The King

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The King is the most important piece on the chessboard. It can never be captured and if it is in danger then it must be made safe immediately. If it is not possible to make the King safe then the game is lost. The King may move one square in any direction. In the diagram the King is able to move to one of the highlighted squares.

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However, the King must never move on to a square that is being attacked by her opponents pieces. In the diagram the King cannot move onto the squares marked with a cross because the Black Bishop is attacking those squares.

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If a piece is on a square that the King can move to then the King may capture that piece. In the diagram the King may capture the Rook

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This position below is almost the same as in the diagram above. However, there is one very important difference. The Bishop is now protecting the Rook so that if the King captured the Rook the King would be attacked by the Bishop, we say the King would be in check, and Black would be able to capture the King on the next move. The King can never move himself into danger like this so he is unable to capture the Rook.

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Consequently, because the King must never move on to a square that is being attacked by enemy pieces, two Kings can never stand next to each other on the chessboard. The position in this diagram is illegal.

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Now you know how all of the chessmen move you can play chess with all of the pieces. Remember that the player with the White pieces always goes first. To decide who should play with the White pieces, one of the players hides a Black pawn in one hand and a white pawn in the other and holds out her fists in front of her. Her opponent chooses a hand and if the white pawn is in that hand then the opponent plays White. If it is a black pawn the opponent plays with the Black pieces. After the first game the players switch colours.