Chess Lessons by Lee Duigon: Lesson Twelve

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Chess lesson: the King; check and checkmate.

You probably know this stuff already, but I might as well be thorough. I’m sure you know that the loss of the King is the loss of the game.

“Check” is when your opponent makes a move that puts your King in danger of being captured on the next move. You are obliged to get your King out of check, either by moving it, putting another piece or pawn in the way of the attacker, or capturing the attacker. Note: It’s against the rules to castle out of check, or to castle “through a check”–that is, moving the King through a square subject to enemy attack. Any move that fails to get the King out of check is not allowed.

“Checkmate” is when the King is in check and can’t get out of it by any means. The game is then over.

What many beginners don’t realize is that late in the game, with most of both chess armies off the board, the King comes into his own as an attacking piece. The King moves one square in any direction, as long as he doesn’t move into check. Often the King gets the job of shepherding a Pawn to the opposite end of the board.

Castling is usually the best way to keep your King safe, so try to do it early in the game.

**Beware the back rank mate! If the King is all alone on the back row with Pawns in front of him, an enemy Rook or Queen can slide down and mate him.

**Beware the skewer, also known as the X-ray: in which you have a valuable piece adjacent to the King, and an enemy makes a move that would be check if your intervening piece weren’t there, Example: your King is on e1, your Queen on f2, and along comes an enemy Bishop to h4, attacking the Queen–which can’t move away, because that would put the King in check. And let’s say the attacking Bishop is protected by an enemy Rook on h8. The best you can do is to take the Bishop with the Queen, whereupon the Rook takes your Queen and you come out way behind. So be careful where you put your Rooks and Queen in relation to your King.
enough for now. Questions?

– Lee Duigon (January 18th, 2019)

Lee Duigon is the author of the Bell Mountain series, a great series of books that I recommend for young adults (and all people)!

Stay tuned for Lesson Thirteen!

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