I am a methodical chess player (https://www.chess.com/forum/view/chess-players/types-of-chess-players) and I tend to work things out as I go along. I don't know any openings and tend to improvise the opening and the middlegame.

For a player like me, is opposite castling a good or a bad choice? I took a look at the tactics involved in such a game (https://www.chess.com/forum/view/livechess/attack-on-opposite-side-castled-king) and it seems that you need a high tempo to perform well. For someone who never follows a strict plan and improvises, is this an advantage or a disadvantage? Should I castle on the same side and aim for a slower game with less pawn involvement?

Say, for example, my queenside is under attack and the opponent has castled kingside. Castling kingside would reduce pressure and allow me to recollect my thoughts. Castling queenside would allow me to put pressure on the opponent's kingside and form a counterattack quickly. For each of these possibilities, the play style must change, but does castling opposite the opponent actually give me any advantage apart from aggresion? Possibly, it would allow my bishops to take a long diagonal against the opposing king, while same-side castling would require more knight action.


The short answer is that castling long, vs. short or staying in the centre depends on the concrete nature of the position. I would advise against 'castling into it [an attack]', and give this quote from Pillsbury:

Castle because you will or because you must, but not because you can

This means that if I gave a general answer of, say, 'always castle kingside, it's good', then that advice may not apply to many positions, and also goes against your player personality of working things out move-by-move.

If you could post some concrete positions into your question, then the community can comment on if/when castling queenside is appropriate.

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  • Are you sure about the quote? I remember it as "Castle if you will or if you must, but not because you can." – bof Jul 26 '16 at 9:24
  • so in summary, if i need to castle soon, i should consider which side gives a more beneficial outcome to the game overall, and not rely on "castling opposite gives you the upper hand" attitude. – Aric Jul 26 '16 at 9:29
  • @bof: I am actually going by memory at the moment, but will look it up when I get home. The sentiment is the same though. – user1108 Jul 26 '16 at 9:41
  • @AricFowler: yep, exactly. One thing that happens to many good intermediate players is that they get stuck with maxims that work some of the time, but not in the position they are looking at there and then. I found that I consistently misplaced my knight in the queen's indian defence because I had the 'knight on the rim is grim' idea in my head. Often White plays Ne1 in the queen's indian defence but I kept putting the knight on a non-optimal square. – user1108 Jul 26 '16 at 9:44
  • in that case, i need to work on forward thinking. At the moment i can only look 2 or 3 turns ahead and that is where i am going wrong when entering the middlegame. that was a useful answer. – Aric Jul 26 '16 at 9:55

For a player like you it is irrelevant. What matters is the actual position not your player 'type'.

You castle opposite because your king would be safer. Or because you will have an endgame edge due to king position in a game that is not going to be decided by an attack.

Less often you do it to gain a tempo. I have castled long to check the black king on the queens home square after an exchange. That brought the rook to a good file and moved my king to safety and united my rooks.

You might do it to bring another rook to the attack faster without having to move your king out of the way after castling on the side of your attack.

You might do it to facilitate an attack on the other king but that is also not a routine thing to do.

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