How to Play King of the Hill Chess

Are you looking for a new twist to chess? The King of the Hill variant is what you’re looking for. It comes with a new objective that will change your usual chess gameplay.

In King of the Hill chess, aside from checkmating the opponent, you can win the game by marching your king to the central squares of the board. This objective allows for new strategies and opportunities that can challenge even professional players.

In this post, we discover how to play King of the Hills Chess, its rules and objectives, and some tips on how to win the game. Let’s jump right into it!

What Is King of the Hill Chess?

Unlike classic chess where you must only checkmate the opponent’s king, King of the Hill chess introduces a new challenge wherein you can win the game if you’re able to get your king to the center of the board.

The four central squares on the board, which are d4, d5, e4, and e5, represent the “hills” that your king needs to occupy. Once a king moves to these squares, it’s game over.

Why Play King of the Hill

King of the Hill chess adds a new level of challenge, wherein your strategy will focus on gaining control of the center of the board. This makes the game of chess more complex and dynamic.

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This new twist of adding a new objective pushes players to create new strategies and improve their planning and decision-making skills.

Especially for beginners who may find traditional chess to be long and slow-paced, King of the Hill can be a fun way to learn the rules and try out different moves.

Objective and Rules of King of the Hill Chess

Let’s take a look at the objective and rules of King of the Hill chess.

What Is the Objective of King of the Hill?

The objective of this chess variant is still similar to classic chess, but you can choose to end the game by successfully moving your king to the center of the board.

The first player who moves their king to the center wins the game.

The king piece has the most crucial role in the game. You must prepare a way for your king as it moves to the center. You must also watch out for the opponent’s pieces that may attack your king or block your king’s way.

The other pieces will serve as your support, which you can use to attack and defend. Use your other pieces to try and attack the opponent’s king or block it. Plan out your move and prevent the opponent from moving forward.


KOTH chess follows the same rules as traditional chess. You can also take advantage of these special moves in the game:


Castling is the only move that allows you to move two pieces simultaneously. You can use it to move your king away from the center in order to safeguard it from attacks.

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Promote Pawns

Pawn promotion is when one of your pawns reaches the farthest rank on the board, which is the first rank for black and the eighth rank for white. When this happens, you can “promote” your pawn to a queen, bishop, rook, or knight.

Promoting your pawns would mean that you would replace a weak piece (pawn) with a more powerful piece such as a queen. Promoting your pawn to a queen will significantly increase the force of your army, granting you more winning chances.


You can still win the game by checkmating the enemy king, instead of moving your king to the center of the board. Achieve checkmate by attacking your opponent’s king, leaving him with no legal moves to makes.

Strategies to Help You Win the Game

If you’re looking to improve your KOTH chess playing, there are several strategies that you can employ to give yourself the best chance of winning.

Here are some tips that can help you claim victory:

Protect the King

Since the game focuses on the king’s journey to the “hills,” always have the other pieces around to guard your king and move carefully so you won’t get checkmated by the opponents’ pieces.

You may have heard the phrase “offense is the best defense.” Well, that phrase is true in KOTH chess. You need to be aggressive in your play in order to put your opponent on the defensive end.

Just make sure to anticipate and react to the opponent’s moves correctly.

Gain Control of the Center

Gaining control of the center is a crucial concept in chess, as it allows you to establish a strong presence on the board and control key squares. Here are some tips on how to gain control of the center in chess:

  1. Open with central pawns: At the beginning of the game, try to open with pawns that control the center, such as the d4 and e4 pawns for White, or the d5 and e5 pawns for Black. This will help you establish a strong foothold in the center and limit your opponent’s options.
  2. Develop your pieces: Bring your knights and bishops out early and place them on squares that support your control of the center. Knights can be placed on f3 and c3 (or f6 and c6 for Black), and bishops can be developed to squares like d3, e2, d6, and e7. Developed pieces can exert pressure on the center and contribute to your control of the central squares.
  3. Control key central squares: Aim to place your pieces and pawns on key central squares like d4, d5, e4, and e5. This will help you control the central area of the board and limit your opponent’s mobility. Also, look for opportunities to challenge your opponent’s control of the center by attacking their central pawns or pieces.
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Wrapping Up

King of the Hill provides a new and exciting way to play chess. By introducing a new goal, you need to think about checkmating the king and occupying the center squares.

This challenge makes the game more complex and will make you rethink your regular chess strategies.

Whether you’re new to chess and have just started learning the rules or a seasoned player who is looking to try something new, you’ll surely enjoy playing King of the Hill.

So, the next time your friend invites you to play, give King of the Hill a try. You and your friend may find it to be your next favorite chess variant!