Chess Basics: Protecting Your King

Being such a central tenet of the game, strategies for protecting one’s King are too often skipped over by novice players. In our belief, chess basics start with King protection. Let us introduce you to a few key strategies that will keep your King in a safe position for as long as possible.


Protect Your King with Pawns

Pawns play a huge role in King protection. They block attacking lanes, giving your king a safe bunker to stay protected. Keep in mind that the pawns in front of your King are a very valuable line of defence, and your opponent will be looking to break through them. Combined with the fact that pawns cannot move backward means that every move you make with your defensive pawns is crucial. If you choose to push one of these pawns forward, it should be for a vital reason. If you don’t have one, stick to the chess basics and hunker down.


Avoid the Centre

Controlling the centre is a basic chess mantra for good reason, but don’t get carried away with it! Unless you’re in the endgame, your King should avoid the centre of the board at all costs. Although you may be tempted by the increased mobility available in the centre of the board, you have to remember that the King is not a very mobile piece at all, it doesn’t lose out on nearly as much being crammed in the corner of the board. And it gains much, much more.

Being central, your King gains marginal manoeuvrability, but opens itself up to many lanes of attack. If you find yourself in this position, it’s a great opportunity to analyze. Think about why your king had to be moved to the centre, and how it changed the game. How many turns are you spending actively defending? Are you having a difficult time keeping track of all the threats?


Castle Early

We’ve established the importance of defensive pawns, but which pawns should we assign this important role to? Well, that decision is made for us when we consider the importance of castling. Castling is an important part of chess basics. It’s the act of swapping the positions of the rook and the King, nestling the King towards the edge of the board.


Once castled, your King is in quite a safe position. Being near the corner of the board blocks a lot of potential attacking lanes by default. In this position, you also should have three important defensive pawns lined up in front of your King. This puts you in a great position to defend your King from attack. This is an excellent basic chess strategy that everyone should remember.


If you need some additional advice, or some friendly guidance on another chess topic, let us know! Our private or group lessons are a lot of fun, and very informative, especially for new chess players. We hope to see you at our next lesson.