“The King is a fighting piece. Use it!” is a remark ascribed to Wilhelm Steinitz who is regarded as the first World Champion in Chess. Nevertheless, your common experience may make you think of your King only as a liability, which needs to be protected at any cost and the cost sometimes becomes so high that you give up your efforts! Only when you have been able to survive till an endgame with only pawns around that you possibly appreciate the thoughts behind the remark of Mr. Steinitz!
But a search through chess archives will show you many games where a player did use his King as a fighting piece who traveled all the way into the opponent’s territory to capture pieces and pawns and to provide support to his own attacking forces for delivering checkmate!
I have picked up six such examples and divided those into two groups. In this article, we present three games with a little ironic twist because it was the opponent who was mostly attacking but the fighting King took opportunity of these checks to move where it wanted to go without loss of tempo! The opponent ultimately realizes that he has brought the doom upon himself by his failure to see the intention of the King taking a walk!
In the second article Chess Tactics: The King’s role in attack – part 2, we show another three games where the King boldly stepped out on his own by taking advantage of opponent’s constricted position and took the battle to the enemy King to create a winning position.
First game –
|43.||Rxe2+||Kf1||White looked at 44. … Rg1# or 44. Rxg2 hxg2# and resigned.|
Second game –
|26.||Kg5||Bd5||26… Rfe8 27.Kh6 Kf8 28.Qh8+ Ke7 29.Rxe6+ Kxe6 (29… fxe6 30.Qg7#) 30.Nc5+ Ke7 (30… Kf5 31.g4#) 31.Re4+ Kd8 (31. … Ne5 32. Rxe5+ Qxe5 33. Qxe5+ Kd8 (33. … Kf8 34. Nd7+ Kg8 35. Qg7#) 34. Qd6+ Kc8 35. Qd7+ Kb8 36. Qxb7#) 32. Qxe8#
|27.||Kh6||Resigns||Black cannot prevent Qg7#|
Third game –
The analyses are as given by Shashin himself, who considered this as the best game of his life.
|24||Kh2||Qd6+||Shashin considered this as the losing move and according to him White could force a draw here by repetition of moves with the following line of play. (But if Korchnoi thought he was winning, he would not go for this!)
24. … Ng4+!! 25. hxg4 Qd6+ 26. Qg3 Nxg3 27. Rd7+ Kf8 28. Bxg7+ Kc8 29. Rxd6 Nf1+ 30. Kg1 Nd2+ 31. Kh2 Nf1+ 32. Kg1 Nd2+ etc.
|29.||Ke4||Qe2+||Not 29. Kxg4 because of 29. … Rg1+ 30. Kh5 g6+ 31. Kh6 Qxh4#
Black’s 29. … Qe2+ is a losing move. After 29. … Re1+ 30. Kd5 Rd1+ 31. Kc4 Kxf7 32. hxg4 Ke8, the game is still open.
|35.||Rxg7+||Resigns||35. … Kf8 36. Rg8#|
In Chess Tactics: The King’s role in attack – part 2, you will see examples of one King stepping out to approach and corner his opponent.