Why do they say check in chess?

Answered by Jeremy Urbaniak

In the game of chess, the objective is to capture the opponent’s king. However, the king is a special piece and cannot be captured like other pieces on the board. Instead, when the king is under attack, the term “check” is used to indicate that the king is in a vulnerable position and needs to be protected.

The term “check” serves as a warning to the player whose king is under threat. It is derived from the Persian word “shah,” which means king. Over time, this term evolved into “check” and became a standard part of chess terminology.

When a player’s king is in check, it means that one of the opponent’s pieces is threatening to capture the king on the next move. This can create a sense of urgency and requires the player to take immediate action to safeguard their king.

The reason why a king cannot be captured directly is because capturing the king would result in the end of the game, known as checkmate. The objective is to checkmate the opponent’s king, which means putting it in a position where it is under attack and cannot escape capture.

By announcing “check,” the player is notifying their opponent that their king is in danger. This allows the opponent to respond accordingly and take measures to defend their king. They can either move the king out of harm’s way, block the attacking piece, or capture the threatening piece.

The concept of check adds an element of strategy and tension to the game. It forces players to constantly evaluate the safety of their king and make decisions based on the threats they face. It also adds a level of excitement for both players and spectators, as the game can quickly shift in favor of one player when a check occurs.

In my personal experience, the moment when a check is announced can be quite intense. It puts pressure on both players to carefully consider their moves and anticipate their opponent’s next move. It becomes a critical moment in the game where the player whose king is in check must think strategically and make the best decision to protect their king.

To summarize, the term “check” is used in chess to indicate that a player’s king is under attack. It serves as a warning and prompts the player to take immediate action to protect their king. This concept adds excitement and strategic depth to the game, making every move crucial in the battle to capture the opponent’s king.