How to Play Chess – Rules of Check

Before we finish our review of the rules of chess, we have to look at the concept of check.

What is check?

Check is any attack against a King. If a piece or pawn could capture the King on the next move, then the King is “in check.” The rules require that the King get out of check immediately. The rules also prohibit the King from moving into check or making any move that exposes him to check.

The rules of castling also prohibit the King from castling into check or through check (i.e., moving the King during the castling move across a square that is attacked by an enemy piece). The rules of castling also prohibit the King from castling out of check.

So in general, the King is in check whenever he could be captured by an enemy pawn or piece. A check must be dealt with immediately, and the King may never move into check.

How do I get out of check?

There are only three ways to get out of check:

  1. Move the King to a square that is not attacked by an enemy piece;
  2. Interpose a piece between the checking piece and the King (this doesn’t work against a check from a Pawn or Knight);
  3. Capture the checking piece.

Special checks

There are two types of check that are especially dangerous. One is the discovered check. A discovered check occurs when an enemy piece that was blocking a check against the enemy King moves out of the way, thus revealing or discovering the check. I show an example of this on the video. This is dangerous because the piece that discovers the check is often free to pick off material that would normally be off limits.

The other especially dangerous check is double check. Double check occurs when two pieces give check to the King at the same time. When this occurs, there is only one way out of the check … the King must move. That can be extremely dangerous to the enemy King’s health … or to yours if your opponent can deliver double check to your King.

Next time we’ll look at checkmate … and then start a series of articles on how to checkmate.

If you’re interested in getting ahead of your competitors on learning how to checkmate, be sure to get the wonderful book Learn Chess: A Complete Course.

2 thoughts on “How to Play Chess – Rules of Check

  1. Could possibly a piece that is “pinned” to it’s king (can’t move without exposing its own king to check) deliver check to the opponent king, considering that this “pinned” piece couldn’t legally move to capture the checked king?!

    Congratulations for your site. It’s very useful and friendly for a novice!

    • Great question! Yes, a pinned piece can still deliver check to the enemy king. But your question deserves a more thorough response … I’ll try to do a blog post and video on this question next week. Thanks Goethe!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *