If I remove a king from one side, which side has an advantage? Say, the losing condition will change for that side to "no pieces left".

Removing king = one less way to lose, but an extra piece is an extra piece.

  • 2
    As you say that an extra piece is an extra piece, it suggests that the advantage you ask about is for material advantage. But you have taken the step into illegal chess territory, as no approach to estimating advantages are relevant any more. You seem to be asking a question that cannot be answered. You need to add additional conditions or assumptions to explain what you are after.
    – user30536
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 17:05
  • @user30536, well, not really. It's "who has more chances to win from the start" advantage, if it makes sense
    – voismager
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 17:08
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    @user30536 the question is pretty clear. It's probably hard to answer, but that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the question. For example the question is quite easy if we simlify the starting position a bit and, for instance, get the queens traded off.
    – David
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 17:20
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    @user30536 best to think about it as chess variants such as capture-the-king but also imbalanced
    – qwr
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 22:28
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    I'd be surprised if the side with the king doesn't have a large advantage honestly - any trade favors them, since they win the endgame by a large margin.
    – Allure
    Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 23:24

1 Answer 1


Removing one player's king would have two effects:

  1. In the endgame the king is notionally worth 4 points as an attacking piece, more than a knight or bishop and almost as much as a rook. That is a massive advantage for the player with the king.

However, as Sigbert Tarrasch said, "Before the endgame, the Gods have placed the middle game"

  1. In the opening and middle game the player without the king has a massive advantage. Checks and tactics involving the king (pins, skewers, back rank threats) all disappear. The one weakness in the kingless player's position, f2, can generally be defended by moves like f3 (no longer a weakening move, instead it supports the center and prevents a piece like a knight or bishop coming to g4), Nh6 and Qe1 (also lining up the queen against the opponent's king).

The net effect would be to make the game very unbalanced but favouring the player without the king since their advantage comes first.

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