Each player has one king, winch is the most important, though not the most powerful, piece on the board. The prime objective of chess is to surround and pin down the enemy king—i.e., to deliver checkmate. Yet the king's move itself is very simple: one square in any direction.
The one exception, called castling, is not essential to a beginner's game, and we shall postpone discussing it. In the game's early stages, the king is not generally used in attack. To attack an enemy unit he must move on to a neighboring square—far too
i isky when he can retreat to safety only one square at: a time. It is only in the later stages, the endgame, when most of the pieces have been removed through captures and the risk of a snap rheckmate has diminished, that the king emerges as a fighter. Knrlier on his role tends to be purely defensive. The king's maneuverability is seriously reduced if he is placed at the edge of the hoard—which can be ruthlessly exploited in the endgame. Often llie first stage in delivering checkmate is to force the enemy king against the edge, cutting off all his lines of escape.
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