack from an opponent’s piece is not only strategically incorrect, it’s also impossible if we follow the rules of chess. The ‘check’ position can only be initiated by the opponent. The player cannot do this to themselves.
A king is only allowed to attack other pieces that aren’t currently being defended. This is even allowed while the king is in check itself. It could help your most important piece to move to a safer position, or gain a competitive advantage on the board.
Moving The King To Expose A Check
There is one (somewhat indirect) exception to the rule. The only time a king can take out the opponent’s king, is by moving to expose a check or checkmate. A king could be standing in the way of an attack line from another one of its own pieces.
By moving the king, the supporting piece can then potentially take out the king. The example below shows a situation like this:
While uncommon, a situation like the above can happen. A good chess player will focus on the attack lines of all its pieces:
- The queen attacks row 1 and line c
- The rook attacks row 1 and line e
- Both knights attack d4 and d6, respectively
- The bishop’s (diagonal) attack line is being blocked by your own king
The only solution in this situation would be for white to move their king to any position, except f3. The king could choose to move to position f1, g1, h2, h3, or g3. This will checkmate and ‘take out’ the opponent’s king. An indirect attack, simply by moving your king!
Two Kings Are Left: It’s A Draw
If only two kings are left on the chessboard and no other pieces are left, the game is over. This is derived from the fact that a king cannot possibly attack another king directly. In this type of stalemate, neither players have lost, nor won.
In a tournament setting, both players would receive 0.5 points for their match.
A similar draw is forced when there are two kings and a knight left on the board. Or two kings and a bishop. The point is that the king cannot possibly be driven into a corner for a checkmate.
A king can only support other pieces to take out the opponent’s king. It cannot actively check the opponent’s king itself. It needs the help of enough pieces, so the opponent’s king has no more moves left ánd is being attacked by one of your own pieces.
The main takeaway: A king should always seek the support of other pieces to take out the opponent’s king. He cannot do this by himself.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re a beginner in the world of chess, a lot of the rules can be confusing. Don’t panic! Take your time to learn about the moves kings are allowed to make. Learn the basics, and you’ll naturally start to understand the exceptions. The questions below answer some of the common exceptions.
Can A King Take A King In Check?
While the rules of chess allow a king to take another piece while in check, it is not possible for a king to take another king while in check. A situation like this wouldn’t be possible in a game of chess, since a king is not allowed to directly attack another king.
This answer feeds back into the main topic of this resource. Scroll back to the top to learn why the two most important pieces of the game cannot directly stand next to each other!
If you’re struggling to understand the concepts behind this, don’t worry. Go back to the basics. Learn about the moves kings are allowed to make, and definitely learn about the importance of defending your own king.
Can A King Take A Piece Next To A King?
While the king is allowed to take other pieces in chess, chess rules do not allow a king to take a piece placed directly next to a king. That piece would be defended by the opponent’s king, and a king cannot attack pieces that are actively being defended.
In a situation like this, the king would check itself, which would instantly lose you the game. If the king defends a supporting piece, don’t even bother to come near it with your own!
Can A King Stand Next To A King In Chess?
The rules of chess do not allow a king to stand or move next to another king, as this would result in a check position. Kings should always have a ‘protective barrier’ of at least one chess field in between. This way, the kings don’t threaten each other with a check.
While two kings might be best buddies outside of the game, inside the confines of the chessboard they stay apart. It’s like two magnets that force each other apart. However, the opposing force in a turn-based strategy game like chess is not based on the rules of physics, but the logic of a rulebook.
Also read: Can A King Take A Queen In Chess?