What happens in chess when you don’t say check?

don't say check

Have you ever experienced not saying check in a chess game? Or have you played with opponent who does not say check?

My daughter has this smile whenever she gets me under check…   She never really says that my King is under check, do you think it’s rude? I don’t mind actually, because sometimes I do the same… 🙂  

There is some debate about saying check during games – do you just keep quiet during a game? Do you really need to tell check or not?  

I usually announce check during games with my friends and family… Let me share with you what I’ve found out that gave me a better perspective about saying “check or checkmate” during chess games.

What is going to happen in a chess game when you don’t say check?

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It really depends on what type of chess game you are playing, if you are on a chess tournament I would say that you don’t need to announce check to your opponent, but it’s only right to give a penalty for an illegal move or even losing a game for an illegal move (King under check).

If we are just playing with our friends and families, I would suggest you better set the rule first about saying check, because only then we can impose some guidelines to follow if regulations are violated.  

The main thing is this could vary for every type of chess games you play.   If you have any doubt, you should ask what the rules are first…  

Because rules are always nice to have even if you are just playing friendly games, because if you were to play with a much stricter chess game, then you already have a basic foundation of following tournament type rules.   It’s basically for your advantage of winning a chess game.

Also read: Can you get out of check by castling?

How do you win a chess game if you don’t say anything (like a check)?

I see this as a valid follow-up question, what do you think?! 🙂   For a family-friendly chess game, we would usually keep on saying check to them…   But…  

For chess tournaments, you are not required to say anything, besides asking for a draw or telling “I adjust” (if you want to adjust your chess pieces).  

So, how do you win a chess game if you don’t say anything – the simple answer is if your opponent’s King has nowhere to move. The primary goal of a chess game is to trap your opponent’s King. If the King can’t move anymore, then the game is over. You don’t need to say anything to win.  

The term used to a trapped King is checkmate.

What is the difference between check and checkmate?

If you don’t know what check and checkmate mean…   Then I have a read an excellent explanation below on what is the difference of check and checkmate in a chess game.  

Check means that your opponent’s King is under attacked by your chess piece (except your King) and it has to be protected or move to a safer square. Checkmate, however, means that the King can no longer escape the attack and there’s no more safe square or protection available. That only means the chess game is over.  

So, now you know what to say when someone asks you about the difference of check and checkmate in a game of chess. 🙂

When is it necessary to say check or checkmate in a chess game?

I’ve read a lot of chess experts saying that you don’t have to announce check or checkmate in a chess game…so, let me just say it here.  

It is only necessary to say check or checkmate in a chess game if you are playing with your friends or family. If you are just teaching someone chess ( just like when I’m teaching my daughter chess) or you can say check after waiting for your opponent to move. Otherwise playing in a high competition level, announcing check or checkmate is not necessary.  

There are some real or actual problems when announcing check or checkmate to your opponent, especially in tournaments…

You may also be interested in reading the importance of chess clock.

Three actual problems when you announce check or checkmate to your opponent

You can make chess as fun as you want or as a super serious game to play…   Depending on where you are or who you are playing with, it’s better to know some of the actual problems that can occur when you say check or checkmate to your opponent.  

  1. Announcing check can interrupt your opponent’s concentration with the game
  2. Announcing check or checkmate can disturb another chess player
  3. Announcing check or checkmate can be considered rude to your opponent

Announcing check can interrupt your opponent’s concentration with the game, I don’t have an issue about this myself, but for some chess players, if you keep on hearing “check” during a game, it somehow interrupts your strategic thinking, especially if it’s a really serious game.   

Announcing check or checkmate can disturb another chess player, a tournament game is generally quiet and announcing checks or checkmate will make you look like you are showing off. If one day you’ll be playing in chess tournaments, consider other chess players around you and as much as possible don’t announce “check” or “checkmate” during a game. 🙂  

Announcing check or checkmate can be considered rude to your opponent, now here’s what I think is a big issue…Some chess players especially the high rated chess players, they find it insulting if you try to announce “check” every time during a game. They see it rude because as top-rated players they know if their King is under check or not, they know if they are checkmate or not.    

This is true in a Grandmaster level of chess games or even for high rated chess players, and you will often find that they resign even without getting their King checkmate- it’s because they understood there is no chance of winning and as a respect to their opponent’s excellent gameplay.    

You are supposed to say something even after winning a game of chess. Want to know what?

So, what do you say when you win a game of chess? 😉

I just said that we need not say anything right?! lol!   But after a game, what do you say to your opponent?

Here’s what I do…   I often keep quiet or shake my opponent’s hand when I win or even after losing a chess game...  

But, the best way to end a game is to just acknowledge your opponent by saying “good game” or even saying “thanks for a nice game”…Chess is a tough game for those who lose they just want to get back in the game almost instantly, so you need to show respect every time you win and even give them a chance to play with one or two more times if possible.  

If you can only play one time and you don’t want to make your opponent feel bad after losing, it’s better to wait for your opponent to say something or be the first one to offer a shaking hand after a great game.

Quick summary

I do feel that this post is a bit strange because we are talking about what to say in a chess game…   Who would be looking to learn about what to say in a chess game? 🙂  

To be honest, I did not even have the slightest idea that announcing checks can be disrespectful in a chess game… yeah, this is what the article is all about…  

Just to give you a quick summary about what you’ve learned.

  • You’ve learned that you don’t need to announce check or checkmate
  • You’ve discovered the difference of check and checkmate
  • When it is necessary to announce check or checkmate to your opponent
  • The different problems about declaring check or checkmate during a game

If you haven’t read the whole article yet, I would suggest you check the entire post and learn more about if it’s even ok to say check during a game.

A bit of history

I was surprised when I found out that there was a time in early chess games that you can capture the King and end the game just like that. (Check out early Sanskrit chess in Wikipedia)   That is just an excellent example of not saying anything to your opponent… grab your opponent’s King and end it! Haha!  

Later, the idea of giving a warning to your opponent was implemented, followed by checkmate as a way to win a game.   I like the way things are with our current chess rules… 🙂

Want to know which countries rule chess? (click the link to find out) 

Wrapping Up

You learn when it’s proper to say check or when it’s not right to announce check in a chess game.  

I hope you do implement this in your chess games, and one of the most critical points in this article is that we need to show respect no matter what, even when you get annoyed hearing “check” or “checkmate”…lol!  
I know you always give respect to your opponent by not being a show-off or by not shouting checkmate… 🙂   But…   Sometimes when we underestimate our opponent, we lose our cool, and it affects your game. Always be polite no matter what the outcome of the game.

A good chess player is well composed, follows the rule, and still wish other chess players good luck in every game.   I hope you find this article useful in your next chess game! Have fun learning!

You may also be interested to check out our chess recommendations.

Gary Flores

Hi there! I'm a dad with kids who loves to learn how to play chess by learning online - also, this is my way of refreshing my knowledge about this game of tactics & strategy. I created chessdelights.com to inspire people who are also learning, re-learning or teaching their kids the game of chess.

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