Beginner chess questions about the King: Royal piece

The King is the most valuable piece in chess that it has some unique rules that are not available for other pieces. I had a lot of questions about this piece like that with castling (since it is also a special rule) so I have wondered a lot and eventually picked up the answer with experience.

However, I can now give all the answers so you don’t have to go around in circles for a while which should make it pretty convenient, being aware after all is important. You can speed up your development since you wouldn’t be distracted by non-essential concerns such as the questions I’m going to present here. 

You’re going to be able to focus on what’s important and be the best you can be in the shortest time possible. It can start with me answering simple questions so I’ll do it.

Is the King allowed to capture in chess?

The King is allowed to capture a piece or pawn in chess as long as it falls within its capture range, namely one tile in any of its direction horizontally, vertically, and diagonally with the exception being that the said pawn/piece is protected by another pawn/piece.

I think this is a basic question but is a reasonable one if you are just starting, we after all, rarely see the king capturing anything during professional games. The King can indeed capture as long the piece in question is within the King’s capture range, with no exception whatever piece/pawn it is.

The King is able to capture pieces ranging from the rook, the queen, and of course the pawn without any special restriction of how valuable those pieces may be. The queen for example just because it is the most powerful piece does not mean that is protected from being captured by the king.

This also applies with any other piece (since they can all capture the Queen) and there’s really not any reason why the King can’t capture. As long as it is not protected (capturing it by then puts the King in danger) which makes it an illegal move.

Can a King take a piece that puts it in check?

The King is able to capture any piece that puts it in the check as long as it is not protected by another piece and it is within the King’s capture range (any of the one tiles around the king horizontally, vertically, and diagonally).

The only reason that it is unable to capture if the piece is protected is that a player cannot afford to lose the king, it is the most important piece.

If the king is able to capture a piece that is protected it will undoubtedly mean that the King will be captured the very next turn, a player will lose theoretically the moment the king is captured.

It was made illegal so that players would not intentionally allow their own king to be captured which will result in a loss anyway, in a way it is to protect the players. A check is basically any attack that would require the player to block the attack, capture the attacking piece, or move the attacked king, it is sort of a warning.

Just being able to deliver a check does not mean that the attacking piece would be protected from any capture in some way, that goes for any of the pieces in that matter.

 A checking piece can be captured by the queen, bishop, pawn, rook, knight, and of course, the king since all the pieces in chess can capture one another.

Can the King capture a knight in chess?

This is a weird question that I’ve found people have been asking on google lately, it is pretty simple but I think it’s still worth giving the answer.

The king is able to capture a knight as the same as any other piece in chess except the king (king can’t capture king), the king will only be unable to capture the knight if it is protected by another piece.

I really have no idea why people are asking this but the knight doesn’t have any special protection that incapacitates the king from capturing it, it is not special. 

Of course the king wouldn’t be able to capture the knight if it is not within its capture range (one tile in any direction horizontally, vertically, or diagonally), however, if it is not the case then it can be captured.

The knight moves in a funky way so it may be hard to capture the knight using only the king but it can happen in a lot of endgames.

Can the King capture diagonally in chess?

A king can capture one square in any direction horizontally, vertically, or diagonally unless the piece that is about to be captured is protected by another piece (which makes the capture an illegal move).

Other pieces that can capture in chess are of course the queen and the bishop but in a longer range, the king can also capture diagonally but only at one tile. 

Capturing a piece that is protected by another piece diagonally is of course an illegal move as has been stated above, the king will be captured for sure if it were to capture a protected piece.

The king can also move diagonally unless another piece is already in that particular square or it is covered by another piece (the king couldn’t move into a check).

Can any piece capture the king in chess?

Every piece in chess including the pawns, rooks, knights, bishops, and the queen is able to capture the king in chess or more accurately, put it into a check or checkmate. The only piece that cannot capture the king is another king since it is illegal to put both kings into a check.

There aren’t any restrictions for which pieces are able to capture the king except if it’s another king since they would put each other in check which is illegal. After all, if only selected pieces are capable of capturing the king it is very difficult to achieve a check/checkmate.

Elite games are already plagued with excessive amounts of draws, and having only a little amount of pieces capable of winning a game with a checkmate would not help. 

A lot of endgames are made up of unpredictable combinations of pieces that can respectively win if played correctly, if there are only a few pieces that can capture the king it would further narrow down the list.

It is pretty unfair when a player attempts to put up an attack and take a lot of risk by sacrificing pieces, only to not be able to capture that king in the end, it would make chess boring. 

By having every piece capable of capturing the king it gives more opportunities for beautiful combinations that could lead to a checkmate, otherwise I don’t think that even the mechanic of checkmate is feasible.

Is King vs. King in chess a draw?

A game is considered a draw when both players only have kings left on the board without any other pieces since a checkmate cannot be achieved, a king is unable to capture another king since it cannot move into check where it will be captured. 

If an endgame only contains both players’ kings then there aren’t sufficient pieces to deliver checkmate, therefore the game should end in a draw. A king can never step into the capture range of another king since it would be captured as well, it is actually an illegal move.

If theoretically the game is played out with only two kings left in the game it would just be meaningless back and forth, since there aren’t any available winning conditions for both players. It would be meaningless to play this endgame and the result should be equal (draw) where no player would come on top of another.

It will be different if there are some pieces present even if just a pawn, especially if a checkmate is possible. 

There are some combinations that could not potentially deliver a checkmate even though there are many pieces on the board, those will be drawn as well since a checkmate cannot be achieved.

Can the King capture even without a check?

If any beginners are watching games played by decent players then they may notice that the king rarely moves unless it is with check, which is why they may ask this question.

The king is able to capture one tile in any direction horizontally, vertically, and diagonally even without a check. They can also capture without a check unless the targeted piece is protected by another piece.

There aren’t any prerequisites that have to be fulfilled (such as a check) for the king to be able to capture, in fact, it can do that even at the early stages of the game. 

Most of the time the king wouldn’t be able to capture anything (at the early stages) since it is tucked behind the ranks in order to keep it safe, but it definitely is allowed.

If you watch any endgames the king is a vital piece to be activated in order to stop the marching of the pawns (for the most part) it cannot do that if it needs to check before it can capture. 

Of course the other way around is true, that the king is able to capture a piece even if that piece delivers a check (as long as it is not protected).

Can a King capture a Queen in chess?

The king can legally capture a queen in chess as long as the queen is not protected by another piece. Normally the king wouldn’t be able to approach the queen since it would be a check, but the queen can approach the king’s capture tiles so it is possible then.

The queen just like any other piece doesn’t have any protection from being captured by the king, especially if the queen is the one who has come to the king’s capture range. The king of course wouldn’t be able to capture the queen by itself since the queen has natural capture range in every direction (meaning the king couldn’t approach without a check).

However there are instances where a player can blunder their queen near the king’s capture range without any support, if it is on that occasion then the king is able to capture.

This is not the case if the queen is protected by another piece (since it is likely to be a checkmate) where the king has to respond by moving or having another piece capture the queen.

Usually when the queen has come forth to the king’s capture range, there is no other move than to capture the queen (if it’s not protected). The queen has such a huge movement range that it can likely corner the king and even force it to be captured for some sacrificial positional reason.

Can a pawn capture a king in chess?

A pawn is able to deliver a check to the king, or even a checkmate if it is supported but another pawn/piece. The pawn can never truly capture the king since it would be checkmate and the game would end.

There is no restriction to which piece/pawn is able to deliver a check (threatening the king to being captured) in chess, every one of them can do that. 

The pawn in itself will of course never deliver checkmate on its own (since the pawn will be captured by the king on the next turn) but it can definitely do so as long as it is supported.

Technically no piece or pawn is able to truly capture the king just like with any other piece since the king can never be taken (it can only be checkmated). But I think this is not the question that beginners ask when they wonder about this.

I think they wonder if the pawn is really able to deliver a check (or could it potentially capture) since it is the lowest ranking unit compared to the king (highest ranking) and they are wondering if there are any restrictions.

Well I am here to tell you that there are no such restrictions, every piece and even the pawn can potentially capture the king if given the opportunity to do so.

Do you win in chess if you kill the King?

The objective in the game of chess is to deliver an unstoppable capture to the opposing king (through a checkmate) while keeping your own king safe. The game is won when the king will be undoubtedly captured the next turn through a checkmate.

Technically again, the king can never be captured since the game will end if checkmate is achieved. But you get the point, that is what beginners ask when they are talking about the objectives of chess (whether the king is the main target).

If you have watched any professional games you can see that a checkmate rarely occurred, but that’s only because professionals don’t even let the position get to that point. 

If you look closely at these professional games most losses really just come to resignation (basically surrendering) not really because there are more conditions to win in chess.

The main reason that a resignation transpires is insufficient material that will allow players to continue playing (therefore forecasting that they will be checkmated in the end). But if we forced these players to play it out then the game will never end unless a checkmate is achieved.

When one of the kings got put in the condition of unstoppable capture (checkmate) then the side that was able to accomplish that is the winner.

What happens if the King reaches the other side in chess?

When a king reaches the other side of the board nothing will happen unlike when a pawn reaches the other side (promotion). The pawn promotion rule does not apply to the king and will not promote the king into anything.

I had a cringed look on my face when I first read this question, but I understand that some beginners might ask this. If you notice the trend, the pawn is the only unit in chess that is not able to capture back, nor move back from its original place.

This means that if it reaches the other side of the board unlike with other pieces, it wouldn’t amount to anything useful since it would just be stuck there. This is unlike a piece where it can go back to the key squares in order to make the position much more valuable, the pawn can’t do that.

That’s why a mechanism should be in place that would allow the pawn to not only go back when it reaches the other side of the board but also to make it more useful (therefore the existence of pawn promotion).

This is unlike the king when it goes to the other side, where it can just re-maneuver itself into important squares without any issue. Plus the king is the most valuable piece in chess (meaning that it is indispensable) that it couldn’t be converted into another piece (since a checkmate could never occur without a king).

Can the king move two spaces on his first move in chess?

The king is not allowed to move two spaces on its first move unless it is for a castling (unmoved king and rook moving past each other). The king can only move one tile horizontally, vertically, and diagonally with the exception of the castling move.

Some beginners might ask this since they have seen the king move two spaces on the first move through castling (whether the king can naturally move two spaces even when not castling). 

Fundamentally the king can only move one tile at a time horizontally, vertically, and diagonally which will remain unchanged for the duration of the game. The castling move is the only exception since it is a special rule that really doesn’t have anything to do with the movement of either the rook or the king.

Castling is legal (which may appear to be moving two spaces) but on its own, the king should only be able to move one tile at a time. It doesn’t matter if it is not the first move or the first move, the king can only really move one tile otherwise it will be illegal concerning the laws of chess.

Can the King move in front of a pawn in chess?

It is legal for a king to move at a tile in front of a pawn as long as the said square is not already covered by an opponent’s piece, or there is already another piece (friendly or not) blocking the king’s way.

At the start of the game, the King is naturally behind a group of pawns that prevents it from going anywhere forward (though it keeps the king safe). If your question is can the king jump in front of the pawn (similar to how a knight would) then the answer would be no, the king cannot do that.

The knight is the only piece in chess that is able to jump forward despite being blocked by any other piece, the king of course is incapable of that. However if we are talking about whether the king is allowed to move in front of a pawn when there are no pieces blocking then the answer is yes, the king is able to do that.

There is no conditional restriction that the king would have to fulfill first in order to be able to move in front of a pawn, it can do that as long as there’s nothing blocking the way.

Unless of course it is attacked by another piece which is a totally different question (the king cannot move into a check) and therefore in that instance yes, the king cannot move in front of a pawn.

Can you win in chess with just a King?

A player cannot possibly win at chess with just a king, the best-case scenario with a bare king left is a draw via an opponent running out of time, the 50 move rule, a stalemate, or a king vs. king drawn endgame.

The game can only be possibly won through a checkmate (putting the enemy king in an unstoppable capture) or resignation from the opponent. Both cannot be achieved with only a bare king since there is insufficient material for a checkmate and no one resigns against a bare king only. 

There’s only so much that the king can achieve alone, of course, a checkmate is out of the question. Even if the opponent runs out of time it should only be considered a draw as explained by my other article (will open in a new tab) so that is also out of the question.

Other ways a draw can be achieved is of course if it is a stalemate, the 50 move rule transpires, or if it is a king vs king endgame. The outcome can only really be a draw or a loss (a loss is more likely) when the king is all there is left on the board unless there are other pieces of course.

Final thoughts

There aren’t any other units in chess that are as important as the king, players will of course win or lose depending on the king so it is important to be aware of its features. This article contains the basic questions and that normally no one bothers to answer on the internet, well at least not until today.

I don’t have any problem with taking on questions like this since I have been a beginner myself and know the feeling. The feeling of having some lingering confusion in your head with no one to talk to, especially if the questions are so specific.

I have answered some specific questions (though not all of them) which should help, at least I hope so, sleep well and play chess.