Often when you play chess, you get into check. You have to move your king to take it out of the check. But, can a king move without check?
Yes, a king can move without check. A king is free to move any time during the game as long as it doesn’t get into check which is illegal. There is no rule in chess that restricts the king to move until it is in check.
Many chess players have the misconception that a king can only move when it is in check. Until that, you can’t move your king. But it is wrong. You can move your king even if it is not in check.
Don’t worry if you are also having this misconception.
Further, I’m going to explain to you what is actually check, ways to get out of check, what are the standard rules you need to know regarding it plus some other necessary information.
If you are a beginner and want to know exactly How does the king move in chess? then you can also check that out.
This article will really help you to clear all your doubts, so please keep reading till the end. Let’s start!
What is check in chess?
Check means a situation in which your king is under attack. So whenever your opponent attacks your king then you are said to be in check.
But don’t worry if you are in check there are ways to save your king out of the threat. Let’s discuss that!
What are the ways to get out of check?
There are three ways to take the king out of the threat:
- Moving the king away to a safer square.
- Keeping a piece between the king and the piece that gives check.
- Capturing the attacking chess piece.
As you can see in the image, the white king is in check but still, there are two options available for the white king to get out of check.
The white king can either be moved to a safer square or a chess piece (here the black pawn on g2 square) can be kept between the piece giving check and the attacked king to get out of check.
However, the third option of killing the piece giving check is not available here.
So this is how the king can be saved from the check.
Also Read: What happens if king cannot move?
Rules regarding king and check in chess
As per the standard rules of chess:
- You can’t put your own king in check.
- You can’t make a move that leaves the king in check or exposes it to check.
- Once your king is in check you are supposed to first take it out of check and then only make any other move.
- When the king is in check but no legal moves to take out of the check then this condition is called checkmate. The game ends whenever it occurs and the player who gets checkmated loses the game. You can read more about checkmate rules here.
- If the king is not in check but the player has no legal moves left to continue the game then this is the condition of stalemate. The game ends in a draw whenever this occurs.
- In the case of castling, a king can’t castle if it is in check, through a check, or into check. Also, if there is a chess piece between the king and the rook or if the king or the rook has already moved once then you are not allowed to castle.
- A king can kill in chess as long as doing that doesn’t put it in check.
- But one king can’t kill another king because that also puts the first king in check which is illegal.
If you remember these few rules then I can promise you will never make any mistakes.
When can the king move in chess?
A king can move anytime during the game if while moving it doesn’t gets into check.
Here’ an example that shows when a king can move in chess.
As you can see in this image it is the white’s turn to move and the white king is not in check. But still, the white king can move because doing that doesn’t put it in check.
So in the similar situations the king can move without check in chess.
When the king cannot move without check?
When moving the king puts it in check then the king is not allowed to move.
Here’s an example that shows when a king can’t move without check.
In this case, as you can see, it is white’s turn to move and here also the white king is not in check. But can the king move?
The answer is no because in this case there no safe squares available for the white king to move. All the safe square squares available to white king are controlled by the black queen as you can see.
Hence in this case and in similar situations a king can’t move without check.
Read Related: Does a king have to be in check before checkmate?
Also, note that a king can’t move when it is checkmated. Checkmate means the king is in check but there no legal moves left to save the king.
Moreover, there is also another case known as a stalemate in which the king is not in check but the player has no legal moves left to continue the game.
You can read more about these two concepts in my article the difference between stalemate and checkmate.
So that’s it! Hope you understood everything. If you found this article helpful then please consider it sharing with others. And, if you have any doubts then feel free to ask me. Thanks and have a nice day!
Can a king kill without check?
Yes, a king can kill without check. There is no rule in chess that restricts the king to kill until it gets into check. However, a king can’t kill if doing that puts it in check which is illegal.
Can a king move without checkmate?
Yes, a king can move without a check or checkmate. However, a king can’t move when it is checkmated. By definition, checkmate means that there are no legal moves left to save the king from the threat. The game ends immediately whenever a checkmate occurs.
Can the king attack in chess?
Yes, a king can attack and even capture the opponent piece. However, a king can’t attack if doing that puts the king in check because it is illegal.
Hi! I’m Pritam and I’m a huge chess enthusiast! I know the actual problems that chess players face. I created this site to make chess easy to understand for newcomers, and also to help players of all levels of ability to improve their chess playing skills. Read more about me here.