I have learned about a move called castling, where you move the castle and the king to switch. Can anybody explain the rules? Thanks.


Castling is done by moving the King two squares towards the Rook, and then placing the Rook on the square that the King skipped over. In order to castle, all of the following must be true.

  • It's your turn.
  • The squares between your King and your Rook are all unoccupied.
  • You have not yet moved your King.
  • You have not yet moved the Rook that you are using to castle.
  • You are not currently in check.
  • You will not end up in check.
  • The square that your King passes through must not be under attack by an enemy piece (in other words, your King will not pass through check).
  • 4
    You must move your king first and then your rook (you cannot touch your rook first); interestingly, your rook can be attacked when you castle. – JP Alioto Aug 4 '13 at 4:30
  • 1
    @SufyanNaeem those are the exact official chess rules. It is not uncommon for beginners to think the rules are weird, though. As a comparison, I have seen some beginners "winning" games by capturing the opponent's king (because the opponent wasn't paying attention), but this is also impossible. If this happened, they weren't truly playing official chess, since such move would never be possible by the official rules. Of course, nothing stops you from playing a "custom chess" in which such things are allowed (and considered tricks), but for the official international chess, these are the rules. – Pedro A Jan 3 '16 at 21:28
  • 2
    @SufyanNaeem I will be happy to further explain any of your doubts, but first let me point out something. Your doubts can be separated in two parts. The first is what are the rules. The second is why the rules are what they are. Let me clarify the what first, and after that we may consider the why. The official chess is governed by an organization called FIDE, and they state the rules. This answer from Charles Yu correctly quotes FIDE's rules on castling. Trying to castle without following these rules is called an illegal move, and can't be played... – Pedro A Jan 4 '16 at 21:47
  • 1
    @SufyanNaeem ... Another example of illegal move is what you asked in your previous comment: moving your king in a way that it ends up in check. Other examples are: moving your king as if it was a bishop; moving a pawn backwards; and so on. They may differ on "complexity" but they are all illegal moves. If a player accidentaly plays an illegal move, the move must be undone and a correct move must be played instead. – Pedro A Jan 4 '16 at 21:51
  • 1
    @SufyanNaeem As for the why, I agree that the rules for castling are kinda "obscure", in some sense. You might ask "where did FIDE take this from?". I don't have a precise answer to this, but in my opinion, these rules are excellent. They make the game very strategic - castling looks like an excellent move (and it usually is), maybe these rules try to "compensate" that, making it harder to castle. I don't know how they made up those rules, but I really like them. As you advance in chess, I believe you will start feeling the same way I do about it. – Pedro A Jan 4 '16 at 21:56

Here is a comprehensive video.

  • 3
    Thank you for your answer! Answers consisting only of external links are discouraged, as the links can become broken. Try modifying your answer to stand alone, without relying on the link. – Lily Chung Aug 4 '13 at 4:10

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.