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When Should You Castle In Chess? (The Perfect Time!)

Castling is a topic that many beginners find difficult to understand. Although they know how to do it, they remain quite confused about the rules and perfect time to do it, about when they should do it, when not to do it and how many times they should do it and any more.

I still remember how castling confused me in my initial learning stages. Now that I know this topic well, I thought to share my knowledge with you and give you a proper helpful guide regarding this. So let’s start with the first question.

How many times can you castle in chess? Castling can be done only once in chess. As per the standard rules, castling can be done only if none of the king or rook made any previous moves. Also, the squares through which the king is going to pass must be empty, free from attack and the king must not be in check.

Now, I know it is hard to remember all these rules at first sight. Don’t worry! That is why I am here to simplify everything for you and explain everything in detail.

Just relax and scroll down! I am going to discuss everything with you step by step. So without further ado let’s dig in!

Can you castle at any time?

Castling can be done anytime in chess. But only when the following four rules of castling are followed:

  1. King has not moved yet.
  2. Rook has not moved yet.
  3. There is no chess piece between king and rook.
  4. King must not be in check. Squares through which king passes or the square which it occupies must not be attacked by the opponent chess piece.

These rules are mentioned in the FIDE laws of chess.

In simple words, if you have moved your king, you cannot castle even if you moved the king to its original place.

On the other hand, if you have not moved your king, but moved one of your rooks, then you can castle only on the side of the unmoved rook.

There should be no other chess piece between the king and the rook. Upto this point it is easy to grasp everything but confusion starts now. From the above four rules the last rule might confuse you. So explaining further.

Suppose you fulfilled all the above three conditions but the king is in check then you can’t castle.

First, you have to take the king out of check. Also, you have to keep in mind that, while taking the king out of check you don’t move it. Otherwise, you will lose the right to the castle.

Also Read: Can castling be done with two hands?

Moreover, the squares through which the king is gonna move also must be free from attack in order to castle.

For example, imagine that you want to do castling but if opponent’s chess piece, let’s say bishop controls one of the square through which king will pass then it is illegal in that case to do castling.

Now that you know all the rules properly, it will be very easy for you to apply these rules in the actual chess match, right? But wait!

I often find chess players asking several times if they could castle when rook is being attacked. I think you might be having (or will have) the same doubt.

And the answer is yes, you can castle your rook even if it is under attack. It can also pass through the square that is attacked by the opponent’s chess piece.

There is no such rule in FIDE Laws that denies this. However, this same thing cannot be done with the king. I have written an in-depth article on can you castle if the rook is under attack which you can check out for more information.

When to castle in chess?

As a general rule of thumb, castling should be done within the first 5 to 10 moves of chess play. This makes the king safe and helps to develop the rook.

In the opening, both sides develop their pieces towards the centre of the chessboard. So there will be action going on in the centre. Pieces will be captured and lines are going to open up. Now, if you haven’t protected your king then it might become a soft target early in the game.

Especially if you are a novice you should castle in those first five ten moves. Thus, your king gets to a safer place and you don’t have to worry much. Thus, concentrate on the game.

Also see: Why is controlling the center important in chess with reasons

Without doing castling early, you will always worry about your king’s safety. It becomes very easy to concentrate on the middle portion of the board after castling.

But there are instances where castling early on is not a favourable move. Hence, coming to our next question.

Should you castle early in chess?

Like all other rules of chess, castling should not be done mindlessly. Most of the time it is favorable to castle early. But in some situations like, when the center of the board is blocked then it is not advisable to castle early.

According to an article on ichess, it is good to stay away from castling if the board is quite blocked in the center in starting. In that case, the game will be only played through the sides of the chessboard. So you can understand that it is good to keep flexibility in the game and avoid castling early on.

When not to castle in chess?

Analyzing the game position before castling is important. Sometimes bishops and queens are traded early in the game. So in that case, considering the importance of the king in the endgame it is not advisable to castle in chess.

Kings can play a very crucial role, especially in endgame situations. When the game is moving fast and pieces are lost faster during the game. Then it would be wise not to castle. Having the king near the center would provide you wider options to attack in the endgames.

Moreover you can avoid castling if you want to wait for your opponents make mistake first and then attack. Not castling your king, might tempt your opponent to make a move in hurry to attack your king. In that case it is very likely for that your opponent will make a mistake. You can wait for this opportunity and utilize it.

However if you are beginner best advice would be to do castling in early 5-10 moves and keep things simple.

Now, talking about when not castle reminds me about a tournament where there castling was made illegal! Have you heard of the No- Castling Chess tournament?

In that tournament all the rules were same except none of the players were allowed to castle. How unique thought was it to conduct a Tournament like this. Moreover it was first of its kind. All the top chess players were selected to play in this tournament. Do you know what the stats came out of this tournament?

Out of 27 games only 3 ended in draw. That is 89% decisive games. Rest 24 games ended in a decisive way and gave a strong fighting. Not only the players enjoyed this game, the spectators as well enjoyed.

What is the perfect time to castle in chess?

The perfect time to castle in chess is generally within first 10 moves. For a beginner castling early is good. For advance chess players, it depends on the situation and position of the chess pieces in the game.

In some openings where most pieces get traded off early it is hard to castle. This actually benefits the player. As discussed earlier, the king can come into the game faster and play a vital role.

If you struggle to understand when and how to offer draw plus all other related queries then you can check my article on the same. Reading that all your doubts will be cleared.

(Final Tips)

Always remember,

Chess is a game of mind and unless you play with an open mind you can’t succeed!

Whether it is castling or any other rule of chess always use it with logic. See as well anticipate all the possible outcomes of it and then use it. Finally, it can be said,

  • If you are beginner then you should castle early on in the game within first 5-10 moves.
  • If your opponent hasn’t castled yet, try to attack the king.
  • After you castle, keep your castle position safe.
  • But if have expertise in chess then there is no hard and fast rule about what is the perfect time to play chess. You can win chess even if you haven’t done castling. Many grandmasters don’t do it then also win the game.

So finally I only want to say, Keep your mind open and play the game!

Hope you found this article helpful. Please do share if you like 🙂

Suggested Read: Kingside Castling and Queenside Castling Explained

Now below are some of the frequently asked questions. Check them! You might also have some in common. Till then, Thanks, and have a nice day!


Can I castle twice in chess?

No, you cannot castle twice in chess. Many chess players think that there are two rooks in chess so they could castle twice. But it is illegal to castle more than once in chess.

How often can I castle in chess?

One can castle anytime during the game as long as the four rules of castling are followed such as the king and rook have not been moved, there is no piece between them, the king is not in check, the squares through which the king is going to pass or the square on which the king is going to be kept is not under check.

Can castling be done when in check?

Castling cannot be done when in check. According to FIDE laws, castling is temporarily prevented if the square where the king stands is attacked by an opponent’s chess piece. Read my article on can castling be done after being in check to know more.

Is it legal to castle out of check?

If the king is in check, then as per FIDE laws it is not legal to castle out of check. Remember you can’t castle in check, through check, or out of check. However, you can castle after getting out of check.

Can castling be done after check?

Yes, you can castle after check but only if the king is out of check. As per the standard rules, castling is temporarily prevented while in check. After the king is out of check, castling can be done anytime during the game provided the four rules of castling are followed.

Should you always castle in chess?

No, it is not mandatory to always castle in chess. But it is generally good to castle early in the game and ensure the safety of the king. Also, castling helps to use the rook in the game more actively, right from the start.

What is castling by hand strategy?

Castling by hand strategy is also called artificial castling. According to Wikipedia, when a player loses the right to castle generally achieves the same castling position by a series of moves but not by actual castling.

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