The objective of chess is to put the opponent's king in a position where it cannot evade capture. Why not go all the way?

Short of tremendous blunders of moving into check, chess would be completely the same, except with one more move at the end, and the rules would be simpler and easier to explain.

  • 2
    I think the issue with your proposed rule changes (if I've understood you correctly) is that it would greatly affect stalemate rules; as it is now, it is illegal to put one's king in check, but with your rules it would only be considered a gross blunder, which would change quite a lot when it comes to endgame theory and stalemate tricks.
    – Scounged
    Dec 2, 2018 at 14:07
  • I lack sufficient hard knowledge to give a proper answer. However, checkmate has a feeling to it. There is an aesthetic. Medievally in at least some parts of the world, to the extent to which the person of the king was held sacred, the war must have ended once the king's position was lost. Besides, what king would allow play of a game whose goal was to kill the king? A game whose goal is to spare the king from certain death—that is, a game whose goal is checkmate, schach-mat, literally, "the king is dead," rendering the kill unnecessary—might ease the royal mind, as one might suppose.
    – thb
    Dec 2, 2018 at 16:14
  • @thb, where does this schach-mat, literally, "the king is dead," come from?
    – hkBst
    Dec 3, 2018 at 15:12
  • @hkBst: I read this book 40 years ago. If I recall, I learned the word there; but I have read this elsewhere, as well. I read it in some forgotten German-language book 30 years ago, besides. (My memory is not very authoritative, of course, but that is what I remember.) At any rate, Hanauer, author of the earlier book, said that the word was Persian.
    – thb
    Dec 4, 2018 at 1:53

2 Answers 2


Short of tremendous blunders of moving into check, chess would be completely the same

But it wouldn't be the same. There is one case where moving a king into check would not be a blunder. That case is what we currently call stalemate. If it was legal to move a king into check, then almost all cases of what is currently stalemate would instead be a win for one side.

This would have a huge impact on the endgame. Many endgames which are currently draws would turn into wins for the side with more material (KP vs K would win regardless of opposition, for example, and many other endgames can be simplified to that) and many theoretically won but difficult endgames would be much easier to win (since KNN vs K would now win, KNN vs KP could be won by just taking the pawn.)

And this effect on the endgame would in turn have a large effect on the earlier stages of the game. It's harder to sacrifice a pawn if you know you don't have drawing chances in the event that you end up a pawn down in the endgame.

You could, of course, hack a stalemate exception into the new rules, but that would probably be even more confusing.


Of course the goal of chess is to capture the opponent king. However, I see no point in your suggestion for the game. If one player’s king is in check they are forced to move a piece so your king does not remain so. If you are checkmated, by definition, your king cannot move and so you cannot escape the check. Because no move you could possibly make would avoid that, there is no legal move for you and so it is game over.

So all in all, you cannot simply move any piece so you get checkmated in the next move because a check forces you to escape the threat of check.

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