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Check, Checkmate and Stalemate

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Check
Check, Checkmate and Stalemate
All diagrams © Ed Scimia
A player’s king is said to be “in check” when it is attacked by an opponent’s piece. In the diagram above, white’s king is in check because the black rook on a1 is attacking it. Usually, novice players are expected to announce check when it happens in order to be sure their opponent notices the situation. Among more experienced players, many consider it rude to announce a check, as these players expect to notice the check themselves. It is never legal to move your king into check; if you notice an opponent has done so, you should point this out and allow them to make a safe move instead.

If your king is in check, you must find a way to prevent the king from being captured. There are three ways to accomplish this.

Move the King

The first method is moving the king to safety. If the king can be moved to a square where it is not attacked, it no longer needs to fear being captured. In the diagram above, the white king can safely move to d2, e2, or f2, as the black rook only attacks the squares on the first rank.

Block the Check

The second method is blocking the check. This is also known as interposition. In the above diagram, white’s queen can be moved to c1, where it would block the check from black’s rook. Blocking is not an option when the attacking piece is a knight, as the knight can leap over any interposing piece.

Capture the Attacker

The final method is capturing the attacking piece. In the diagram above, white’s queen can capture the black rook on a1. With the rook off the board, the white king is once again safe.

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