Delayed Castling

Delayed castling is the risky tactic of waiting a few moves before castling. It usually does not mean that you avoid castling! If you avoid castling, your King is likely to become stuck in the center, and come under a fatal attack.

The best way to delay castling is to have all the pieces developed on both sides of the King. The King can see empty space to both rooks. Then you can delay castling in order to decide which way to go, but you are less likely to get your King stuck in the center because safety is only a single move away. Your King is not safe if you have to develop the Queenside Knight and Bishop in order to castle queenside. Thatís 3 moves to safety, which can be an eternity for a King stuck on a central file.

Delayed castling can be helpful to decide which way to castle. You might want to wait to see which side your opponent castles on. If you want an exciting attacking game, castle on the opposite side to your opponent (and start launching a pawn storm). For a slower, positional game then castle on the same side.

You might also want to delay castling to cause your opponent to commit themselves and waste a few moves. Maybe they might start launching their queenside pawns, in which case you can castle to safety on the opposite side, and those pawns are somewhat wasted by your opponent.

Delayed castling is occasionally desirable in order to launch an early attack. This requires that your opponent has made some major defensive mistake. An interesting idea if your opponent has already castled is to launch an early attack, such as a pawn storm, while delaying castling. If your opponent only does defensive moves, then your attack is further advanced even after you castle. Or if your opponent assumes where youíll castle, and launches their own wing attack on the other side, you can sometimes move your King to the side where you are attacking, which leaves their moves on the other side of little attacking value. But be careful! Such early attacks often backfire, in which case your King in the center is in grave danger. Delayed castling is an advanced strategy that is rarely good for beginners.

Related Chess Tactics

Read more about these related chess strategies: