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How Does The Chess Rook Move? Including 4 Rook Checkmate Patterns

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The Rook

Very few pieces in chess are as imposing as the Rook. The rook is a chess piece that expertly performs the function of attack and defense. Rooks are very adept at destroying the enemy and also guarding the king. Therefore, a player must understand the chess rook move. 

READ ALSO: How Many Chess Pieces Are In A Set? Simple Introduction

History Of The Rook 

The making of the rook goes way back to the medieval game of shatranj. The rook is used to symbolize a chariot. The Persian word “rukh” (رخ) means “chariot,” and the corresponding piece in the original Indian version, chaturanga, has the name ratha, which translates to “chariot.” In modern times it is mostly known as (हाथी ) “elephant” to Hindi-speaking players, while east-Asian chess games such as xiangqi and shogi have names that also translate to “chariot” (車) for the same piece.

Rook Placement On The Chessboard

The white rooks start on a1 and h1 squares, while the black rooks start on the a8 and h8 squares. The rook can move horizontally or vertically through any number of unoccupied squares. The rook cannot jump over pieces; only the knights possess such ability.

Chess rook move
Placement of rooks on the chessboard

However, the rook may capture an enemy piece by moving to the square on which the enemy piece occupies. The rook also combines with the king to perform a technique called Castling. Castling is a special move where a player moves his king two squares on the board toward a rook on the same rank and moves the rook to the king’s other side.

Value Of Rooks In Chess 

The rook is worth 5 points. In general, rooks are stronger than bishops or knights ( bishops and knights are called minor pieces) and are considered greater in value than a minor piece by two points but less valuable than two minor pieces by one point. Two rooks are also generally considered worth more than a queen by 1 point. Winning a rook for a bishop or knight is winning the exchange. Rooks and queens are called major pieces as opposed to bishops and knights, called minor pieces. 

Development Of A Rook

In the opening, the rooks are very inactive as they are blocked in by other pieces and cannot immediately enter the game; therefore, the best course of action is to connect the rooks on the first rank by Castling and then remove all other pieces except the king and rooks from the first rank. In that position, the rooks can support each other and easily move to occupy and control the best files. 

A common strategy is to develop a rook on the first rank of an open file (any pawns of either player don’t obstruct an open file) or a semi-open file (friendly pawns don’t obstruct a semi-open file). From this position, the rook is usually exposed to less risk but can exert control on every square on the file. If one file is particularly important, a player might advance one rook on it, then position the other rook behind. This is called doubling of the rooks. 

The Endgame: How does a chess rook move?

Rooks become very powerful pieces towards the endgame. This is because they have a wider range of mobility; this is so because, in the endgame, there are fewer pieces on the board to obstruct their movement. 

Rooks are also not very adequate when defending against advancing enemy pawns. They can only be effective when they are behind the advancing pawn. 

The rook is also very effective in delivering checkmates. 

Here are some ways in which the chess rook moves to deliver checkmate

Blind Swine Mate

The Blind Swine Mate pattern’s name is attributed to Polish master Dawid Janowski who referred to doubled rooks on a player’s 7th rank as “swine.”

Chess Rook Move: Blind Swine Mate

 In the picture above, white is to play, and white can force checkmate with the following moves: Rxg7+ Kh82. Rxh7+ Kg83. Rbg7#

Blind Swine Mate Completed

Back-Rank Mate 

The back-rank mate occurs when a rook or queen delivers checkmate to a king blocked in by its pieces (usually pawns) on the first or eighth rank.

Chess Rook Move: Back-Rank Mate

King And Rook Checkmate 

This kind of checkmate is achieved by combining the king and rook. 

Chess Rook Move: King and Rook Checkmate

Ladder Mate

A ladder mate is done when two rooks work together to cut off an enemy king from the game and ultimately checkmate him.

Chess Rook Move: Ladder Mate

And there you have it! Now you know the basics of the chess rook move.

READ ALSO: Can A Queen Move Like A Knight? Simple Explanation

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