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Check and checkmate facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
The black king has been checkmated; the game is over.

Check is a term in chess when a player's king is attacked. If the king is in check, the player must find a way to stop the threat; he can not just ignore it. The player must do one of these things:

  • Capture the checking piece (with the king or another piece).
  • Interpose: put a piece between the checking piece and the king. This only works if the checking piece is a long-distance piece (bishop, rook or queen).
  • Move the king to a square which is not threatened.

If none of these works, then it is not a check but checkmate.


A smothered mate
Start of chess board.
a8 __ b8 __ c8 __ d8 __ e8 __ f8 __ g8 black rook h8 black king
a7 __ b7 __ c7 __ d7 __ e7 __ f7 white knight g7 black pawn h7 black pawn
a6 __ b6 __ c6 __ d6 __ e6 __ f6 __ g6 __ h6 __
a5 __ b5 __ c5 __ d5 __ e5 __ f5 __ g5 __ h5 __
a4 __ b4 __ c4 __ d4 __ e4 __ f4 __ g4 __ h4 __
a3 __ b3 __ c3 __ d3 __ e3 __ f3 __ g3 __ h3 __
a2 __ b2 __ c2 __ d2 __ e2 __ f2 __ g2 white pawn h2 white king
a1 __ b1 __ c1 __ d1 __ e1 __ f1 __ g1 __ h1 __
End of chess board.

Checkmate (often called mate) is when a player's king is attacked (in check) and there is no way to escape that attack. Or, simply put, the king is under attack and cannot get out of being captured. Giving checkmate is the main goal in chess: a player who is mated loses the game.


These rules have been part of chess since its beginning. Until the early 20th century, it was customary to announce "Check!" verbally when making the move. This would be regarded as strange today; players do not address each other in competitive chess except where necessary.

Until the 19th century it was customary to warn one's opponent when attacking his queen: "Check to the queen!" Most players today do not know this was ever done.p74

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