Castling is a special move in the game of chess involving the king and either of the original rooks of the same color. It is the only move in chess (leaving aside promotion) in which a player moves two pieces at the same time. Castling consists of moving the king two squares towards a rook on the player's first rank, then moving the rook onto the square over which the king crossed. Castling can only be done if the king has never moved, the rook involved has never moved, the squares between the king and the rook involved are not occupied, the king is not in check, and the king does not cross over or end on a square in which it would be in check. Castling is one of the rules of chess and is technically a king move (Hooper & Whyld 1992:71).
The notation for castling, in both the descriptive and the algebraic systems, is 0-0 with the kingside rook and 0-0-0 with the queenside rook. (In PGN, O-O and O-O-O are used instead.) Castling on the kingside is sometimes called castling short and castling on the queenside is called castling long; the difference being based on whether the rook moves a short distance (two squares) or a long distance (three squares) (Hooper & Whyld 1992).
Castling is in most European languages other than English known as 'rochieren/rochada/roque/arrocco' or some other derivative of the same root (from which also the English word 'rook' is derived), while the local adjectives meaning 'long' and 'short' are used in those countries to refer to 'queenside/kingside castling'. Castling was added to European chess in the 14th or 15th century and did not develop into its present form until the 17th century. The Asian versions of chess do not have such a move.
- The king has not previously moved.
- The chosen rook has not previously moved.
- There are no pieces between the king and the chosen rook.
- The king is not currently in check.
- The king does not pass through a square that is under attack by enemy pieces.
- The king does not end up in check (true of any legal move).
- The king and the chosen rook are on the same rank.
Conditions 4 through 6 may be summarized with the more memorable phrase "One cannot castle out of, through, or into check."
It is a common mistake to think that the requirements for castling are even more stringent than the above. To clarify:
- The king may have been in check previously, as long as it is not in check at the time of castling.
- The rook involved in castling may be under attack.
- In queenside castling, the square next to the rook involved may be under attack. (Kingside castling is not legally possible when the square next to the rook involved is under attack: Because only two squares separate the king and the king's rook, the king would be moved to that square and thereby be placed in check.)
Castling is an important goal in the early part of a game, because it serves two valuable purposes: it moves the king into a safer position away from the center of the board, and it moves the rook to a more active position in the center of the board (it is even possible to checkmate with castling).
The choice as to which side to castle often hinges on an assessment of the trade-off between king safety and activity of the rook. Kingside castling is generally slightly safer, because the king ends up closer to the edge of the board and all the pawns on the castled side are defended by the king. In queenside castling, the king is placed closer to the center and the pawn on the a-file is undefended; the king is thus often moved to the b-file to defend the a-pawn and to move the king away from the center of the board. In addition, queenside castling requires moving the queen; therefore, it may take slightly longer to achieve than kingside castling. On the other hand, queenside castling places the rook more effectively – on the central d-file. It is often immediately active, whereas with kingside castling a tempo may be required to move the rook to a more effective square.
It is common for both players to castle kingside, and rare for both players to castle queenside. If one player castles kingside and the other queenside, it is called opposite castling. Castling on opposite sides usually results in a fierce fight as both players' pawns are free to advance to attack the opposing king's castled position without exposing the player's own castled king. An example is the Dragon Variation of the Sicilian Defence.
If the king is forced to move before it has the opportunity to castle, the player may still wish to maneuver the king towards the edge of the board and the corresponding rook towards the center. When a player takes three or four moves to accomplish what castling would have accomplished in one move, it is sometimes called artificial castling, or castling by hand.
Under the strict touch-move rules enforced in most tournaments, castling is considered a king move. But under current US Chess Federation rules, a player who intends to castle and touches the rook first would suffer no penalty, and would be permitted to perform castling, provided castling is legal in the position. Still, the correct way to castle is to first move the king. As usual, the player's mind may change between all legal destination squares for the king until it is released. When the two-square king move is completed, however, the player has formally chosen to castle (if it is legal), and the rook must be moved accordingly. A player who performs a forbidden castling must return the king and the rook to their original places and then move the king, if there is another legal king move, including castling on the other side. If there is no legal king move, the touch-move rule does not apply to the rook (Just & Burg 2003:13–14,17–18,23).
It is also required by the official rules that the entire move be completed using only a single hand. Neither of these rules is commonly enforced in casual play, nor commonly known by non-competitive players (Just & Burg 2003:13–14,17–18,23).
Chess variants and problems
Some chess variants, for example Chess960, have modified castling rules to handle modified starting positions. Castling can also be adapted to large chess variants, like Capablanca chess, which is played on 10x8 board.
Notable examplesAverbakh vs. Purdy, 1960
- In this game between Yuri Averbakh and Cecil Purdy, Black castled queenside. Averbakh pointed out that the rook passed over a square controlled by White and thought it was illegal. Purdy proved that the castling was legal since this applies only to the king, to which Averbakh replied "Only the king? Not the rook?" (Evans 1970:38–39), (Lombardy & Daniels 1975:188).
- Viktor Korchnoi, in his 1974 Candidates final match with Anatoly Karpov, famously asked the arbiter if castling was legal when the castling rook was under attack. The answer was in the affirmative, and Korchnoi ended up winning the game.
- Three castlings occurred in the game between Wolfgang Heidenfeld and Nick Kerins, in Dublin in 1973. Of course, the third one (the second one by White) was illegal. See this link, "Greatest number of castlings". The game is as follows:
- 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Be3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Nf3 Qb6 8. Qd2 c4 9. Be2 Na5 10. 0-0 f5 11. Ng5 Be7 12. g4 Bxg5 13. fxg5 Nf8 14. gxf5 exf5 15. Bf3 Be6 16. Qg2 0-0-0 17. Na3 Ng6 18. Qd2 f4 19. Bf2 Bh3 20. Rfb1 Bf5 21. Nc2 h6 22. gxh6 Rxh6 23. Nb4 Qe6 24. Qe2 Ne7 25. b3 Qg6+ 26. Kf1 Bxb1 27. bxc4 dxc4 28. Qb2 Bd3+ 29. Ke1 Be4 30. Qe2 Bxf3 31. Qxf3 Rxh2 32. d5 Qf5 33. 0-0-0 Rh3 34. Qe2 Rxc3+ 35. Kb2 Rh3 36. d6 Nec6 37. Nxc6 Nxc6 38. e6 Qe5+ 39. Qxe5 Nxe5 40. d7+ Nxd7 0–1
- Tim Krabbé composed a joke chess problem containing vertical castling (king on e1, promoted rook on e8). The loophole in the definition of castling upon which this problem was based was removed by the new requirement that the castling rook must occupy the same rank as the king.
Lasker gameEd. Lasker vs. Thomas, 1912
In this game between Edward Lasker and Sir George Thomas (London 1912), Black had just played 17... Kg1. White could have checkmated by 18. 0-0-0# but instead played 18. Kd2#. (See Edward Lasker#Notable games.)
Prins versus DayPrins vs. Day, 1968
Castling has its roots in the "king's leap". There were two forms of the leap: (1) the king could move once like a knight, and (2) the king could move two squares on his first move. The knight-move could be used early in the game to get the king to safety or later in the game to escape a threat. This second form was used in Europe as early as the 13th Century. In North Africa, the king was moved to a safe square by a two-step procedure: (1) the king moved to the second rank and (2) the rook moved to the king's original square and the king moved to the rook's original square (Davidson 1949:48).
Before the bishop and queen acquired their current moves in the 16th Century they were weak pieces and the king was relatively safe in the middle of the board. When the bishop and queen got their current moves they became very powerful and the king was no longer safe on its original square since it can be attacked from a distance and from both sides. Castling was added to allow the king to get to a safer location and to allow rooks to get into the game earlier (Davidson 1949:16).
The rule of castling has varied by location and time. In medieval England, Spain, and France, the white king was allowed to jump to c1, c2, d3, e3, f3, or g1, if no capture was made, the king was not in check, and did not move over check. (The black king could move similarly.) In Lombardy, the white king could jump an additional square to b1 or h1 or to a2 (and equivalent squares for the black king). Later in Germany and Italy, the king move was combined with a pawn move.
In Rome from the early 17th century until the late 19th century, the rook could be placed on any square up to and including the king's square, and the king could be moved to any square on the other side of the rook. This was called "free castling".
The current version of castling was established in France in 1620 and England in 1640 (Sunnucks 1970:66).
In the 1811 edition of his chess treatise, Johann Allgaier introduced the 0-0 symbol. He differentiated between "0-0r" (r=right) and "0-0l" (l=left). The 0-0-0 symbol for queenside castling was added in 1837 by Aaron Alexandre. The practice was then accepted in the first edition (1843) of the Handbuch des Schachspiels.
- Outline of chess: Rules of chess
- Artificial castling
- Chess notation
- Rules of chess
- ^ "Laws of Chess". FIDE. http://www.fide.com/fide/handbook?id=124&view=article. (Castling is in rule 3.8)
- ^ http://www.fide.com/fide/handbook.html?id=124&view=article
- ^ Without this additional restriction, which was added to the FIDE rules in 1972, it would be possible to promote a pawn on the e file to a rook and then castle vertically across the board (as long as the other conditions are met). This way of castling was "discovered" by Max Pam and used by Tim Krabbé in a chess puzzle before the rules were amended to disallow it. See Chess Curiosities by Krabbé, see also de:Pam-Krabbé-Rochade for the diagrams online.
- ^ Averbakh vs. Purdy
- ^ Korchnoi vs. Karpov
- ^ Ed. Lasker vs. Thomas, London 1912
- ^ Edward Lasker, Chess for Fun and Chess for Blood, Dover Publications, 1962, p. 120.
- ^ Prins vs. Day
- ^ Stefan Bücker: "Was bedeutet 0-0?" (What does 0-0 mean?), in: Kaissiber, No. 18, 2002, p.70–71
- Davidson, Henry (1949), A Short History of Chess, McKay, ISBN 0-679-14550-8 (1981 paperback)
- Evans, Larry (1970), Chess Catechism, Simon and Schuster, ISBN 0-671-20491-2
- Hooper, David; Whyld, Kenneth (1992), "castling", The Oxford Companion to Chess (2nd ed.), Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-280049-3
- Just, Tim; Burg, Daniel B. (2003), U.S. Chess Federation's Official Rules of Chess (5th ed.), McKay, ISBN 0-8129-3559-4
- Lombardy, William; Daniels, David (1975), Chess Panorama, Chilton, ISBN 0-8019-6078-9
- Schiller, Eric (2003), Official Rules of Chess (2nd ed.), Cardoza Publishing, ISBN 978-1-58042-092-1
- Sunnucks, Anne (1970), "castling", The Encyclopaedia of Chess, St. Martins Press, ISBN 978-0709146971
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