Lesson 2 - How The Chess Pieces Move: The King
"The king, which during the opening and middlegame stage is often a burden because it has to be defended, becomes in the endgame a very important and aggressive piece, and the beginner should realize this, and utilize its king as much as possible."
- Jose Raul Capablanca
If you did not go through the page explaining the general rules for moving pieces, I recommend that you do so before continuing.
Moving The King
Ah... here we are: let's talk about the monarch! The king is the most important piece in chess. We will see later in the lesson on the basic rules that the game is over when the King cannot protect himself from a capture. It is then of the upmost importance to give him great carefulness if we do not want to loose the game.
The King is moving like the Queen, with the difference that it can reach only one square at a time. Therefore, it can move on any square around him (provided that the square is not occupied by one of its own piece or that the square is not controlled by an enemy piece... we will see all the conditions in details in the lesson about the goal of the game). White and Black kings can never be face to face in a game of chess: at least one square must separate them. It is logical since if a King advances on any square adjacent the other King, the opponent will have the first opportunity to do the capture... so it does not make sense to allow such a move in the first place.
Diagram 2.14 - Moving the King
The King cannot jump over other pieces. Also, since it is so vulnerable to attacks, it will not be used at the beginning of the game. Wise players are using their king only in the endgame when several pieces are removed from the battlefield.
As it is the case for the Queen, the King deploys its best action when occupying the center of the board. We can see in the diagram below that it controls 8 squares in the center, 5 squares on the edge and 3 squares in a corner (controlled squares are colored in blue).
Diagram 2.15 - Controlled squares by a King from different locations
Capturing With The King
The King can capture enemy pieces occupying a square directly around him. However, as we will see in lesson 4 about the basic rules of chess, it cannot capture an enemy piece when it is protected as one of the rules sates that a player cannot allow his King to be captured.
Let's conclude this lesson with an analysis on the different characteristics defining each pieces on the next page.