Attacking the King

  • ogerboy
  • | Dec 22, 2008

The object of the game is to checkmate your opponent's king. Sadly, throwing pieces at your opponent's king will not work. You need to have at least a hint of clue on what you're doing.

Not all squares on the chessboard are created equally. The four squares of the centre is just some squares that should be prized higher than others. But there are other, not so obvious squares, that should be prized just as much as the centre.

I am going to split this article into three parts, the king in the centre, the kings castled on opposite sides, and the kings castled on the same side. Let's start by looking at the king in the centre. 

King in the Centre

Generally, if your king is castled and your opponent's king is not, then the strategy is simple - stop your opponent from castling and open the centre. 

When attacking the king in the centre, unlike attacking a castled king, your rooks can also get into the action along with the other pieces. 

During your attempt to reach the enemy king, try to create other weaknesses, such as forcing your opponent to push a pawn which he does not want to push. As quoted by many, pawns are the hardest pieces to play with, as they cannot move back. 

Kings Castled on Opposite Sides

Kings castled on oppostie sides are, generally speaking, the most exciting to play, however, the hardest. Calculations must be precise, you must calculate who will reach the other side first, how much damage would your pawn storm do compared to your opponent's pawn storm, etc. The side trying to attack the enemy king castled on the kingside will try to open the h file or the g file, while the side trying to attack the enemy king castled on the queenside will try to open the a file or the b file.

Because of the many positions that can arrive from castling on opposite sides, the only tip I can give you is that while you attack your opponent's king, if your opponent starts pushing his flank pawns as well, always leave some pieces back home to defend your own king just in case. Here is a game where opposite side castling took place. Judith Polgar brought down her opponent with her fierce attacking ability. 

Castling on Same Sides

This is, without doubt, the most common occurence in the game of chess. Unfortunately, a pawn storm now would do more damage to yourself than to your opponent. That's when the minor pieces come in. Knights and bishops, along with the queen can cause a devastating effect for your opponent.

As I said before, not all squares on the chess board are created equal. There are five main focal points for your pieces when attacking, assuming that your opponent castled on the kingside. These focal points are, h7, g7, f7, g6, and the dark squares h6, g7, and f6.

h7 is easier to reach than the other squares. A bishop on the b1-h7 diagonal can easily attack that square (namely the classic bishop sacrifice).  A knight on g5 can also be very effective (althought it almost always gets chased away in the end with h6). 

f7 is a favourite target before the king has castled (everyone knows the Fried Liver right?). However, once the king has castled, it is usually not as temptin as h7.

g7 is the hardest to reach, however, brings the most devastating effect once it is reached. For example, when a queen reaches h7 or f7, it is only a check. But, if it comes to g7, it is usually a checkmate. 

g6 as a target may raise eyebrows for some, but it is actually a very useful square. A queen on g6, with a bishop behind her on the same diagonal, is a deadlier version of an attack on h7. Other pieces can also make home of the g6 comfortably, cramping the black position while doing so.

The dark square complex around the castled king is no stranger to us, even most beginners heard of the Bishop on f6 and Queen on h6 mating combination. That combination is deadly, and usually hard to prevent.

That's all I have to say guys, sorry for making it so long again. Until next time.




  • 17 months ago


    Hey @chewie1200 It is because she is in check

  • 21 months ago


    yes why can't polgar just checkmate on move 21?  or why didn't she... please someone answer

  • 8 years ago


    I can't play like Judith Polgar.I'm trying to attack on king but ı always lost fatuously.

  • 8 years ago


    Great article ogerboy. Thx.

  • 8 years ago


    Oops. Missed the check.

  • 8 years ago


    In the Polgar example, instead of 21...Nxg5 how about Qh7 or Qh8 for checkmate?  Am I missing something?

  • 8 years ago


    Nice article! Thanks.  In the Judith Polgar vs. Ferenc Berkes game above I imagine that many players reviewing the game would consider being a piece down for an attack a bit risky.  Stronger players might consider the power of the white rooks and the crampness of blacks pieces as an equalizer of sorts.  However after reviewing the game via computer aided analysis it seems that Berkes should have played 17... Bd6 taking hold of the dark square d6-h2 diagional that Polger would later use as passage for her queen.

    Still, the game does illustrate the points regarding opposite castling sides. 

  • 8 years ago


    Great article. 

  • 8 years ago


    nice, thanks

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