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Bare king

A bare king is a chess term referring to a position where one side has only their king remaining on the board, with no other pieces or pawns to assist in the game.

Pronunciation: /bɛə kɪŋ/

Similar terms: lone king, solitary king, naked king, isolated king, helpless king, exposed king, vulnerable king, unprotected king, defenseless king

So, what exactly is a bare king?

In chess, a bare king is a situation where a player has only their king left on the board, without any other pieces or pawns to help defend or attack.

This leaves the king extremely vulnerable to checks and checkmate threats from the opponent’s remaining forces. A bare king is usually a sign of a significant material disadvantage and often leads to a quick defeat.

Why is a bare king important?

Recognizing a bare king scenario is crucial in chess, as it helps players assess the game’s outcome and make appropriate decisions.

When facing a bare king, the opposing player should focus on coordinating their pieces to deliver checkmate, while the player with the bare king should look for ways to delay the inevitable or hope for a stalemate.

Examples of bare king positions

  1. In an endgame where one player has a king and a rook, while the other has only a king, the player with the rook can easily checkmate the bare king.
  2. If a player blunders and loses all their pieces except for the king, they are left with a bare king and will likely face a swift defeat.

Famous examples of bare kings

In the 1996 Deep Blue vs. Garry Kasparov match, game 1 ended with Kasparov resigning in a position where he had a bare king against Deep Blue’s king, queen, and rook.

The computer had a clear path to checkmate, and Kasparov recognized the futility of continuing the game.

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