Do You Have To Say Check In Chess?

Two people playing check

In many games you have to say a certain word or phrase out loud at the right time befor you can win the game. This leads many starting out in chess to wonder if this is also the case when you put your opponent in check. But do you really have to say check in chess?

You do not have to say check in chess. When your opponent is in check he has to make a move bringing his King out of check. If this is not possible, then it is checkmate!

Let’s take a closer look into why this confuses many, and also some other questions that maybe have left you wondering.

Can You Win Chess Without Calling Check?

You can absolutely win without calling check. In fact, it does not matter if you call check or not, the person who is in check will have to make a move with their king (or take one of their opponent’s pieces) so that they are no longer in check. This means it makes absolutely no difference if you say check!

In this respect chess is a bit different from other games. Check merely describes a certain state that either player can be in when playing. So you do not have to call anything out loud when you put your opponent in chess.

It is a helpful term to use when describing chess games or chess positions – especially when learning chess.. It signifies that whoever is in check has to make a move to get out of check. This can be done in one of three ways:

  • Move your King out of check.
  • Capture the opponents piece or pawn giving check.
  • Block the check by placing a piece or pawn between your King and the attacker.

There is no need to say check. It would be redundant to say check anyway, since the player in check will have to react and it will be illegal to make a move completely ignoring the check.

Why Do You Say Check In Chess?

Saying check in chess is something that many do very early on when just learning chess. It seems natural and can even seem like a helpful thing to say out loud, in case your opponent had not noticed.

Another reason for people saying check in chess is quite simply that other games require you to say a certain word out loud at the end of a game to win. Just the fact that there is a threatening state in the game that requires your opponent to react and it seems like a threat to end the game makes it natural to think that it might be mandatory.

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It is only something you get to experience if you play casual players. Even beginner chess players at club level will know that you should not call out “check”. There is no harm in doing so, but you will not gain anything from it except maybe an overbearing smile.

Chess Resignation Vs Checkmate

A chess game can end in a few different ways. Only two of which results in a won game. You can win if you checkmate your opponent and you can win if your opponent resigns. Checkmate is when your opponent is in check and can’t escape. Resignation is if your opponent voluntarily gives up on the game.

The main difference between a checkmate and resignation is that a checkmate is by definition the end of the game. When you checkmate your opponent you have won the game, and the other way around. If your opponent is so far behind and realizes he has a losing position, he has the choice to resign. Resignation means that you forfeit the game.

It is mostly at higher levels you see resignations in chess games. At lower levels both players know that the other player might make a mistake or a blunder, as it is usually called in chess. For that reason players are more prone to cling to the slightest hope of victory, however hopeless a position might seem.

In games with higher rated players both players know that the opponent is unlikely to make such a mistake, so they will be likely to resign if the position seems lost and there are no prospects to make a comeback. Maybe they are too far behind in material or the opponents position is just that much better.

How To Prevent Check In Chess?

Most players are not comfortable when they are in check. It seems like a situation where the other player is callling the shots. That said there is no reason try to avoid being put in check. Many checks are harmless and some even help the other player improve their position.

You do, however, want to avoid forcing checks that limits your play or weakens your position. It all comes down to evaluating the position before making your moves. One important question you should always ask yourself before you make your move is – Can my opponent put me in a threatening check if I make this move.

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Many times a check will limit your own possible move to only a few or even just one. If you only have one move, this is called a forced move. These are the check you should prevent, because they are often the beginning of a tactic from your opponent.

If you can see that your move gives your opponent the opportunity to put you in a check that severely limits your options you should be extremely careful and probably even try to find a better move. After all we want to be the ones dictating how the game goes.

Can You Win Chess Without Checkmate?

When people think about how to win a game of chess the first thing that comes to mind is checkmate. This it not the only way to win a chess game, though. If your opponent resigns, you win. You can also win if your opponent runs out of time. You can even win if the other player makes an illegal move.


As you can see there are actually quite a few ways to win a chess game. Generally your goal should always be to play better than you opponent in order to eventually deliver the winning checkmate. If you play well enough compared to your opponent this could also lead to you winning by resignation. If you get far enough ahead in material you could very well get your opponent to resign.

Winning because your opponent runs out of time is something that mostly happens in chess game formats with limited time. In classical games there should be plenty of time. In faster games like speed chess, blitz or bullet games it is more likely that one of the players will struggle with the time limit.

Actually so-called bullet games will more often than not end in a time scramble with player making pre-moves, which is allowed in online games. A bullet chess is a format where each players has less than 3 minutes on the clock to start the game. This basically guarantees fast paced action, where most moves has to be made by routine and intuition. There is no time for thorough analysis.

Do You Have To Say Checkmate In Chess?

When either player in a chess game is checkmated the game is over. You do not have to say “checkmate”. Play just ends right there. In casual games online many do say it anyway. But it is not necessary.

This goes back to the original point of this article. Many say check and checkmate, but there is no need for it. Mostly it is also beginners who feel the need to say check or checkmate. As you start playing in a club that will probably be the last time you hear these terms called out loud.

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If you say check or checkmate yourself don’t worry. There is no rules against it and it is a very human thing to feel the need. You feel like you are in a dominant position, and want to triumphantly call out “chess!”.

How To Avoid Checkmate In Chess?

It goes without saying that you want to avoid checkmate at all costs. But how exactly do we do that? Since checkmating your opponent is the very goal of chess, you should simply play your best game if you want to avoid checkmate.

What does this mean in plain terms? It is easy to just say that you should play your best. So to be more specific here is a list of things to always keep in mind.

  • Play only moves in the opening that you know or moves that follow the basic principles of the opening.
  • Before each move keep in mind that your opponent has plans of his own. Think about your opponents best countermove and try to think a few moves ahead this way.
  • Be specifically on the lookout for forcing moves if you want to avoid sudden checkmate. This means you should be watching out for possible checks or threats to your major pieces that your opponent might throw at you, if you make a certain move.

With these three pieces of advice in mind you will be in a good position to avoid checkmate. Practice getting in the habit of always thinking about what your opponents best move will be on his next move. This is much better for your development as a chess player than trying to setup traps that rely on your opponents mistakes to make them work.

Can You Move The King Without Check?

You can certainly move your King without it being in check. As long as the square is empty and there is no opponent controlling the square, you can always move your King one square in any direction.

If you are in check, you have to get out of the check, of course. Does this mean that you have to move your King if you are in check? Not quite. As we have seen earlier in this article there are three ways to get out of check. One is, of course, to simply move your King. But you can also block the check with a pawn or a piece or capture to piece giving check.

If there is no way to get out of check, then it is checkmate – or as some say: Check and Mate.

I hope this article has answered wether you have to say check in chess and much more in an interesting way. Get out there and play some chess. Remember that you don’t have to check in chess, but it is ok to do so anyway.

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