is one of modern chess’ most enigmatic moves. It can only be done once each game (by either player) and is the only move where two pieces move simultaneously. Sounds like a bargain, no? BUT not every grandmaster thinks so…witness Bill Lombardy’s
opinion on castling , expressed in his book
‘The problems posed by the decision to castle are much misunderstood and thereby underrated.
… So, my new advice on castling: it is castling is to be considered a waste of time wrongly expended when there is almost always something more important to achieve. Thus castling is a passive move that nurtures the hope of king safety. I believe that a player who learns how and when to delay castling will certainly improve his/her play. Very often that cherished hope of safety is ill founded. I therefore believe that the maneuver of castling is the most dangerous of all moves and the decision thus requires more attention to delicate judgment.
Not only should one not rush to castle, but should delay that passive maneuver for as long as good judgment relates that there are more urgent, if only slightly better, tasks to accomplish.’
(Editor’s note: I do not yet have Lombardy’s book, and have taken these passages from the most recent article in Chess History
”As long as my opponent has not yet castled, on each move I seek a pretext for an offensive. Even when I realize that the king is not in danger.” Mikhail Tal
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF CASTLING?
Castling has its roots in the “king’s leap”. There were two forms of the leap: (1) the king could move once like a knight
, and (2) the king could move two squares on his first move. The knight-move could be used early in the game to get the king to safety or later in the game to escape a threat. This second form was used in Europe as early as the 13th Century. In North Africa, the king was moved to a safe square by a two-step procedure: (1) the king moved to the second rank
and (2) the rook moved to the king’s original square and the king moved to the rook’s original square (Davidson 1949
Before the bishop
acquired their current moves in the 16th Century they were weak pieces and the king was relatively safe in the middle of the board. When the bishop and queen got their current moves they became very powerful and the king was no longer safe on its original square since it can be attacked from a distance and from both sides. Castling was added to allow the king to get to a safer location and to allow rooks to get into the game earlier (Davidson 1949
The rule of castling has varied by location and time. In medieval England, Spain, and France, the white king was allowed to jump to c1, c2, d3, e3, f3, or g1, if no capture was made, the king was not in check, and did not move over check. (The black king could move similarly.) In Lombardy, the white king could jump an additional square to b1 or h1 or to a2 (and equivalent squares for the black king). Later in Germany and Italy, the king move was combined with a pawn move.
In Rome from the early 17th century until the late 19th century, the rook could be placed on any square up to and including the king’s square, and the king could be moved to any square on the other side of the rook. This was called “free castling”.
The current version of castling was established in France in 1620 and England in 1640 (Sunnucks 1970
In the 1811 edition of his chess treatise, Johann Allgaier
introduced the 0-0 symbol. He differentiated between “0-0r” (r=right) and “0-0l” (l=left). The 0-0-0 symbol for queenside castling was added in 1837 by Aaron Alexandre
The practice was then accepted in the first edition (1843) of the Handbuch des Schachspiels