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How to evaluate progress in the king-safety objective

In this lesson you will see how you can evaluate, compare and estimate the safety of the respective kings. It requires you to compare mainly 3 things:

  1. Did the respective kings castle?
  2. What is the condition of the pawn shield (if the pawns in front of the king move they generally weaken the squares in that area)
  3. Compare the amount of defenders vs. attackers near your king

The following 3 examples will make it clear:

Example 1

The first example shows a position from black’s point of view. Who has the safer king?

king-safety evaluation 1
  • White’s king is already vulnerable since he hasn’t castled yet.
  • Black’s pawn shield is perfect and doesn’t offer any holes for the white pieces to enter.
  • Black has more defenders than white’s attackers near his king. The white king on the other hand can become a target to black’s pieces if he doesn’t castle as soon as possible.

By comparing the 3 most important elements of king-safety we can see that black’s king is safer, mainly due to the fact that black has castled whilst white didn’t.

Example 2

Who has the safer king here?

king-safety evaluation 2
  • Both players already castled their kings.
  • The pawn shield’s in front of the respective king’s are still intact.
  • Both kings have adequate protection from their pieces.

In this case we can conclude that both kings are quite safe and won’t affect the outcome of our evaluation in any way.

Example 3

Who has the safer king?

king-safety evaluation 3
  • White hasn’t castled but since the center is completely blocked the king is in fact safer where he is now!
  • The black pawn-shield has been compromised and the white pieces can use the weakened squares as entry points for his pieces to attack the area around black’s king.
  • Black’s pieces are trying hard to protect the king, however, white will play h2-h4 followed by h4xg5 to open up the h-file.

We can conclude that white’s king is safer than black’s king, mainly because the black pieces don’t have significant entry-points that lead towards white’s king (white has enough control in the center to prevent that) whereas white can aim to open up the h-file for his rooks.

Next Lesson – How to evaluate progress in the pawn-structure objective

Previous Lesson – How to evaluate progress in the center-control objective

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