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Brave Kings

  • WGM Natalia_Pogonina
  • | Feb 7, 2012

The king is the main piece in chess, and the central object in any player’s thoughts. How do I protect my own king and checkmate the opponent’s monarch? While being quite valuable, the king can’t boast being mobile enough to fight efficiently in the middlegame, so most of the time its power can be seen only in the endgame.

As you probably know, one of the best ways of securing your king is castling. This allows the protection of the king by a group of valiant pawns and improves the coordination of other pieces, connecting the rooks. In the center the king is very vulnerable and subject to all types of attacks by pieces from both sides of the board, so in most cases it makes sense to castle early. Of course, chess is a very complicated game, so there are many exceptions to this rule.

While castling the natural way or artificially (walking with the king “on foot”) is a standard maneuver, some positions require the opposite behavior. Sometimes the king is an important actor even in the middlegame. Here is an example of a fresh game where the Black king decided to stay in the center and take care of itself:

In other situations the king is not satisfied with the passive role of remaining in the centre, and it bursts into the action! In 2010 the fantastic game Gashimov-Grischuk was played (game of the year according to ChessPro). The Black king walked half of the board to help Black win the point. Such travels require good coordination of the other pieces, as they should be accompanying His Majesty and protecting it whenever necessary.

Here is another absolutely classical example of a king’s walk:


Photo by Martin Chrz

In a game against renowned GM Rafael Vaganian at the Snowdrops-Oldhands match I also got to meet a brave king. On move 21, instead of a standard castling, Rafael decided to leave his king in the centre. This was possible due to the knight on d5, who turned out to be a powerful defender. The king was quite safe on d7, and just waiting for the right moment to grab the pawn on d6.

Here is the game:

The first interesting option was 16. Qe2, but I have missed it. On move 19 I misevaluated the position and didn’t play f4, although it was more promising than 19. Qe2. Black wasn’t forced to play Kd7, but the idea looked both strong and beautiful. Mutual mistakes happened on move 28. At some point I decided to settle for a draw and played somewhat inaccurately.  


  • 14 months ago


    interesting article

  • 14 months ago

    WGM Natalia_Pogonina

    Let’s stay in touch on social networks! Here are my official accounts:

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  • 2 years ago


  • 3 years ago


    nice article pogonina Smile

  • 3 years ago


    well i am the best online chess player in the world. i had to promise chess.com not to let my rating go above 1480. if i did not make that promise, chess.com would not have allowed me on This Site. 

  • 3 years ago


    Sorry, I mean the great is you Nina..Cool

  • 3 years ago


    Thanks Nina for the very interesting article... it is great! Cool

  • 3 years ago


    Think a lot of folks castle because they are told to - not totaly bought in -  open up both lanes when I can (i.e castle right or left) - only castle when in danger - it is my preference to bring K into game - while opening much risk - in most cases, gives me an additional piece

  • 3 years ago


    chess mirrors the human nature..mastering the game is like understandung life

  • 3 years ago


    Another glorious royal march:



  • 3 years ago


    nice article. you must know english, google translate cant translate like that,,,

  • 3 years ago


    I like the Carlsen/Gelfand match from the 2011 Tal Memorial.  Magnus puts the track shoes on his King and runs to victory.  http://www.chess.co.uk/twic/chessnews/events/tal-memorial-2011/carlsen-beats-gelfand-in-tal-memorial-round-2

  • 3 years ago


    The GM will know, and so will many readers, of a famous game in which Richard Teichmann defeated a team of amateurs with a middlegame King manoeuvre. The position came down to King, Queen, Rook and minor piece with pawns versus the same, and while Black's pieces were completely tied down White didn't have enough force left over to deliver mate. So White's King marched to g6, ignoring the Black Queen's futile attempts at harassment, and Black resigned when the King got there as mate was inevitable.

  • 3 years ago


    grschuck and short's marches are the best

  • 3 years ago


    Grischuk demonstrated the power of the Bongcloud.

  • 3 years ago


    Thanks natalia, this article is very interesting!

  • 3 years ago


    that game by Grischuk and Gashimov was fantastic! I've never seen a king being the prey and the predator at the same time, especially in the game! Kudos to both players for executing a fantastic game!!


  • 3 years ago


    Very Instructive

  • 3 years ago


    No wonder the king is my favorite piece.

  • 3 years ago


    your beauty paralyses your opponent

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