The Queenside Castle: King Safety Explained!

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The game of chess is a game of strategy. It involves both the art of attack and defense. Therefore, chess players should possess adequate knowledge of both arts and apply them in their games.  

One very important aspect of any chess game is “King safety.” It is not news that the King is the star of a chess game. If a king falls, the game ends. Therefore, the King must be protected at all costs. 

A very important move that promises King safety is known as CASTLING. There are two types of castling;

  • The Kingside castle
  • The Queenside castle

In this article, we will examine the ins and outs of Queenside castle. But before we get into that, it is important to know what castling is and how it is performed.

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What Is Castling?

Castling is a special move in the chess game where a player moves their King two squares on the board toward a rook in the same rank and moves the rook to the King’s other side. It is the only move in chess in which a player is allowed to move two pieces in the same turn, and it is the only King move where the King moves two squares in a turn.

Castling with the King’s rook is known as kingside castle or castling short, and castling with the queen’s rook is known as queenside castle or castling long. The notation for castling is 0-0 for kingside castle and 0-0-0 for queenside castle.

The green dots show the queenside (left) and kingside (right) castling for white

Conditions Before Castling Can Be Performed 

1. If neither the King nor rook has been moved yet

Before castling can be performed, your King and the rook must not have been moved.Moving the rook takes away a player’s ability to castle with that rook. After you’ve moved one of your rooks, you can no longer castle with that rook. You can only use the other rook (if it hasn’t been moved). Likewise, moving the King takes away a player’s ability to castle (it doesn’t matter whether either rook has moved). 

2. There are no pieces between the King and the rook

Before castling can occur, the squares between the King and the rook must be free. This means that no piece must be standing in the way. 

3. The King is not in check.

Another condition before you can castle is that your King should not be in check. 

A King cannot castle if a check is being delivered. The check must be blocked or neutralized (the piece delivering the check must be captured) before castling can occur.

4. The squares through which the King will pass or the square to be occupied are not under attack

Castling cannot occur if an enemy piece controls the squares between the King and the rook.

This being said, let’s now look at what a Queenside castle is. 

Queenside Castle

In a Queenside castle, the player with the white pieces moves his King two squares to the left, while the player with the black pieces moves his King two squares to the right. The player then moves the rook on that side directly to the other side of the King in the same move. The Queenside castle is often called a long castle in chess. 

The Queenside castle is known as the long castle because the rook moves a long distance of three squares. 

Queenside castle
The green dots show how the king moves in a queenside castle

Advantages Of The Queen Side Castle

1. King Development

In the endgame, the King becomes a fighting piece. Therefore, a player needs to bring his King into action quickly. A Queenside castle puts the King closer to the center of the board. This helps you take control of the endgame faster and attack your opponent. 

2. Rook Development 

Queenside castling helps bring the rook into the game by giving it either an open or semi-open file. However, the rook is not as developed and close to the action in Kingside castling. 

Disadvantages Of The Queen Side Castle.

1. It Leaves The King More Exposed 

Although Queenside castle gives somewhat of a more attacking edge than Kingside castle, it also comes with a downside.

Unlike in a Kingside castle, where the King is safely tucked in behind the shelter of pawns, In a Queenside castle, your King is more open to attacks from your opponent. 

2. It Makes The A-pawn Vulnerable

Queenside castle is performed by moving the King two squares towards the rook and putting the rook directly by the King’s other side. In doing this, the “a” pawn is left unguarded. This makes it a target for the rest of the game, and a player would have to lose a tempo to guard the pawn. 

And there you have it, the Queenside castle is explained in simple terms. Of course, like every other aspect of chess, it has its merits and demerits. However, it’s a reliable way of ensuring the King’s protection while still opening doors of attacking possibilities.  

READ ALSO: How To Castle In Chess On Mac?

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