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How to play chess: Check and Checkmate

We looked at check briefly in the last part, when we looked at the king. Now it's time to look at this important concept in more detail. Incidentally, some people announce 'Check' when they put their opponent's king in check, but you really don't have to. It's not commonly done in tournament play, and some people may even find it a bit annoying.

Check

As we learned previously, the king cannot move onto a square threatened by an enemy piece or pawn, as that would be moving into check. But what if your opponent moves a piece or pawn to threaten your king directly? In that case, the king is in check, and you must get him out of check immediately.

On the board below, white's king is in check from black's rook. White must get his king out of check, or else black could capture it next turn, which is something that must never be allowed to happen. Try it yourself, and move the white king out of check.

Incorrect Move Sorry, that's the wrong answer. Click 'continue' to try again.
Nice Try Your move was good, but there is a better one.
Solved! Well done, that's the correct answer!

Sometimes, your king has no safe squares it can escape to. All is not lost, however, as there are other ways of getting out of check. You can also capture the piece that is giving check, either with your king or with another piece. Remember, though, if you're capturing with your king you need to make sure that by doing so you aren't putting your king in check from another piece!

On the board below, the white king is once again in check from a black rook, but this time he has no squares to escape to. Capture the black rook to get the white king out of check.

Incorrect Move Sorry, that's the wrong answer. Click 'continue' to try again.
Nice Try Your move was good, but there is a better one.
Solved! Well done, that's the correct answer!

There is a third way to get out of check, if your king has no escape squares and you cannot capture the piece giving check. You can move one of your own pieces to block the path of the enemy piece, and get out of check that way. Watch out for knights though, as their jumping ability means they cannot be blocked this way, so if your king is in check from a knight then this method won't work.

On the board below, black's king is in check from the white queen. Can you find a way to block the queen's path to get out of check?

Incorrect Move Sorry, that's the wrong answer. Click 'continue' to try again.
Nice Try Your move was good, but there is a better one.
Solved! Well done, that's the correct answer!

Double Check

It may seem unlikely, but it's actually possible for a king to be in check from two different pieces at once. This happens when a player moves a piece to give check, and also opens up a line from a different piece to give check from that piece also. Use the arrows on the board below to see how double check works.

By moving, the bishop has opened a line from the rook to the king, so the king is in check from both pieces at once! Double check can be a powerful attack, because it isn't possible to block both checks with one move. The only way to escape from a double check is to move the king.

Checkmate

So what happens if a king is in check, and cannot use any of the above described methods to escape from check? In that case, he is in checkmate, and the game ends. In the example below, the black king is in check from the white bishop, and has no way to escape. Black is in checkmate, and white has won the game!

Now try it yourself on the boards below. On each board, find a move for white that puts the black king in checkmate.

Incorrect Move Sorry, that's the wrong answer. Click 'continue' to try again.
Nice Try Your move was good, but there is a better one.
Solved! Well done, that's the correct answer!
Incorrect Move Sorry, that's the wrong answer. Click 'continue' to try again.
Nice Try Your move was good, but there is a better one.
Solved! Well done, that's the correct answer!
Incorrect Move Sorry, that's the wrong answer. Click 'continue' to try again.
Nice Try Your move was good, but there is a better one.
Solved! Well done, that's the correct answer!

There are many different ways to give checkmate in chess, and we will look at more of them in later tutorials.

Suggested Books

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