How do I Castle?

If you’re new to chess, castling can look like an illegal move at first because two pieces move at the same time. But this is a legal and very important move in chess! Watch this free lesson on castling, check out this support video, or read on below!

Castling is the only time in chess that two pieces can move at once, and the only time a piece other than the knight can move over another piece. The king moves two spaces to the left or to the right, and the rook moves over and in front of the king, all in one move!

To castle, simply move the king two spaces to the left or right, OR move the king on top of the rook you want to castle with. The rook will jump across and to the other side of the king automatically!

You can’t castle any time you want to, though. Here are the rules for castling: 

  • Your king can not have moved- Once your king moves, you can no longer castle, even if you move the king back to the starting square. Many strategies involve forcing the opponent’s king to move just for this reason. 
  • Your rook can not have moved- If you move your rook, you can’t castle on that side anymore. Both the king and the rook you are castling with can’t have moved. 
  • Your king can NOT be in check- Though castling often looks like an appealing escape, you can’t castle while you are in check! Once you are out of check, then you can castle. Unlike moving, being checked does not remove the ability to castle later. 
  • Your king can not pass through check- If any square the king moves over or moves onto would put you in check, you can’t castle. You’ll have to get rid of that pesky attacking piece first!

Castling, Castle, Chess, How To Castle

      White is not allowed to castle through the bishop's "check" on f1!

  • No pieces can be between the king and rook- All the spaces between the king and rook must be empty. This is part of why it’s so important to get your pieces out into the game as soon as possible! 

See this article for a video and more info! 

If the information in this article is out of date or incorrect, or if you have questions about it, please let us know! 

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