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Does king go on black?

Chess is a game played between two players on a chessboard with 16 pieces for each player. The pieces include 8 pawns, 2 rooks, 2 bishops, 2 knights, 1 queen and 1 king. The goal of the game is to checkmate the opponent’s king. But where does the king start on the board? Does it go on a black or white square?

The Initial Chess Board Setup

The initial setup of the chess board is an important part of the game. The board consists of 64 squares in an 8×8 grid alternating between light and dark colors. The colors are referred to as “white” and “black” squares. Each player starts with:

  • 8 pawns placed on the 2nd rank (row)
  • 2 rooks placed on the 1st and 8th rank
  • 2 knights placed next to the rooks
  • 2 bishops placed next to the knights
  • 1 queen placed on her own color
  • 1 king placed next to the queen

The pieces are always set up the same way at the start of a game. The diagram below shows the initial setup:

a b c d e f g h
a b c d e f g h

The King’s Starting Position

Looking at the initial board setup, we can see that the kings for each player start the game on the e1 and e8 squares. The king is represented by ♔ for white and ♚ for black. Both of these squares are dark colored or “black” squares. So in answer to the original question – yes, the king does start on a black square!

This is an important rule that never changes. The king always starts on the square that matches its own color. The white king starts on e1 (a white square) and the black king is on e8 (a black square). The queen also always starts on her own color. All of the other pieces start on the opposite color from what they represent.

Why the King Is on a Black Square

There are a few key reasons why the king is always placed on a black square at the start of a chess game:

  • Consistency – the same starting position every game.
  • Balance – kings oppose each other in the center of the board.
  • Strategy – supports opening moves like king’s pawn to e4.

Having a standardized starting position is vital for chess. The initial setup seen above is used for every single game, so players always know where the pieces begin and can start strategizing right away. If the king switched colors between games, it would add unnecessary confusion.

Placing the kings directly across from each other in the center creates symmetry and balance. The two kings act as opposites battling for control of the board. Putting them on squares of opposite colors helps convey this relationship visually.

Starting on e8 and e1 also allows for strong opening moves like advancing the king’s pawn to e4. This gives both players the opportunity to control the central squares early in the game. The king’s original square provides safety while supporting key positional moves.

King’s Rules and Movement

Now that we know where the king starts, let’s discuss how the king moves and some important rules:

  • The king can move one square in any direction – horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.
  • A king may never move into check. You cannot willingly put yourself in check.
  • Castling allows the king to move two squares towards a rook.
  • A king is checked when threatened by an opponent’s piece.
  • Checkmate occurs when a king is placed in check with no legal move to escape.

These unique movement and behavior rules differentiate the king from all other pieces. Notably, the king is the only piece that may never move into a threatened square. The king can move away from check, block the check with another piece, or capture the threatening piece. But never into check!

Castling is a special king move allowing the king to move two squares towards a rook in a single move. This helps protect the king and activate the rook. It’s the only time a king may move more than one square!

Checking the king and delivering checkmate are essential parts of chess strategy. All other moves are focused on either achieving checkmate, avoiding it, or gaining material and positional advantages. Mastering the powers and limitations of the king is key for success.

Famous Checkmates with Black King

There are several checkmate patterns that frequently occur when the black king is under attack. Learning these key checkmates is valuable for winning more games as white.

Smothered Mate

Smothered mate involves trapping the black king on its starting square using a knight. The king is “smothered” by its own pieces with no way out. It occurs on f7 or f8 when white plays:

  1. Knight to h6
  2. Knight to f7 (or f8) delivering checkmate!

Back Rank Mate

Back rank checkmates (also called corridor mate) happen when the black king is trapped on the 8th rank. White aligns a rook or queen horizontally or vertically with the king. For example:

  1. White rook to e8
  2. Black king forced back to f8
  3. White queen to f8 is checkmate

Scholar’s Mate

Scholar’s mate is the most common checkmate in beginner games. White trades off the f7 pawn opening the king’s position. Then white brings the queen and bishop in with checkmate threats.

  1. Queen to h5 attacking f7
  2. Bishop to c4 developing with threats
  3. Queen takes pawn on f7 exposing black king
  4. Queen to f7 is checkmate!


In standard chess, the king always starts on the black e8 square for black and the white e1 square for white. This mirrors the king’s position directly across the board from each other. The consistent setup aids memorization and supports key opening strategies.

The king moves one square in any direction, but special rules prevent it from moving into check. Mastering the king is vital – the ultimate goal is delivering checkmate against your opponent’s king!

Knowing patterns like smothered mate, back rank mate, and scholar’s mate will improve your ability to attack the black king. Starting on a black square supports the king’s importance while creating weaknesses to exploit.

So in summary:

  • The king always starts on the black square matching its color
  • This allows for consistent board setup and opening moves
  • Special rules limit the king’s movement and checking abilities
  • Checkmate is the ultimate goal by attacking the enemy king

Understanding the king’s position and rules is crucial for succeeding at chess!