When Can You Castle In Chess? (Explained!)

You might already know about castling and its two types, kingside and queenside castling. But the problem is, you are not quite sure when can you castle and when can you not castle in chess, right? Don’t worry; you are in the right place!

When can you castle in chess? You can castle only when the king and rook haven’t been moved yet, the space between them is empty, the king is not in check, and castling doesn’t put the king in check.

When can you not castle in chess? You can’t castle if the king and rook have already moved, if the king is in check, if castling puts the king in check, or if the space between the king and rook is not empty.

Here’s a table that shows when castling is allowed and when it is not allowed.

When Castling Is Allowed:When Castling Is Not Allowed:
King hasn’t movedKing has moved
Rook hasn’t movedRook has moved
King is not in checkKing is in check
Castling doesn’t put the king in checkCastling puts the king in check
Space between king and rook is emptySpace between the king and rook is not empty

Can You Castle At Any Time In Chess?

No, you can’t castle at any time you want in chess. Only when you fulfill the castling rules are you allowed to castle. Moreover, once you castle, you already move your king and rook, and thus you are no more able to castle again.

According to the FIDE Laws Of Chess, you LOSE the right to castle:

  • If the king has already moved.
  • Or with a rook that has already moved.

Also, Castling is TEMPORARILY PREVENTED:

  • If the square where the king stands, or the square through which the king must pass, or the square where the king is going to occupy is attacked by one or more than one of the opponent chess pieces.
  • If the space between the king and rook with you would castle is not empty.

So basically, there are two key concepts you must remember. When do you lose the right to the castle and when Castling is temporarily Prevented.

Losing the right to castle means, you would completely lose the chance of castling entirely for the given game if respective situations occur. (Like the king or rook already moved)

Whereas, castling being temporarily prevented means as long as the respective situations persist you can’t castle. But as soon as that situation goes away you can castle as long as other rules are followed as well. I hope you understood my point.

By the way, if play chess on chess.com and ever got confused while castling on that platform, then you may like to check out my article: How To Castle In Chess.com? (A Helpful Step-By-Step Guide!) And if you ever wondered whether you should get the chess.com premium or not, I have written a detailed Chess.com premium review here.

When You Can Castle In Chess:

when-you-can-castle-in-chess
Castling can be done

This situation is perfect for castling. Here both the king and rook are in their original position which means they haven’t moved yet.

The king is not in check. And castling wouldn’t put the king in check since there’s no opponent piece that can attack the king.

Also, the space between the king and rook is completely empty. Thus, in the given situation, you can castle.

When You Can’t Castle In Chess:

when-you-can't-castle-in-chess
Castling can’t be done as the king already moved

In the above situation, you can’t castle as the king has already been moved. So right from the beginning of the game, try not to move your king if you want to castle.

when-you-can't-castle-in-chess
Castling can’t be done as the rook already moved

In this situation, the rook has already moved. And you can’t castle if the king or the rook has already moved.

However, do note that in the game of chess each side has two rooks.

So if you have moved one rook already but still another rook hasn’t been moved yet. Then, you can castle your king with that unmoved rook as long as all other conditions of castling are fulfilled.

when-you-can't-castle-in-chess
Castling can’t be done as doing it would put the king in check which is not allowed

In this position, notice carefully that the white opponent chess piece which is the black queen is already attacking the square through which the king will have to pass through while castling. So what do you think, will it be allowed to castle in this situation?

And the answer is no, you can’t castle in the above position.

It is because castling is temporarily prevented if the square on which the king is standing, the square through which the king has to pass or the square which the king would occupy is attacked by the opponent piece.

Here in the above situation, the square through which the king has to pass while castling is attacked by the opponent chess piece, isn’t it? And so you can castle in this situation.

Now you might be thinking why is this so, right? Well, there’s another rule in chess according to which you are not allowed to put your own king in check. You can’t move any piece that would leave your own king in check.

In this situation, moving the king would put it in check. So it is not allowed to castle in this position.

Also Read: Can You Castle Out Of Check?

when-you-can't-castle-in-chess
Castling can’t be done as the space between the king and rook is not empty

In the given situation, you can’t castle because the place between the king and rook is not empty. Remember, a king or rook can’t jump over the other pieces.

So if there is a chess piece between them, castling can’t be done. However, if that piece is removed and the space between the king and rook becomes vacant, you are allowed to castle as long as other rules are followed.

Conclusion

In short, a player is allowed to castle when the king and rook haven’t moved yet, the king is not in check, castling doesn’t put the king in check, and the space between the king and the rook is empty. However, if any of these conditions aren’t fulfilled, the player can’t castle.

So I hope you know exactly when you can castle and when you can’t castle. If you found this article helpful, please share it. Thanks!

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