Can A King Move Diagonally In Chess? (Beginner Guide)

Chess is a game that has been around for centuries, and it is still one of the most popular games in the world. One of the things that makes chess so intriguing is that there are so many different ways to play the game.

There are literally thousands of different chess openings, and each one has its own unique strategic advantages and disadvantages.

One of the most common questions that chess players ask is whether or not the king can move diagonally. The answer to this question is actually quite simple. Read on to find out more.

Can A King Move Diagonally?

The King can move diagonally on the chess board but only one square at a time. It also has the ability to move in any direction (up, down, sideways, diagonally) so long as it is one square. In other words the king can move to any surrounding squares as shown in the image below.

King moves diagonally as indicated by blue arrows

can a king move diagonally

King moves in any direction as indicated by the green arrows

You could argue that the king has the powers of a bishop and a rook combined, but it’s scope is only limited to it’s neighbouring squares. The queen on the other hand is similar to the King, only difference is that the queen’s scope is far greater as it can move any number of squares, in any direction in a straight line.

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What Pieces Can Move Diagonally?

The king is not the only chess piece that can move diagonally. The chess piece that is commonly known for diagonal movement is the Bishop. Unlike the king, the bishop can move diagonally any number of squares in a straight line. The Queen, as previously mentioned, can also move diagonally any number of squares.

The image below shows the diagonal movement of a bishop compared to the king:

Can The King Move Backwards Diagonally?

Most beginner chess players wonder whether the King can move diagonally backwards. The answer is yes. Remember that the king can move in any direction one square at a time. Therefore it has the right to move backwards diagonally so long as the square is not endangered or occupied by your own pieces.

For example, the game below shows the diagonal movement of the black and white king in the endgame indicated by arrows. You can click through the game to see how they move.

Can The King Capture Diagonally?

So far, we’ve looked at how the king moves on the chessboard, but what about capture? Can the king capture diagonally?

The answer is yes. The king can capture enemy pieces diagonally so long as it is a legal move. This means:

  • The king cannot capture a piece that is protected by an enemy piece or it will be taken.
  • The king cannot move diagonally onto a square that is controlled by enemy piece(s).

The king can capture any enemy pieces in any direction, with the exception of the opponent’s king. The rule says that a king cannot capture a king. Checkmate is what ends the game, not the capture of the king. So the next time you’re playing a bullet or blitz game over the board, beware of this rule.

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When Does The King Move Diagonally?

The game of chess features 3 phases. The opening, the middlegame and the endgame. In the opening the king usually move once and that is to castle. I wrote an article on castling in chess. You can read more about it here: Long castle chess

When the king castles short it moves two squares ‘sideways’ further to the corner of the board so that it can stay safe and away from threats of the enemy.

The only time the king gets active is in the endgame when the pieces are traded off and it is safe to come out in the open. During this stage of the game, the king usually moves up the board which may involve moving diagonally forward to help out with passed pawns or to take control of key squares. For example, the endgame below shows how the king moves diagonally forward in order to help out with the passed pawn and promote the pawn into a queen:

So if you want to know when the king moves diagonally it’s usually in the endgame.

Should I Move The King Only Diagonally?

You can move the king in any direction but the square you choose to move it to will depend on several factors.

If moving the king diagonally onto a square leads to your disadvantage, then it’s best not to do so. For example you could move your king diagonally and walk straight into a trap set by your opponent.

However, if moving the king diagonally leads to a capture of your opponents pieces, then you will definitely want to do so. The more pieces you capture from your opponent is the less defense your opponent has in protecting his king. This will lead to better winning chances and checkmate.

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What Other Chess Piece Can Move Diagonally

All the pieces on the chess board can move diagonally with the expecption of the rook and knight. The pawns can move diagonally forward. The only time the pawns can move diagonally forward is when they are capturing a piece. Other than that, they can only move forward one square at a time, or 2 squares forward on their first move.

As we previously mentioned, the queen can move diagonally any number of squares as well as the bishop. The rook and knight are the only two pieces that cannot move diagonally.


The king is a powerful piece in chess and is the most important as checkmating the king ends the game. Knowing how to protect it and use it correctly will definitely improve your chess game. The king can move diagonally in chess and this gives it a lot of power and flexibility on the chessboard. Use the king wisely and you will be well on your way to becoming a better chess player.