Consider this Chess960 game.

[FEN "rnkqbbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNKQBBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]

1. d4 Na6 2. e4 Nb8 3. Ba5 Na6 4. Bb5 Nb8
5. Qh5 Na6 6. Nh3 Nb8 7. Na3 Na6 8. O-O-O Nb8
9. Rd3 Na6

Can White's next move be to castle h-side? I can see an argument both ways: either yes, because the king never left c1, or no, because castling counts as a king move.


Excellent question. The rules state that this is not possible. Castling can only be done once.

This is explicitly mentioned under Guidelines II. Chess960 Rules:

II.3.1 Chess960 allows each player to castle once per game, a move by potentially both the king and rook in a single move. [...]

Specifically, castling (even if the king doesn't move) should still be done by touching the king before moving the rook. You can do this several ways but the standard recommendation is to move the king off the board, move the rook to the new location, and move the king back to the new position (which can be the original c1 square).

II. When castling on a physical board with a human player, it is recommended that the king be moved outside the playing surface next to his final position, the rook then be moved from its starting position to its final position, and then the king be placed on his final square.
II. To avoid any misunderstanding, it may be useful to state "I am about to castle" before castling.

  • 'Chess960 allows each player to castle once per game' --> HAHAHAHA i can't believe the castling laws wouldn't say anything like the king is considered to have moved after castling s.t. they'd have to write down another rule. i was expecting that this would be somehow resolved by a careful analysis of the standard chess rules. trolololol. (or maybe they're just being explicit...like this not really a 'rule' but more like a 'ruling'...in w/c case never mind the laugh)
    – BCLC
    Apr 19 at 14:26
  • some weird wording: 'Chess960 allows each player to castle once per game' --> it doesn't say 'exactly once' ? arguably, this could be read as 'at least once'. but of course what's meant is exactly once
    – BCLC
    Apr 19 at 14:26

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