Castling Move Rules

Castling is a tricky move for beginners. The castling move is a single move, but it moves two pieces, the King and Rook.

The castling move involves a King moving 2-squares towards the Rook, and then Rook jumps over to sit next to the King on the other side of the King. This procedure is the same for kingside castling and queenside castling: the King moves 2-squares, the Rook jumps over to sit on the square immediately beside the King.

Castling Restrictions

There are many advanced restrictions on castling:

  • You cannot castle “out of check”. If you King is checked, you are not allowed to castle that move. (But you are still allowed to castle later, if you don’t move your King.)
  • You cannot “castle through check”.
  • You cannot “castle into check”.
  • You cannot castle if the King has ever previously moved in the game. A single move by the King permanently loses the “castling right” for castling on either side of the board. Don’t move your King!
  • You cannot castle if the King has previously moved, even if you move your King back to its starting square.
  • You cannot castle with a Rook if that Rook has ever previously moved in the game. But you can still castle with the other Rook, if it hasn’t moved. (And if the King hasn’t moved.)
  • There is no “un-castle” move.
  • You cannot move the King “1-square” of “3-squares” to castle. The King moves 2 squares, that’s the rule. The King ends up on g1 or g8 for Kingside castling, and c1 or c8 for Queenside castling. The rook arrives at f1 or f8 for Kingside castling, or d1/d8 for Queenside castling.

Which Side to Castle On?

Which way to castle, Kingside or Queenside? The rules of castling mean that both the King and Rook are a bit more centrally placed for Queenside castling (slightly risky but slight more attacking), and a bit safer being further in the corner for Kingside castling (but a bit more defensive). In a game, if you want to attack then Castle Opposite Sides, or if you want a slower positional game, then Castle on the Same Side as your opponent.

All of the advanced rules about castling take a while to digest. But they are very important as they give you various ways to stop your opponent from castling, which means you can attack their King in the center of the board.

Related Chess Rules Topics

Read more about these related chess rules, chess puzzles, and other chess tactics and strategies: