Castling is an unusual chess tactic which enables the player to move two pieces at once. This particular move is actually a defense strategy which attempts to move the King to a safer area of the board (a corner), and also enables the Rook involved to move closer to the center where it can be better serve its purpose.
When castling was added as a defense move to the game of chess, it was developed to help balance the defense and offense of the players as well as to speed up the overall games. Castling was officially added as a move in the 1500’s.
How to Castle
Castling is accomplished by a two-fold move, performed all during the same turn. The first move involves the King. The King is moved two squares towards the Rook involved. The Rook, in turn, moves over to the square that the King crossed during its move, which is the square on the other side of the King.
As mentioned above, you’re accomplishing two things with castling. First, your King is now in a corner, well protected by pawns and a Rook. Secondly, your Rook is closer to the center where he can provide a better defense.
When a King Can’t Castle
Although castling is a simple move, there are several limitations to performing this move. For example, there are circumstances when you’re not allowed to castle, as listed below:
- When your King has already been moved.
- If your King is in check
- If your King has been moved through a square that is under attack
- If your King will be in check after the castling occurs
- If the Rook involved has been previously moved in the game
- If there are pieces standing in between your King and Rook
Any of the above situations disqualify castling as a move. So, as you can see, castling can be a rare strategy for many games.
When Castling is not Convenient
Castling may not be the right move for you if the possibility exists for your King to be trapped later. You’ll want to observe the positions of the pawns that will surround your King after castling. If these pawns have not been moved before, you might want to reconsider castling at the moment. At this particular point, castling could possibly set the stage for being trapped and attacked by your opponent.
If your opponent is able to eliminate a pawn, but your King is completely (and closely) surrounded by other pawns, you could end up in “check” with no place to go. Having your pawns at least one space out from your King, but still surrounding it, is a much safer environment for your King.
Using Your Opponent’s Castle to Your Advantage
When your opponent castles, you can sometimes use this to your advantage. Try to trap his King in the corner or put his King under pressure. Don’t be too aggressive, but just enough to put the pressure on. Keep an eye on the surrounding pawns of your opponent’s King, and look for an opening.
Castling can be performed using only a King and a Rook. No other pieces on the board (even the Queen) are allowed to castle.
When playing the game of chess, always look for opportunities to gain the advantage. Castling is just one of many strategic moves to help you reach a chess victory. By Candice Pardue.