I really enjoy opposite-side castling positions where I'm able to launch pawn storms and put my opponent under pressure. For this reason, I actually enjoy the Exchange French as Black / I want to take up the Scandinavian Defense, since in both of those openings Black commonly castles queenside while White castles kingside. In what other openings does this usually happen?

(This question was edited; before I was asking about openings that lead to opposite-side castling in general, but in e.g. the Sicilian Dragon when Black castles kingside, White can keep it boring and castle kingside as well. By contrast, this doesn't happen as often when you castle queenside.)

  • This is probably a long list. This happens in variations from a lot of openings, including the Vienna. But it all depends on what the opponent plays. Apr 21, 2021 at 14:34
  • Does this answer your question - chess.stackexchange.com/questions/9162/openings-for-pawn-storms ?
    – Brian Towers
    Apr 21, 2021 at 14:40
  • @BrianTowers Not really, that seems like a short list.
    – James Ko
    Apr 21, 2021 at 16:46
  • @SecretAgentMan: Agreed, maybe one could condense it to openings where usually castling to different sides happens. Thus no Queens Gambit main (where it is only one of three usual plans - even if you can choose that yourself) but probably Najdorf (I played tons of games, most White castle long - OK, bad example, I don't castle with Black at all :-) If in doubt, the Lichess variant game counter counts! Apr 21, 2021 at 21:15
  • The Dragon Sicilian is probably the prime example
    – David
    Apr 24, 2021 at 20:16

3 Answers 3


There are some openings where you can castle to the queenside with Black and your opponent typically castles kingside. For example, Botvinnik variation in the Semi-Slav defence. For white, the choice is wider. Zemish variation in King's Indian, main lines in most variations of the Sicilian defence, especially the ones where White play Bg5 or Be3 right away (Keres attack in Scheveningen, main lines in Najdorf, Dragon. In Pirc and Caro Kann White and Black typically castle to different sides as well.


Finding out the entire list of common openings is practically impossible. Many players often play by their own strengths, and one opening someone plays might have queenside castling, while others might not, vice versa. That being said, the most common openings and deviations from these are Sicilian, and queens pawn d4 openings. There is no way to accurately predict what a player chooses in a position.

If you enjoy opposite castling, you should wait till your opponent castles, or if you are sure they will not castle in a certain direction then you can also do so.


Here's a mini-list of openings (both amateur/professional) I compiled that fit this criteria. Feel free to comment or add your own post if you have suggestions:

  • Advance Caro-Kann
  • Albin Countergambit
  • Black Lion
  • Botvinnik Semi-Slav
  • Exchange French
  • Winawer French
  • Exchange Ruy Lopez
  • Scandinavian Defense, Anderssen Counterattack (Qa5/early e5)
  • Scandinavian Defense, Bronstein Variation (Qd6/a6)
  • 3.Nf3 Scandinavian

Some more suggestions are listed here.

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