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Can You Kill To Get Out Of Check? Case-By-Case Explained

Whenever you are in check you have to make a move to get out of it. For this, you can either move your king to a safe square or put a piece between your king and the attacking chess piece. But, can you kill to get out of check?

Yes, you can kill to get out out of check but only if doing so doesn’t put your king into check. As per the standard rules you are not allowed to make a move that puts your king in check.

Further in this article, I’m going to explain this concept case-by-case along with proper illustrative images, so keep reading till the end.

But before that let’s discuss some of the important check rules.

Rules to know when you want to kill to get out of check

  1. You can’t move your king into check intentionally.
  2. You can’t make a move that exposes your king to check.
  3. When you are in check, you can’t make any move other than taking your king out of check.
  4. You can’t check another king because for doing that you have to leave your own king in check which is illegal.

So these are the few rules you must keep in your mind whenever you want to kill for getting out of check.

Now let’s discuss the two cases.

Case-1: When you can kill a piece to get out of check

case-1-when-you-can-kill-to-get-out-of-check-in-chess

It is black’s turn to move and black is in check. Let’s suppose you are black.

The position of the board is as follows:

White king on h2 square, one white pawn on g2 and another on h3 square, the white queen is b7 square, while the white bishop is on the d4 square.

Whereas, the black king is h8 square, black pawn on h7 square, black queen on g8 square, while the black rook on d8 square.

As said it is the black’s turn to move and in this scenario, the white bishop is directly delivering a check to the black king.

So in this case can the black kill the attacking chess piece which is the white bishop?

The answer is yes, black can kill the white bishop with the black rook and get out of check. By doing so the black king doesn’t get into check.

Therefore, since you are not violating any standard rules, you are allowed to capture the attacking piece and get out of check.

Read Related: Can You Castle Out Of Check? (Explained With Rules)

Not just with the rook, you can even kill the attacking chess with your king if the situation is such.

Here’s an example. It is black’s turn to move and it is in check.

case-1-when-your-king-can-kill-to-get-out-of-check

The position of the board is Black king g8 square, pawns on h7, g7, and c5 square respectively. While the white king is on g1 square, pawns on h3, g2, and f2 respectively.

White queen is attacking the black king and the black king is in check.

See Related: Can The King Kill In Chess? (When And When Not, Explained!)

So what would you do as black in this situation? Would you be able to kill the attacking piece to get out of check?

Yes, absolutely because there are no threats for the king. If you kill the queen then you are not in check and hence it is perfectly fine to do so.

Now let’s discuss another case.

Case-2: When you can’t kill a piece to get out of check

case-2-when-you-can't-kill-to-get-out-of-check-in-chess

In this case, also it is black’s turn to move and black is in check by a white knight. Again let’s suppose you are black!

The position of the board is as follows:

White pawn d4, queen on e2, a knight on d6, and the king on its original square e1. Whereas black pawn on c6, one knight on d7 and another on f6, king on e8.

The white knight on d6 is attacking the black king on e8.

So in this case can you (having the black pieces) kill to get out of check?

The answer is no because that would put the black king in check which is illegal.

See, the only way to kill the attacking chess piece (white knight) is by using the black pawn on e7.

But you can’t move that pawn because the white queen on e2 is already attacking it. As soon as you would move the black pawn from its place, the black king gets exposed to attack by the white queen.

Read Related: Can A King Kill A King In Chess? (Explained)

And this means the black king would get into check again. This condition is also known as pinning and it is one of the most common chess tactics used in various games.

So in standard terms, it can be said that since the black pawn is pinned by the white queen on e2 square, it can’t be moved.

And as we discussed earlier, we can’t make a move that puts the king in check. So in this case we can’t kill the white knight by the black pawn to get out of check.

In fact, if you noticed properly, this is the condition of a checkmate which basically means you are in check but can’t get out of it by any means.

Also Read: 7 Checkmate Rules Every Chess Player Should Know

Moreover, this is one of the famous checkmates in chess, called a smothered mate.

By definition, a smothered mate is a checkmate delivered by a knight in which the checkmated king has no vacant squares left to move.

As per dictionary.com, the word ‘smother’ means ‘to suffocate’ and so in a smothered mate, the king is suffocated by its own pieces.

So this was the case when you can’t kill to get out of check because the piece you are going to use is already pinnned.

But there is also a situation in which the attacking chess piece is supported by another enemy piece. Here’s an example. So let’s discuss that as well

It is black’s turn to move as usual and the black king is in check.

case-2-when-your-king-can't-kill-to-get-out-of-check

The position of the board is Black king e8 square, knight g8, the pawn on h7. While white’s king on g2, pawn on h2, rook on d1 and the bishop on d7.

The white bishop is directly attacking the black and it is the black’s turn to move, so can black kill the piece to get out of check?

The answer is no because the white bishop which is the attacking chess piece is already supported by the white rook.

So as soon as the black king would try to kill the white bishop, it would be in check due to the white rook which is again illegal, right?

Therefore, if the attacking chess piece is supported by another enemy piece, then also you can’t kill it.

Conclusion

In short, just remember whenever you are in check, you can get out of it by killing the attacking chess piece as long doing that doesn’t put your king again in check and that’s it!

Hope you found this article helpful and your all doubts are cleared now. If interested, you can also check out my following articles.

Thanks! 🙂

Related Questions:

Can a king kill to get out of check?

Yes, a king can kill to get out of check as long as doing that doesn’t put the king in check again. As per the standard rules, it is illegal to make a move that puts the king in check.

Can a king kill a queen to get out of check?

Yes, a king can kill a queen to get out of check as long as doing that doesn’t put the king in check again. If the queen is supported by another enemy chess piece then the king can’t kill the queen.

Can a king kill when in check?

Yes, a king can kill and take a piece even when in check as long as doing that doesn’t put the king in check. As per the standard rules it is not allowed to put the king in check deliberately.

Can a king move without check?

Yes, a king can move one step in any direction even without check. There’s no such rule in chess that says the king can’t move without check. Check simply means your king is under attack.

Can a king kill without check?

Yes, a king can kill even without check. However, a king can’t kill a piece that is supported by another enemy chess piece because doing that puts the king in check which is illegal.

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