The Importance of Checking

The primary goal in chess is to go after or check major pieces, especially the enemy king. Every beginner should be aware of this. Below is a summary of how to check pieces in chess.

Checking is a warning prior to the capture of a major piece, like a king, queen, or a rook. When we are about to capture a major piece we are obligated to announce it before doing so. We verbally say, "check-king" or "check-queen," or "check-rook." Sometimes in some games checking rooks need not be announced. But in every chess game, we should announce our checks to the enemy king or queen.

It is not allowed to simply capture the king or queen without announcing a check. When an unannounced capture takes place against the said pieces the capture is void. The chess positioning just before the capture is resumed and the opponent is given a chance to make the enemy king or queen escape. In case the opponent still cannot remedy the check despite the announcement then a capture becomes legitimate.

A check is escaped only when the checked piece is able to safely get out of the checking range of the checking piece. It is not enough to just move the checked piece. If a rook checks a king and the king just moves forward but is still within capturing range of the rook, the checking player should still announce the check. If the king escapes the checking range of the rook but is checked by another enemy piece on the square where it escapes, the checking player should still announce the check. When there's no way out for the checked king, then we announce the checkmate and the game ends.

The rules governing a check against the king also apply to the queen—except that the game does not end even when the queen is captured. With the rest of the pieces, a check may or may not be announced. Nobody announces a check against a pawn, but some does against a bishop or a knight.

In a way, understanding how to check pieces in chess makes us see that mistakes are given chances in the game. Everyone makes chess blunders, and a check is a way of providing room for improvement. Checking is really teaching the enemy lessons on strategy and chess piece values. As we check each other in chess the more we learn and the sharper we become in the game.