King walk

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Short vs. Timman, final position
c8 black bishop
e8 black rook
f8 black rook
g8 black king
c7 black pawn
d7 white rook
f7 black pawn
b6 black pawn
c6 black queen
e6 black pawn
f6 white queen
g6 black pawn
a5 black pawn
e5 white pawn
g5 white king
h5 black pawn
a4 white pawn
c4 white pawn
d4 white rook
h4 white pawn
f3 white knight
c2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
Short had marched his king from g1 to g5, and 35.Kh6 (or 34...Kh7 35.Qxg6+ Kh8 36.Qh6+ Kg8 37.Kf6) followed by Qg7# cannot be stopped.

In chess, a king walk, also known as a king march, steel king (Dutch: wandelkoning, literally "wanderking") or fighting king, refers to occasions where the king travels up the board in the middle game or opening, often involved in a mating attack against the opposing king.[1] This is a highly unusual occurrence since the safety of the king is considered paramount, and players are recommended to keep the king out of harm's way, at least until the endgame.[2][3] In contrast, Wilhelm Steinitz, often known as the father of modern chess, was renowned for his maxim that "the king is a fighting piece".[4][5] Dutch chess historian and author Tim Krabbé has documented over one hundred such games.[1]

Because of the rarity of such tactics, those which reap rewards for the attacking player often have brilliancy prizes bestowed upon them.[6][7] Perhaps the most famous in recent history,[8] where Nigel Short defeated Jan Timman in Tilburg in 1991, was voted as one of the hundred greatest chess games in a list compiled by FM Graham Burgess, and GMs John Nunn and John Emms.[9]

A king walk can also refer to occasions where the king travels across the board (from kingside to queenside, or vice versa) to reach a safer position.

Example games[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Krabbé, Tim (1985), Chess Curiosities, London: George Allen & Unwin, ISBN 0-04-794021-2
  2. ^ "Chess; Theory aside, the king safety is foremost", Robert Byrne, The New York Times, September 7, 1986
  3. ^ "Ten Tips to Winning Chess – 7. Keep your king safe" Archived 2007-08-19 at the Wayback Machine, Arthur Bisguier, United States Chess Federation website
  4. ^ "Wilhelm Steinitz (1836–1900)" Archived 2008-06-19 at the Wayback Machine, Jeremy Silman
  5. ^ "Chess; Girding the king", Robert Byrne, The New York Times, June 27, 1982
  6. ^ "Steel king from Utrecht", Open Chess Diary, July 11, 2003
  7. ^ "Steel King goes all the way", Open Chess Diary, July 4, 2007
  8. ^ "The outrageous king walk", Dennis Monokroussos, ChessBase, April 2, 2006
  9. ^ Burgess, Graham; Nunn, John; Emms, John (October 1998), The Mammoth Book of the World's Greatest Chess Games, Carroll & Graf, ISBN 978-0-7867-0587-0

External links[edit]