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Marc Cressac; Chess Fact-Checked by Marc Cressac | Updated 2023-01-15
Founder ofΒ Chessily.com

Can a King Take a Queen in Chess?

King and queen are pretty much exact opposites in chess. The king being the slowest; the queen the most capable attacking piece. For that reason, beginners often are unsure, whether the king can even take (or capture) the queen in chess. So, in this article, we’ll answer that exact question and explain the basic concepts around attacking with the king. Let’s dive in!

Can a King Take Other Pieces in Chess?

First, we need to answer the question of whether the king can even capture other pieces in chess. And the answer to that is: Yes! The king – just like all other pieces – can attack and capture other pieces in the royal game.

First, let’s recap the king’s movement. The king can move to any square that is in his direct vicinity. Meaning, he can advance exactly one square in every vertical, horizontal or diagonal direction.

As with other chess piece (except the pawn), the king attacks the same way it moves. Every pieces that stands directly next to the king is being attacked by him:

can the king capture other pieces in chess
The King Can Attack and Capture Other Pieces in Chess

In this example, the king attacks the bishop, knight, and rook at the same time. He needs to choose which of the three pieces he wants to capture. Conventional knowledge would tell us that the king should capture the rook, as it is the most valuable piece of the three.

However, in contract to all other pieces, the king is not allowed to capture another piece, if that piece is defended. By doing so, he would be placing himself into a check, which is not allowed by the rules of chess.

Yes, The King Can Capture The Queen (With Some Limits)

So, we’ve learned that the king is fully capable of capturing other pieces. Thus, it should come as no surprise, that the king is also theoretically allowed to capture the queen in chess.

However, due to the special movement capabilities of the queen, there are some implications you need to remember when trying to capture a queen with your king. Because the queen attacks all squares in her direct vicinity, it is never possible for the king to attack the queen by moving towards her. Essentially, the queen has a forcefield around her, that the king cannot enter under any circumstances.

But, if the king cannot attack the queen, how is he supposed to capture the enemy queen? Well, that requires a big mistake (or blunder, as we call it in chess) by your opponent. Have a look at this scenario:

can the king capture the queen in chess
Yes, The King Can Capture The Queen in Chess (But With Some Limits!)

Black moves his queen from b2 to d4, in turn attacking the king on e4. However, the black queen is completely undefended, making this threat basically useless. The king can now simply capture the queen by moving to d4.

This would be a very simplified example of a king being able to capture a queen. But remember; the king cannot “sneak up” on the queen to attack her, because he would be moving himself into check to do so.

Capturing A Queen With A King: Wrapping Up

So, we’ve learned that the king is allowed to capture other pieces, including your enemy’s queen! So we’ve found the answer to our question: Yes, a king can capture a queen in chess!

But while the king can attack and capture other pieces like pawns, bishops, rooks, and knights, he can’t directly attack the queen. So, capturing the enemy queen requires a big mistake by your opponent, who needs to move his undefended queen right next to your king, allowing the capture.

Read More About The King in Chess

Read More About The Queen in Chess

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