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Can You Put Yourself In Check? Here’s What Happens!

So you have learned the basic chess rules and started playing the games. You might have understood that to attack your opponent’s king you need to deliver the check, right? But in chess, can you put yourself in check?

No, you are not allowed to put yourself in check. As per the standard rules, you can’t make a move that puts your own king in check. If you accidentally put yourself in check then it would be considered an illegal move.

You have to make a different legal move when you put your king into check by mistake. Moreover, remember that, once you are in check, you can’t make any move other than taking your king out of check.

Is this all sounding very odd to you? I understand, so let’s first discuss the basics of what is actually the check, and then I will discuss with you the important check rules and other related questions. So keep scrolling till the end!

What is a check?

‘Check’ means when your king is attacked by one or more of your opponent’s pieces.

Note the word ‘attack’. So whenever your king is under attack or threat, you can say that your king is in check.

So to put someone in check means to attack his or her king with your pieces. But remember one thing, that you can’t check someone’s king by your own king.

See Related: Can A King Take A King In Chess? (Explained)

Here’s an example of what is check:

can-you-put-yourself-in-check-here's-what-happens

Explanation – Let’s suppose you are having the black chess piece while your opponent with the white chess piece.

Now in the given condition (see the image) the your opponent’s white queen is directly attacking your black king, isn’t it?

So you are said to be in check in this position.

You may be wondering why I have marked cross and tick on some squares and I’m coming to that.

Check only means your king is under attack. It doesn’t end the game. You still have the chance to take your king out of the danger zone and there are actually three ways to get out of check.

  • Moving your king to a safe square
  • Capturing (killing) the opponent’s attacking chess piece or
  • By putting a piece between your king and your opponent’s

So out of these three ways to respond when you are in check, in this example here you have to use the first way – moving the king to a safe square. (Moreover, there’s no option other than that, right?)

Also Read: What happens if king can’t move?

The square that is marked with a red color cross and the square where the king is placed is under the direct threat of the white queen. But the right marked squares are safe so you can move your black king to any of them.

Easy, isn’t it?

Checkmate means your king is under attack and you don’t have any legal moves left to get out of the attack. Hence the game immediately ends after checkmate.

The player who gets a checkmate loses, while the opponent wins. In short, when checkmate occurs you have no hope of saving your king but in check, the hope remains, right?

You can read more about checkmate and its rules in this detailed article, 7 Checkmate Rules Every Chess Player Should Know!

Now after knowing what is check, how to respond to it, how to get out of it, and the difference between check and checkmate, one question may arise in your mind

Why can’t you move into check?

You can’t move into check because as per the standard rules you are not allowed to do so. According to Wikipedia, Persians added the rule that the king could not be moved to check or left in check. Since then it is part of the standard rules of chess.

Historically according to Wikipedia, chess first originated in India by the 7th century AD, and from there it spread through Persia, Arab, and finally to Europe.

In the process, many changes took place and this rule was also one of those changes.

Read Related: Do You Have To Say Check? What Happens If You Forget?

Here are some important check rules in chess you need to know:

  • You can’t move your king into check deliberately.
  • Also, you can’t make a move that exposes your king to check or leaves the king in check.
  • Once you are in check, you are bound to get your king out of check and then only make any other move.
  • You can’t castle if doing that puts your king into check. To know more read can you get out of check by castling.
  • When you are not in check but you don’t have any legal moves to make, then the game is drawn and this condition is known as a stalemate. Read this article by me, on what is a stalemate and the difference between stalemate and checkmate.

Now you may ask, can you accidentally put yourself in check?

Yes, it may happen that you accidentally put yourself in check especially if you are a beginner. But the important point is to know what happens if you do that. So let’s discuss.

What happens if you accidentally put yourself in check?

It is considered an illegal move and you have to make any other legal move. In professional games, after making two illegal moves you lose the game but if your opponent has insufficient mating material, then the game is drawn.

Read Related: What Is An Illegal Move In Chess? (Explained With Examples)

In simple words, after making two illegal moves if your opponent doesn’t have enough pieces to checkmate your king by any series of legal moves (which means your opponent has insufficient mating material), then the game is drawn.

Mate is the abbreviated form of checkmate. Note that sufficient mating material is just the opposite of insufficient mating material which means having enough pieces to checkmate the king.

Here’s a table that will help you to decide what happens if accidentally put yourself in check:

CaseYouYouYour opponentResult
1.Accidentally
put your
king into check
Made
no illegal moves
up till now
Has sufficient/
insufficient
mating material
2 minutes
(1 minutes
in case of Blitz)
extra time
to your opponent
2.Accidentally
put your
king into check
Already
made
one illegal move
Has sufficient
mating material
You Lose
3.Accidentally
put your
king into check
Already
made
one illegal move
Has insufficient
mating material
Draw

(If you are viewing this table on mobile then kindly scroll from right to left on the table to view it completely)

Now let’s see the explanation of each of these case.

Case-1 Explanation: When you have made no illegal moves

So in this case, when you accidentally put yourself in check then it is considered an illegal but only for the first time.

As per the standard rules of FIDE (World Chess Federation) after 1st illegal move your opponent is given 2 minutes extra time (1 minutes in case of Blitz games) as a penalty.

Whether your opponent has sufficient or insufficient mating material it doesn’t matter.

Case-2 Explanation: When you have already made one illegal move and opponent has sufficient mating material

So in this case, when you accidentally put yourself in check then it is considered an illegal move for the second time.

This time as a penalty you are suppose to lose the game since the opponent has sufficient mating material.

Also Read: Can A Pawn Put A King In Check?

Case-3 Explanation: When you have already made one illegal move and opponent has insufficient mating material

To explain this case, here’s an example to show what exactly happens when you accidentally put yourself in check:

can-you-put-yourself-in-check-here's-what-happens

It is white’s turn to move. Let’s suppose you are white while your opponent is black.

Now, here your opponent, black has only the king and one knight so this is considered as insufficient mating material which means by any series of legal moves, black cannot checkmate your white king with these two pieces.

See Related: Do You Have To Check Before Checkmate? (Explained)

Insufficient mating material also occurs in combinations like king vs king, king, and one bishop vs king. Now let’s discuss the example.

In this case, if you accidentally move the white king to the square shown in the image (g2 square) then it means you are accidentally putting your king into check and thus making an illegal move.

And as per the standard rules, after the two illegal moves you lose, right? However, here your opponent has insufficient mating material hence the game ends in a draw.

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

Quick Summary & Key Takeaways:

  • ‘Check’ means your king is in attack but you still have a chance to protect it.
  • While a ‘Checkmate’ means your king is in attack but you don’t have any chance to protect it.
  • As per the standard rules, you are not allowed to move your king into check.
  • Moreover, you can’t make any other move when you are in check other than protecting the king first.
  • If you accidentally put yourself in check it is considered an illegal move and in professional games penalty is levied on you accordingly (refer to the table that I discussed with you).

Also Read: Can A King Kill In Check? (Explained)

Conclusion

So that’s it! If you found this article helpful then consider sharing this with others.

Thanks! 🙂 And if are you interested to know about the best chess equipment, books, and other chess-related stuff then please don’t forget to check out My Chess Recommendations Page.

Related Questions:

What does it mean to put yourself in check?

In chess, when you are in check that means your king is in threat you can’t make any other move unless you take your king out of the threat.

What happens if a player puts himself in check?

It is considered an illegal move and the player has to make any other legal move. In professional games after making two illegal moves, a player loses the game. But if the player’s opponent has insufficient mating material then the game is drawn.

Can you put someone in check while in check?

No, while you are in check, you can’t make any move other than taking your king out of check. However, you can take your king out of check, in such a way that delivers the opponent’s king in check simultaneously.

Can you accidentally put yourself in checkmate?

No, you are not allowed to put yourself in checkmate because it illegal to put your own king in check. However, you can make a move that allows your opponent to checkmate you.

What happens if you accidentally put yourself in checkmate?

If you put yourself in checkmate then it is considered an illegal move. As per the standard rules after the first illegal move, your opponent is allotted 2 minutes extra time (1minutes in Blitz). But after the second illegal move if the opponent has sufficient mating material then you lose the game.

What happens if you move your king into check?

If you move your king into check then it will be considered an illegal move since as per the standard rules it is not allowed to put your king in check. After two illegal moves, you lose the game provided your opponent has sufficient mating material.

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