In chess, a king walk, also known as a steel king (Dutch: wandelkoning, literally "wanderking") or fighting king, refers to occasions where the king travels up the board, often actively involved in the mating attack against the opposing king. This is a highly unusual occurrence since the safety of the king is considered paramount, and players are recommended to keep them out of harm's way, at least until the endgame. Nevertheless, in contrast Wilhelm Steinitz, often known as the father of modern chess, was renowned for his maxim that "the king is a fighting piece". Dutch chess historian and author Tim Krabbé has documented over one hundred such games.
Because of the rarity of such tactics, those which reap rewards for the attacking player often have brilliancy prizes bestowed upon them. Perhaps the most famous in recent history, 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.
- Short–Timman, Tilburg 1991. Alekhine Defense: Modern. Alburt Variation (B04) Short ties up Timman's pieces and his King can advance.
- Alekhine-Yates, London 1922, Queen's Gambit Declined: Orthodox Defense. Main Line (D64) 1-0 Alekhine conjures up an attack in the endgame, and his King joins the fray.
- Krabbé, Tim (1985), Chess Curiosities, London: George Allen & Unwin, ISBN 0-04-794021-2
- "Chess; Theory aside, the king safety is foremost", Robert Byrne, The New York Times, September 7, 1986
- "Ten Tips to Winning Chess - 7. Keep your king safe", Arthur Bisguier, United States Chess Federation website
- "Wilhelm Steinitz (1836–1900)", Jeremy Silman
- "Chess; Girding the king", Robert Byrne, The New York Times, June 27, 1982
- "Steel king from Utrecht", Open Chess Diary, July 11, 2003
- "Steel King goes all the way", Open Chess Diary, July 4, 2007
- "The outrageous king walk", Dennis Monokroussos, ChessBase, April 2, 2006
- 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
- "His Majesty steps out", capanegra, chessgames.com
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