I am in pretty much the situation of this question: I'm trying to teach my four-year-old son the rules of chess, but the concept of "checkmate" is too abstract for a small child, so I want to tell him that the goal is to capture the king instead.

The problem is that I'm using an iPad app rather than a physical board (for a number of reasons, including the fact that the app will show you each piece's legal moves, so we don't have to explain all of the moving rules before we start playing).

Does anyone know of a chess app that both (1) shows legal moves (which most of them do) and (2) allows king captures (the feature I can't find)?

  • 3
    I wouldn't say checkmate is too abstract. You could call it "trapping" the king. Or "put it in check where it can't get out of check". And then show him some simple examples on the board/app. When showing a checkmate position, demonstrate how the king is attacked, and go through how it can't get out of the check by trying to move to each square. Aug 18, 2020 at 19:12
  • Adding to the other comment, I knew how to play chess by the age of four, so the concept of checkmate being "too abstract" for a child seems rather far removed from reality.
    – Scounged
    Aug 18, 2020 at 21:38
  • 1
    Tell him the win is announced when the K capture is inevitable ("checkmate" = "the K is dead") and the capture itself is not actually played. It could be, and it would make no difference to the rest of the played moves if it were, nor to who the winner is, but by convention it isn't. He will learn something about the formal side of boardgames. Clarify that it's announced only 1 move before, not 2 or more moves before. It could be announced at any stage, but there might be a dispute over the analysis, whereas everything is clear at 1 move before. And a losing player can knock his K over.
    – user18768
    Dec 5, 2020 at 11:38
  • ^ That's how I taught it to my 4yo. Also playing on a proper board is far more fun than picking on a handheld computer. Being shown all the legal moves encourages an attitude of "guess whether I can go there - try and hopefully it will be legal", which is the wrong approach. A program can be used later. When it doesn't allow some move he wants to make, let him work out why, asking you for help if he needs it.
    – user18768
    Dec 5, 2020 at 11:44
  • Also regarding K capture you could add that if you check your opponent's K and he doesn't notice and plays accordingly, you can't capture his K on the next move, because any move that leaves the K capturable is illegal and therefore he played a move that wasn't allowed. That teaches something about the discipline of the game. (This isn't "too abstract". He's already learning about the discipline of the game when he learns there's a mandatory starting position, required board orientation, and rules governing how each piece moves.)
    – user18768
    Dec 5, 2020 at 11:48

1 Answer 1



Maybe Antichess is what you are looking for. The aim is to be the one to lose all the pieces first. And it's mandatory to eat. And of course kings are eaten. You can play under lichess.org such chess variant selecting a custom variant. You can see details here. But with children it's always better to play in person of course.

Legendary chess

Legendary chess

I also recommend you Legendary chess, an application developed in Uruguay aimed for all ages and designed in a didactic way to learn chess basics step by step in a fun way with a storytelling scenario.

I don't remember exactly if there is a specific type of game where kings are eaten, but I bet you it's worth it to check the game and see.

In the site you can download the Spanish or English version. It's a Windows based application but you can always run it using wine if under Linux or Mac.

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