Why Is The King So Weak In Chess?

Chess Guides / By Andrew Hercules
why is the king so weak in chess

The number of points given to a king is infinite because it is the most important piece. Without it the game is loss. However, if we were to assign a value to the king based on the number of squares it can control, we would end up with a total of 4 points.  This means that the king is stronger than a knight, bishop and pawn but weaker than the queen and rook.

Many players may ask, “If the king is the most important piece on the chess board then why is it so weak?” That’s a great question and in this article we will get to understand why the creators of the game made the king with such limited powers. Let’s have a look at their reasoning.

Why Is The King So Weak In Chess?

The main reason the king is made weak is because it would be harder to deliver checkmate on a king that is powerful. The game would be much slow than it is today. It is this reason why the game was designed to only allow the king to move one square at a time in any direction. 

Imagine if the King possessed the same power as the Queen? The king could easily escape threats from the opposing side and thus it would take forever to deliver checkmate.

Related Post: How does the king move in chess

How To Increase The Strength Of Your King

According to chess terminology, the strength of a piece is dependent on the amount of squares it can control. Therefore, if we want our king to become more powerful, we should bring it closer to the center of the board where it can control a total of 9 squares.

A king located on the edge of the board loses its strength because it can only control a total of 6 squares. Even worse, a king that is brought to any four corners of the board is at it’s weakest point since it now governs only 4 square.

Taking Precautions For Your King

We know that we should bring our king close to the center of the board to increase it’s power and dominance. Keep in mind that this is only possible during the latter stages of the game when there are a few pieces left on the board. 

We should ONLY bring our king to the center of the board when the endgame stage arises. Typically when we are left with only pawns or a minor piece.

The King should always be safely tucked into the corner of the board in the early stage of the game. This helps to safeguard our king from threats and attacks of the opposing side. We usually safeguard our king by means of castling. Click here to learn more about this special move.

Why the King becomes so important in the Endgame

The king becomes more stronger in the endgame that it is in the opening or middlegame stages. This piece become very critical in the latter stages of the game.

One of the King’s main role in the endgame is to help it’s pawns move all the way to the eight rank where it can be promoted to a powerful queen. The king does this by marching forward to the center of the board to gain opposition over the enemy king. Once you gain opposition, you can begin marching your pawns forward to what is known as the queening square.

The queening square is the last square on the 8th rank where the pawn lands on to get promoted. In many cases the king is needed to safe guard and control this queening square in order for the pawn to be promoted.

If your pawn can arrive at the backrank and gets promoted, it usually means gameover for your opponent. This is why it’s so important that we activate out king in the endgame.



Andrew Hercules

Hercules Chess, launched in 2020, is a website that teaches you about chess. We started as a chess blog and became a chess training platform in early 2022.

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