The Basics of a Rook


The game of chess consists of 64 squares with one player controlling black pieces and the other controlling white pieces. You have sixteen pieces made up of pawns, bishops, knights, rooks, a queen and a king. A rook is stronger than a bishop or knight and is actually considered about two pawns greater in value. Let’s look at how a rook affects the game of chess.

Each player begins with two rooks, one in each corner on their side. The rook moves horizontally or vertically, forward or back, through any number of unoccupied squares. A rook captures its opponents by occupying the square on which the enemy piece stands. A rook can participate in a special move called “castling� with the king.

Castling is a special move involving the king and a rook of the same color. Castling consists of moving the king two squares towards a rook, then moving the rook onto the square over which the king crossed.

Two rooks are also considered to be worth slightly more than a queen. Rooks and queens are considered to be heavy or major pieces, opposed to bishops and knights, which are called minor pieces.

When beginning the game, rooks are undefended by other pieces, so it is a good plan to unite your rooks on the first rank by “castling�. That way, your rooks can protect each other and can easily move to threaten your opponent.

A common strategy with your rook is to place it on the first rank of an open field (or in an area unobstructed by pawns of either player). The rook is relatively unexposed to risk and can control every square on the file. Another strategy to use is to advance one rook behind the other as you move, this is called, “doubling the rooks�.

Having your rook on the seventh rank threatens your opponents’ un-advanced pawns and hems in the enemy king. Two rooks on the seventh rank are considered powerful enough to force a victory. Many people refer to your rooks on the seventh rank as “pigs on the seventh�, because they threaten to “eat� your opponent’s pieces or pawns.

Your rook is more powerful toward the end of the game, when they can move unobstructed by pawns and other pieces. They are in control of a large number of squares and have a great advantage in winning the game.

Just like all the other pieces in chess, you want to try and keep your rook as long as possible. A rook is a great way to protect your king in the endgame and is also one of the best pieces to have available to declare “check mate� on your opponent.

Let’s review how you want to utilize your rook when playing chess. The rook is one of the best defense strategies you have for your king. Set up castling as quickly as possible when playing. To castle, move your king two spaces toward the desired side of the castle. Remember that the pieces between your king and rook need to be cleared out and once you have set up the king and the rook you are castling with cannot be moved. Also remember that you cannot castle to get out of check and you cannot castle thorough check.

Remember your greatest advantage with a rook is that it can move any number of spaces horizontally or diagonally, but it cannot move through other pieces. A rook is a great piece to have available in your endgame as it is twice as considered two pawns in value and twice as strong as a bishop or knight.

Now that you have your rook strategies down, start practicing so you can beat your opponents with “castling�!


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