Rooks

The Rook (also called the “Castle”) is a powerful chess piece. It can move either horizontally or vertically any number of squares, but cannot move diagonally. However, it cannot jump over any pieces, neither enemy pieces nor your own pieces (only Knights can jump). Rooks can move both forwards and backwards.

Rook Value

Rooks are considered to be worth about 5 Pawns, which is more than a Knight or Bishop (3 pawns). The Queen is valued at 9 pawns, which means in theory that 2 Rooks are worth more than a Queen (in practice, it depends on the pawn positions; see Queen vs Two Rooks).

Rooks Develop Last

Beginners don’t tend to know what to do with Rooks, and tend to focus more on the Queen. Rooks should be kept at home, and usually stay on the starting rank until late in the game. Generally the idea with Rooks is to develop them not very far at all. Usually they are developed by bringing them together in the center files (where your King and Queen started). You do this by first developing all the Bishops and Knights, then moving the Queen out of the way, then castling (on either side), and then moving the Rooks to the center. When the Rooks are together, they protect each other, and are powerful.

Rook Tactics

Rooks are good at attacking from long-distance. Rooks definitely belong on open files. If possible, double your rooks on an open file.

Rooks are good at pinning, and many beginner games have a Queen lost by having it pinned against the King. Rooks are also good at skewers, and occasionally there are rook forks.

Rooks in the Endgame

The Rooks really become powerful once the Queens are gone, and there aren’t many other pieces around. Rook endings occur when players only have Kings, Rooks, and Pawns. If both players have 2 Rooks, they are called “Double Rook Endings”. Rook endings are very common, but are usually a mystery for beginners and even for intermediate players. Chess mastery requires a lot of attention paid to the theory of Rook endgames.

Related Chess Tactics

Read more about these related chess strategies: