The King Can Attack in Chess: Strategy and Tactics for Winning

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The king is the most valuable piece on the board. Trapped, you lose but it can be used to attack other pieces, defend against an opponent’s attack or even used as a decoy to lure your opponent into making a mistake. The king cannot capture another king but can help you win by drawing your opponent’s attention away from more important areas of the battlefield.

In a game of chess, the King can form part of the overall attacking strategy and is able to capture as long as the move is legal. When utilized correctly the king can be a valuable part of your chess tactics although a king can not take another king in chess and should be protected at all costs. Use

When considering whether or not to attack with your king, it is important to remember that the King is the most valuable piece, undefended and checkmate and you lose the game.

Attacking With A King in Chess

This article is going to explain a bit more about using your King in attack if you have to, which chess pieces it can attack and what to do, but before getting into it, I just want to clear up a question that comes up time and time again

Can a King Capture a King?

No piece can capture a king including another king. This is because in chess the aim is to trap the enemy king and not capture it. Once trapped the game is over and no capture is required.

It would be unlikely, but should you get your opponent in king in check situation and they do not notice and play another move, you are not able to move your piece and capture and remove their King.

They would have already made an illegal move by not removing the king from the check, or blocking the check, and thus the game would have been lost.

By the way, you do not have to say ‘check’ in chess. In fact, it is rather frowned upon the higher up the ability and tournaments you get.

So it is impossible to capture an enemy king with legal moves anyway according to chess rules and doing so and removing the King from the chess board would also be deemed an illegal move and forfeit the game.

The King cannot attack an enemy Queen or King directly.

Because both the King and Queen control all 8 diagonally, horizontally and vertically adjacent squares to the one which they sit, a King can not attack one of these pieces because its own limitation of a single square moves means it would have to place itself in a check position to do so which is an illegal move.

Don’t worry though, there are plenty of other pieces the King can attack from a safe square in chess and they include the enemy pawn, bishop, knight and rooks.

Getting to an adjacent square against any of these enemies, working on the square that CANNOT pass through or move to is possible. And should those pieces and squares be undefended, it is perfectly possible for the ling to capture these pieces.

As for the reasons explained above a King can not capture another opponent King, but it is possible for a king to capture a queen.

A King can Capture a Queen but not Attack One

That statement sounds a little strange when you first hear it, but of course, whilst a ling can not attack a queen by moving to within one square so as to create the threat of capture, should the opponent place the queens on an adjacent square to the king, so long as that square is not defended by another enemy piece, the capture of the queen is available.

Be cautious if this opportunity does arise, however. One might be keen to capture that Queen rather than move away and out of check, but if the opponent if offering up a free queen sacrifice to King capture, you can be pretty sure there is some other tactic afoot and an imminent serious attack situation may be on the cards.

Situations to Use the King as an Attacking Piece

The king is rarely involved in the planning of an offensive or defensive formation in chess. A player will typically try to castle and hide behind friendly pawns on the board’s edge. The king, on the other hand, comes into prominence in the endgame as an attacking piece as well as assisting in the advancement of their remaining pawns.

Making a direct attack using the King in Chess is pretty tricky. The reason for this is that whilst it can move to any adjacent square, vertically, horizontally or diagonally, it can only move one square at a time, so the threat is very obvious to the opponent who has time to defend or avert the threat.

So on that basis, using a king to attack in chess is more about using the piece as part of the attack strategy than being the attack itself and most frequently only as part of the end game.

Making a King Attack in the End Game

For instance, the easiest example to suggest, which would happen at low-level games only, is forcing checkmate when you have a king and a pawn against a lone king.

In normal circumstances at a certain level, the player with the lone king may have resigned much earlier, but if there is a degree of confidence that the player with more material might be unable to find the mating patter or route for pawn promotion, the lone king player may continue.

So here we have a couple of scenarios where the king, in its most basic form, can be an attacker.

The pawn on it’s own is not able to checkmate the enemy King, as a pawn. It could of course promote, that helps, but if the pawn is unable to pass the king to do so, it will need the assistance of its king to either corner the enemy King or get to a position of pawn promotion.

this video from Levy Rozman is a superb example of how the king becomes the most important part of the attack in a king and pawn vs King endgame

Using the Castling Move as a King Attack

So, this variation is somewhat ambiguous, but actually, this is quite a cunning way to use the Kings’ abilities to make an attacking move.

You should by now know how to castle in chess and understand that it is a process of both protection for the king and development of a rook either kingside or queenside.

But in some situations making that castle move can be an effective and in rare cases a devastating attacking move.

Castling King Attack with Check

If you have an open file king or queenside for castling with the enemy king in scope then it is possible to use the king to gain a check situation by making the castle move. It is a superb move and can be a spectacular surprise to an opponent.

Of course, for the very few, it is also possible to checkmate with castling.

Castling King Attack with Checkmate

It is possible to use the King to make a checkmate by castling. This is quite spectacular when achieved. personally, I have never been able to do it, but there are plenty of examples in chess history when it has happened.

This is a more modern event when Eric Rosen managed to checkmate with a kingside castle during a live stream.

It is such a devestating outcome and very hard to spot from your opponents perspective. I hope one day to be able to do this


I hope you have enjoyed this article and learned a little more about how the king can be used as an effective attcking piece in the game of chess. From end game strategy using the king in attack, to those devestating castling attcks with a king, you also now know which pieces the king can attack and which it cant.

If you have further questions you would like me to consider answering in more depth, then send me a tweet on my chessquestions twitter feed

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