AskDefine | Define castling

Dictionary Definition

castling n : interchanging the positions of the king and a rook [syn: castle]

User Contributed Dictionary


Etymology 1

From cast + -ling.




  1. An abortion, or a premature birth.
    • 1646: Wherein notwithstanding, we should rather rely upon the urine in a castling’s bladder — Sir Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, Book II, ch 5
  2. The second or third swarm of bees which leaves a hive in a season.

Etymology 2

From castle/


  • /ˈkɑːsəlɪŋ/


  1. A move in which the king moves two squares towards a rook, and the rook moves to the other side of the king; the action of the verb to castle.
move in chess

Extensive Definition

Castling is a special move in the game of chess involving the king and either of the original rooks of the same color. Castling consists of moving the king two squares towards a rook, then moving the rook onto the square over which the king crossed. Castling is considered a king move.
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).
Castling is in most non-English speaking nations known as 'Rochieren/Rochada/Roque', while 'long/short castling' are used in those countries to refer to 'queenside/kingside castling'. Castling is a relatively recent European innovation in chess, dating from the 14th or 15th century. Thus, the Asian versions of chess do not have such a move.


Castling is permissible only if all of the following conditions hold:
  1. The king must never have moved;
  2. The chosen rook must never have moved;
  3. There must be no pieces between the king and the chosen rook;
  4. The king must not currently be in check.
  5. The king must not pass through squares that are under attack by enemy pieces.
  6. The king must not end up in check (true of any legal move).
  7. The king and the chosen rook must be on the same rank.
It is a common mistake to think that the requirements for castling are even more stringent than the above. To clarify:
  1. The king may have been in check previously, as long as it isn't in check at the time of castling.
  2. The rook involved in castling may be under attack.
  3. The rook involved in castling may move over an attacked square (a situation possible only with queenside castling).


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.
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.

Technical rules

Under the strict touch-move rules enforced in most tournaments, castling is considered a king move. A player who intends to castle but touches the rook first would be committed to make a rook move, and thus will not be permitted to perform the castling. Therefore, 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.
It is also required by the official rules that the entire move is completed using only a single hand. Neither of these rules is commonly enforced in casual play, nor commonly known by non-competitive players.

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.
In chess problems, castling is assumed to be allowed if it appears possible, unless it can be proved by retrograde analysis that either the king or chosen rook has previously moved.

Notable castlings

  • In this game between Yuri Averbakh and Cecil Purdy, Black castled queenside, and Averbakh pointed out that the rook passed over a square controlled by White, so 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?"
  • 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.
  • 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.

Variations throughout history

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 king could jump an additional square to b1 or h1 or to a2. 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".
In the Göttingen manuscript and a game published by Luis Ramirez de Lucena in 1498, castling consisted of two moves: first the rook and then the king.
The current version of castling was established in France in 1620 and England in 1640 .



castling in Bulgarian: Рокада
castling in Czech: Rošáda
castling in Welsh: Castellu (gwyddbwyll)
castling in Danish: Rokade
castling in German: Rochade
castling in Modern Greek (1453-): Ροκέ
castling in Spanish: Reglamento del ajedrez#El_enroque
castling in Esperanto: Aroko
castling in Faroese: Leypa í borg
castling in French: Roque (jeu d'échecs)
castling in Galician: Enroque
castling in Korean: 캐슬링
castling in Croatian: Rokada
castling in Italian: Arrocco
castling in Hebrew: הצרחה
castling in Latin: Adrochatio
castling in Dutch: Rokade
castling in Japanese: キャスリング
castling in Norwegian: Rokade
castling in Norwegian Nynorsk: Rokade
castling in Low German: Rockaad
castling in Polish: Roszada
castling in Portuguese: Roque (xadrez)
castling in Romanian: Rocadă
castling in Russian: Рокировка
castling in Slovak: Rošáda (šach)
castling in Slovenian: Rokada (šah)
castling in Serbian: Рокада (шах)
castling in Swedish: Rockad
castling in Vietnamese: Nhập thành
castling in Turkish: Rok (satranç)
castling in Ukrainian: Рокіровка
castling in Chinese: 王車易位
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