The Significance of a Check and a Capture

Why do we need to capture enemy pieces in chess? As a rule, all pieces are given the ability to capture because capturing is a main activity in the game. Hence, we should know the value and essence of capturing according to rules—the real reason why we need to capture chess pieces.

Capturing is when an enemy piece stands in the way of where our piece is supposed to land or where we want it to land. When this situation develops we first check and then capture. With minor pieces checking is not necessary. We simply go ahead and capture. With major pieces (king, queen, or rook) we first announce a check before capturing.

The ruling here is that checking and capturing are only possible when the checking piece has the intended victim in its path. We cannot check or capture a piece not covered in the direction of our piece. Whether our checking piece is under check or would be under check or capture after a checking or capture is immaterial.

Many treat capturing or taking enemy pieces in chess as an end in itself instead of a means to an end. Hence, we see some players aiming to capture as many enemy pieces as possible and many win strategies focusing on mere extermination of pieces. But really, why do we need to capture enemy pieces?

The philosophy of capturing chess pieces is, of course, to win the game. But to win a game we don't always need to capture all or as many enemy pieces as possible. The real reason why we need to capture chess pieces is to get pieces out of the way in our assault of the enemy king. We should not exert all energies into merely capturing a rook or the queen. This drive may be used against us later so that we get trapped in our greed.

The right attitude is to always go after the king and eliminate whatever enemy piece stands in the way. This makes our play focused and direct, saving us time and energy. When the opponent is too absorbed capturing the queen, this is a perfect time to concentrate on assaulting the enemy king as we lure most enemy pieces going after our queen far away from their king.

Thus, it is vital to always ask ourselves why we need to capture chess pieces. This will keep us on the right track and not waste our thoughts and energies on secondary things.