To Castle or not to Castle

To Castle or not to Castle

Sep 15, 2016, 12:22 PM |

As we all know castling is the only move in chess where two pieces can move at the same time. There are two types of castling kingside ( denoted by 0-0) and queenside ( denoted by 0-0-0). They are also called castling short and castling long respectively. However way the player may choose to castle, the basic rules are still the same

1. No pieces between the king and castling side rook

2. The king must not be in check ( An interesting fact that the castling rook may be in attack !)

3. The king must not pass through any square attacked by the opponent or end up in check

4. The king and castling rook have not been moved previously


Now the question comes whether to castle king side or queen side. Opinions are divided on this one. Generally it depends on match situation but there are some general themes like if black plays early g6 like in sicillian dragon or modern defence, white generally castle queenside and push the king side pawns towards black king side . In case of sicillian dragon this type of attack is known as the yugoslav attack and this has cause the decrease of popularity of the dragon at the top level of play in favor of Najdorf .

Now castling is generally beneficial and beginners are taught to castle as soon as possible( within move 10) and denying the opponent the castling is considered a triumph in itself.

Benefits of early castling-

1. Take the king to a corner away from center where it can be attacked from all sides

2.Connects the rooks

There are really no drawbacks of castling but sometime the opponent can focus all its forces towards the king and may provide tactical opportunities like the greek gift sac on h7 etc


In the games of masters we often see delayed or even complete lack of castling especially if the queens have been exchanged early ( viz in berlin system of ruy lopez). Those games gives us temptations to play without castling. I think that is a mistake .Though good amateur players may spot some tactics like a GM but when it comes to positional understanding and strategies, we are simply no match. Keeping the king at the center of the board can bring only trouble to us.King should remain tucked in the corner until end game begins.

I recently played a 3/2 blitz game on against an opponent who was once rated in mid 1900! He chose not to castle and began an unplanned attack against my king. It did not end well for him!

The game is presented below for your consideration.......