Every chess player understands, The King is invaluable!
Besides knowing that, beginners in chess try but aren’t able to save their King from getting checkmated early!
Why? Because they didn’t know about castling.
Castling is a key opening step in the Game Of Chess as the King is not safe in the centre where all the action/attack takes place…
If you are a beginner to chess, you might wonder – What is Castling? and How to castle in chess?
Chess Castling – Definition
Castling, a special move in chess is the only time where you can move 2 pieces in the same move/turn, under certain conditions!
Castling only involves 2 pieces: The King and The Rook. It is only allowed once per game for each player.
Since then, castling has become one of the most important moves in chess! It helps the players to ensure the safety of their king as well as free their side rook in a single move!
Though there are certain conditions in order to do castling, which we have covered in this article.
NOW, let’s understand how to castle in chess –
How to Castle in Chess?
Castling is done by moving The King 2 squares either to his left or right side & The Rook jumps over and sits next to him.
Remember, to do castling, you need to pick up the King first – not the Rook.
Quick Tip – After castling, the king ends up to the same square as it was originally.
There are 2 types of castling:
- King-side Castling – Where the King castles with the nearest Rook (King-side rook)
- Queen-side Castling – Where the King castles with the faraway Rook (queen-side rook)
Eligibility – 5 Conditions for Castling
Please note that to do Castling, you need to follow/comply with these 5 rules –
- Your King has not moved before
- Your chosen Rook has not moved before
- No pieces between the King and Rook
- Your King is not in check
- Your King should not pass through or end up in check
Rule 1. The King has not moved before
You are not eligible for Castling if you have moved your King before.
In the above position, the white King knowingly or unknowingly has moved to e2. Doing this, the white King has now forfeited/lost the right to castle (in this game)
Note: Even if the player puts the white King back to its original square – e1, he is not allowed to castle now!
Rule 2. The chosen Rook has not moved before
As mentioned above, you can castle with the King-side rook or the Queen-side rook.
Whichever side of rook you choose to castle with, should not be moved before. The Rook has to be on its starting point for castling.
In the above image, the King-side Rook of white has been moved to g1.
Due to which the white king can’t castle King-side now but he can castle Queen-side (as the King and Rook haven’t moved from their original position)
Rule 3. No pieces between the King and Rook –
As simple as it sounds: There should not be any piece between the King and the Rook which the player chooses to castle with.
Ex – White can’t castle queen-side as the bishop is between them. Similarly, Black can’t castle king-side as the knight is between the King & the Rook.
Rule 4. The king is not in check –
You are not allowed to castle out of check: If your King is in check, you can’t castle!
You first need to get your King out of check without moving the King itself, then only you can think about castling!
As you can see, the white King was about to castle King-side but the opponent stops it by giving a check from his dark-squared bishop on b4.
So, if the white player wants to castle King-side, he has to get rid of the check first…
NOW, the last but not least –
Rule 5. The King should not pass through check or end up in check
In castling, the King moves 2 squares either left or right…
This rule states that these 2 squares next to the King shouldn’t be under attack by any of the opponent pieces –
I have highlighted the next 2 squares: the safe squares are marked in green and the squares under attack are in red.
Pass through check – The white king can’t castle King-side as the f1 square next to him is under attack by the Bishop sitting on a6.
End-up in check – The black king can’t castle king-side too, as the g8 square is under attack from the knight on h6.
Interestingly, they both can castle Queen-side but neither of them can castle King-side!
To sum it up, the King should not pass through check or end up in check, if they want to castle.
Conclusion – Benefits Of Castling
Castling is a very important move in the game of chess!
Castling should be done by both players as early as possible. Here’s why –
- Great way to save your King from getting checkmated
- Activates the side Rook by bringing it into the game
Not only, you can save your King from getting checkmated early but also activate your side Rook in a single move, i.e. Castling!
Note: Before you castle, look for the potential tactics or sacrifices you can run into. Sometimes, your King can be safer in the centre instead of the corner.
With that, our definitive guide to chess castling concludes!
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