Error Management Guide:
Part of the Beginner's Chess Guide (Section 3)

Error Management Guide
[Weakening Your King's Position]

Weakening Your King's Position

Of all these Error Management examples, Weakening your King's position is probably the primary mistake to avoid.

While one objective is to build up an attack that will, hopefully, result in "Checkmating" your opponent's King; your other, primary objective is to make sure your own King's position is as safe as it can be.

All you're doing is making pointless work for yourself if, as you attempt to "Checkmate" your opponent's King, you allow your own King to become exposed and vulnerable to attack, itself.

The following are all situations whereby your King's position can become Weakened:

  • Leaving your King in its central, un-Castled starting position. As your Pawns begin to advance, they leave access points for your opponent's material ... This can't be helped and is a natural by-product of development ...

    But, it's clearly not a wise idea to leave your King in sight of potential attack - if it gets "Checked", you will have to spend a turn or more getting it out of "Check" and this can allow your opponent to steal a lead in development. Not good.

    The safest option, during the respective Opening & Middlegame phases, is to transport your King to the outer region of the Board, by Castling.

    The closer a King sits to the central squares, the more troops it requires to protect it. It's far easier to defend the King when there's only a small window through which the enemy can attack, which is what Castling helps to achieve ...

    With the King easier to protect, you'll tie-up fewer units of your army, therefore you'll have a greater proportion of your force to launch your assault on the enemy King's position.

  • Castling your King and then moving the defensive wall of Pawns, from in front. Those Pawns should remain in place, for as long as possible ...

    By remaining 1 square in front of the King, direct or diagonally, then, should one of those Pawns get captured, the King will be close enough to capture the attacker.

    Now, with all that said, two occasions arise when one of the Pawns may be advanced one square:

    1. To "Fianchetto" a Bishop - as this reinforces the Castled King's Stronghold.

    2. To create "Luft" - you advance a Pawn to give the Castled King an escape route, in order to prevent a Back Rank Mate

    So, the position of the Pawns, to the King, acts as a slight deterrent to your opponent's army.

    Yes, with enough support, this Castled King's position can be breached; but it can't be done in a single turn and will require more moves, by your opponent, to build up an attack which, should give you time to spot the trouble brewing and reinforce the threatened position.

  • Allowing your King to become trapped - or "Smothered" - by its surrounding Pawns & Pieces. This can result in losing the game by Smothered Mate.

  • A Castled King can become trapped by its defensive line of Pawns. If an enemy Rook or Queen can get down to get direct sight of the King, it can result in Back Rank Mate ...

    You must spot this potential hazard before it happens and give your King an escape route ... This is done by advancing one of the Pawns, to give the King an escape route.

Moving On: When to Resign (Page 13).

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