The secret arts of castling

"Castle because you will or because you must; but not because
you can.
" -- Pillsbury
 

What can we infer from Pillsbury's advice? Castling is desirable:
it whips the King out from under the central battle, and it gets a
Rook into play where lines may be opened. But it is also a move
which must be weighed against other moves. Careless, automatic
castling can waste time that could be better spent on other things,
and you can also castle from the frying pan into the fire. Below
I'll look at the whys and wherefores of castling.
 

Castling not at all
I show this game to all the juniors. Get your King out of the way!
And if your opponent doesn't castle, open up lines to the uncastled
King for your Rooks.
Wojciechowski - Weiss (Munich)
[C15]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Nge2 dxe4 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6.
Nxc3 f5

 

?! The only way to hang on to the pawn, but it would have been
safer to let it go. (Nimzo and Weiss did know this, but must have
thought themselves capable of the defence.)
7. f3 exf3 8. Qxf3 Qh4+
[8...Qxd4 9.Qg3 Nf6 10.Qxg7 Qe5+ 11.Be2 Rg8 12.Qh6
Rg6 13.Qh4 Bd7 14.Bg5 Bc6 15.0-0-0 Bxg2 16.Rhe1 Be4 17.Bh5 Nxh5
18.Rd8+ Kf7 19.Qxh5 Kg7 20.Nxe4 fxe4 21.Bh6+ Kf6 22.Rf8+ 1-0
Alekhin Alexander-Nimzowitsch Aaron/Bled 1931]

9. g3 Qxd4 10. Be3 Qg4 11. Qg2
 

White must preserve the Q having sacrificed two pawns
11... Nf6 12. Be2 Qg6 13. O-O-O Nc6 14. Nb5 Qf7
15. Bc5 a6 16. Bf3 Nd8 17. Qd2 Nd5 18. Bxd5! axb5 19.
Rhe1

 

White's major pieces are the main artillery in the attack against
the uncastled King
19... Bd7 20. g4 Nc6 21. gxf5 Qxf5 22. Bxe6 Bxe6
23. Qd7+ 1-0

 

Castling into it
This is the opposite fault: castling into an area where lines are
more easily opened up against you.
Blackburne - Blanchard (London)
[C30] , 1891

1. e4 e5 2. f4 Bc5 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. Nf3 exf4 ? 5. d4 Bb4 6.
Bxf4 d5 7. e5 Bxc3+ 8. bxc3 Be6 9. Bd3 h6 10. O-O Nge7 11.
Rb1

 

a rook's first duty is to sieze the open files (or half-open ones)
11... b6 12. Qd2 O-O
 

optimistic!
13. Bxh6
  sacrifices like this don't take much thought...
13... gxh6 14. Qxh6 Ng6 15. Ng5 Re8 16.
Rxf7

[16. Qh7+ or 16.Bxg6 both win]
16... Bxf7 17. Qh7+ Kf8 18. Qxf7#
1-0

 

Dubois - Steinitz Wilhelm
(London (England)) [C55] 1862

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. O-O Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. Bg5
h6

 

Black, not having castled, can advance on the King's-side with
impunity.
7. Bh4 g5 8. Bg3 h5 9. Nxg5 h4 10. Nxf7 hxg3 11.
Nxd8 Bg4 12. Qd2 Nd4 13. Nc3 Nf3+ 14. gxf3 Bxf3 15. hxg3 Rh1#
0-1

 

Nigel Holloway's Suicide
Variation.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5
e6 7. f4 Be7 8. Qf3 Qc7 9. O-O-O O-O?!

  Nigel Holloway's infamous Suicide Variation of the
Najdorf Sicilian.
 

10. Bd3!? critical
10... Nc6 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. e5 dxe5 13.
Qh3

[13. Ne4 Nd5 14. Bxe7 Nxe7 15. Ng5 h6 16. Nh7 Rd8-/+
Helman-Holloway, NCC 1973]

13... h6 14. Bxh6 gxh6 15. Qxh6 Rd8and 16.
g4
[16. Rhe1 "or almost anything else" and no-one
could find a decisive line for White]

[10. Qg3 Nbd7 11. Bd3 b5 12. Rhe1 b4 13. Nd5 exd5 14.
Nf5+- Hartston-Holloway, GB chp 1973 - "being Bill Hartston, he
claimed that he thought of this over the board".]

 

Hoffmann - Petroff (Zt, Warsaw
(Poland)) [C53] castling: into it?, 1844

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. e5
Ne4 7. Bd5 Nxf2 8. Kxf2 dxc3+ 9. Kg3 cxb2 10. Bxb2 Ne7 11. Ng5 Nxd5
12. Nxf7

 

12... O-O! 13. Nxd8 Bf2+ 14. Kh3 d6+ 15. e6 Nf4+ 16. Kg4
Nxe6 17. Nxe6 Bxe6+ 18. Kg5 Rf5+ 19. Kg4 h5+ 20. Kh3 Rf3#
0-1

 

Castling Queen's-side

nn - nn [B75] castling:
castling Queen's-side, 1993

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3
Bg7 7. f3 Nc6 8. Qd2 a6 9. O-O-O Bd7 10. g4 Rc8 11. Be2 O-O 12.
h4

 

Opposite-side castling and asymmetric pawns/files usually adds up
to a race to mate the opponent's King. Both sides will throw pawns
forward to open up lines for the attack.
12... Nxd4 13. Bxd4 Qa5 14. Kb1 e5 ! 15. Be3 Be6
16. a3 Rfd8 17. Bg5 Rd7 18. h5 Rdc7 19. h6 Rxc3 !? 20. hxg7 R8c6
21. Bxf6 Rb6

 

! exciting stuff!
22. Bb5 !! 22... Rxb5 23. Qxd6 Rc8 24. Qf8+ Rxf8
25. gxf8=Q+ Kxf8 26. Rxh7 1-0

 

Castling into it
Queen's-side

Keres,Paul - Botvinnik,Mikhail
(ch_URS ) (03) [E35] , 1941

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 d5 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Bg5
h6 7. Bh4 c5

 

8. O-O-O Bxc3 9. Qxc3 g5 10. Bg3 cxd4 11. Qxd4 Nc6 12. Qa4
Bf5 13. e3 Rc8 14. Bd3 Qd7 15. Kb1 Bxd3+ 16. Rxd3 Qf5 17. e4 Nxe4
18. Ka1 O-O 19. Rd1 b5 20. Qxb5 Nd4 21. Qd3 Nc2+ 22. Kb1 Nb4
0-1

 

Castling late
Castling late runs the risk of not being able to castle at all,
because your King gets trapped in the middle. However I was very
struck watching Jon Speelman on TV many years ago, refraining from
castling to give an extra tempo for the attack. This is
characteristic of no-one so much as Petrosian.

Speelman - Mestel (BBC TV)
[A42] castling: delayed castling, 1979

1.d4 d6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 e5 5.d5 Nd7 6.Be2 a5 7.a3
Ngf6 8.Bg5 0-0 9.Rb1

 

"Speelman, an original player, is trying a novel plan here. He
delays castling, and uses the extra move to make progress on both
wings."

9...h6 10.Be3 Nc5 11.Bf3 Bd7 12.b4 axb4 13.axb4
Na4 14.Nge2 Ne8 15.Nxa4 Rxa4 16.Qc1 Kh7 17.Nc3 Ra8
18.h4!

 

18...h5 19.Bd1 f5 20.exf5 Bxf5 21.Bc2 Nf6 22.Bg5
Qd7

 

23.0-0!
"Finally! Now Black can no longer counter with a
general advance of the King's-side Pawns." -- James/Barden

23...c6 24.dxc6 Qxc6 25.Bxf5 gxf5 26.Nd5
a Pawn sac! 26...Nxd5 27.cxd5 Qxd5
[27...Qd7] 28.Rd1 Qe4 29.Rxd6 f4 30.f3 Qe2 31.Rb2
Qb5 32.Qb1+ Kh8 33.Rbd2 e4 34.Bh6 Qe5 35.Qxe4 Rfe8? 36.Bxg7+
Qxg7
[36...Kxg7 37.Qg6+] 37.Qxf4 Ra1+
38.Kh2 Rf8 39.Qxf8+ Qxf8 40.Rd8 Kg7 41.Rxf8 Kxf8 42.Rd7
1-0

 

Terpugov,E - Petrosian,T
(Moscow Zenit_Spartak m) , 1957

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d6 3. Nc3 Bg4 4. e4 c6 5. h3 Bxf3 6. Qxf3
Nbd7 7. Be3 e6 8. g4 d5 9. e5 Ng8

 

In closed position it is difficult to open lines against the King,
and if there are no other open lines it may not be essential to
connect the Rooks.
10. O-O-O b5 11. Bd3 Nb6 12. Kb1 Nc4 13. Bc1 Qb6
14. g5 Ne7 15. h4 c5 16. dxc5 Qxc5 17. Rhe1 g6 18. b3 Bg7 19. bxc4
bxc4 20. Bf1

 

Only now does Black castle, having spent each of his precious
ration of moves in the most effective way.
20... O-O 21. Ka1 Rfb8 22. Nb1 Nc6 23. Qg3 Rxb1+
24. Kxb1 Rb8+ 25. Ka1 c3 26. Bd2 Nb4 27. Bd3 Qc4 0-1

 

Petrosian,T - Barendregt,J
(Beverwijk), , 1960

1. c4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. e4 c5 5. d5 e5 6. Be2 Nh6
7. h4 f5 8. Bg5 Qb6 9. Rb1 Nf7 10. Bd2 a5 11. Nf3 h6 12. g3 Na6 13.
a3 Qd8 14. Qc2 h5 15. exf5 gxf5 16. Ng5 Qf6 17. Na4 f4

[17... Qd8 18. Ne6 Bxe6 19. dxe6 Nh6 20. Bxh5+ Ke7
21. Bxh6 Bxh6 22. Qxf5+]

18. Nb6 Bf5 19. Bd3 Bxd3 20. Qxd3 Rb8 21. Ne4
Qd8

 

22. Bxa5 O-O 23. Qd1 f3 24. b4 Nh6 25. Rb3 Ng4 26. O-O Bf6
27. Qxf3! Qe7

[27... Bxh4 28. Qh1 Be7 29. Qxh5 Nf6 30. Qg6+ Kh8 31.
Kg2]

[27... Rf7 28. Qf5 Rh7 29. f3]
28. Qf5 Rf7 29. Qxh5 Rg7 30. f3 Bxh4 31. fxg4 Rh7
32. Qf5 1-0

 

Yates Frederick D - Alekhin
Alexander (San Remo) [C71] , 1930

This is the record-holder, I think!
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 d6 5. Nc3
Bd7 6. d3 g6 7. Nd5 b5 8. Bb3 Na5 9. Bg5 f6 10. Bd2 c6 11. Ne3 Nxb3
12. axb3 Nh6 13. b4 f5 14. Qe2 Nf7 15. Nf1 Qe7 16. Ng3 f4 17. Nf1
g5

 

Neither side seems able to castle with safety on either wing!
18. Bc3 h5 19. N3d2 Bg4 20. f3 Be6 21. d4 Bg7 22.
Qd3 exd4 23. Bxd4 Ne5 24. Qe2

 

Finally, Black commits the King.
24... O-O 25. h3 c5 26. Bc3 cxb4 27. Bxb4 Nc6 28.
Bc3 Bxc3 29. bxc3 Qf6 30. e5 Nxe5 31. Ne4 Qe7 32. Nfd2 Bc4 33. Nxc4
Nxc4 34. Rd1 Qe5 35. Qd3 Rf5

 

And now White:
36. O-O d5 37. Qxd5+ Qxd5 38. Rxd5 Rxd5 39. Nf6+
Kf7 40. Nxd5 Rd8 41. Nb4 Rd2 42. Ra1 a5 43. Nc6 Rxc2 44. Nxa5 Ne3
45. Rb1 Rxg2+ 46. Kh1 Rg3 47. Nc6 Rxh3+ 0-1

 

Castling not at all
(reprise)

Basman - Wall (UK chp
Eastbourne) (2) [A00] , 1990

1. h3 e5 2. a3 d5
  Basman has made a career out of this sort of thing.
3. c4 c6 4. cxd5 cxd5 5. g4 Nc6 6. Bg2 Be6 7. d3
Nge7 8. Nc3 Ng6 9. Nf3 Be7 10. g5 f5 11. gxf6 gxf6 12. Rg1 Qd7 13.
h4 h5 14. Qa4 O-O-O

 

Basman has argued that Kings are safe in the middle as long as you
don't move the central pawns. It all depends on whether your
opponent can open lines, which depends on pawn mobility.
  So White must restrain the Black central pawns.
15. b4 b6 16. Bd2 Kb8 17. b5 Na5 18. Na2 Nb7 19.
Nb4 Bxb4 20. axb4 Nd6

 

White starts a pincer movement.
21. Bh3 Bxh3 22. Rxg6 Rhg8 23. Rxf6 Rg7 24. Bg5
Qc8 25. Rc1 Rc7 26. Rc6 1-0

 
  And while MJB can get away with this sort of thing, it
still involves definite risks.

Bryson - Basman (Cr) [B00],
1986

1. e4 g5 2. d4 h6 3. Bd3 d6 4. Ne2 c5 5. c3 Nf6 6. O-O Nc6
7. Kh1 Bg4 8. f3 Bh5 9. Be3 e6 10. Nd2 Be7 11. a3 cxd4 12. cxd4 d5
13. e5 Nh7 14. Qc2 Nf8 15. b4 Bg6 16. f4 Rc8 17. Rac1 a6

 

A bit French, which is odd for Basman, whose games usually look
Martian... If you know about the French, you may feel that White's
position looks better - Black lacks Queen's-side counterplay
against the attack.
18. f5 exf5 19. Bxf5 Bxf5 20. Qxf5 Rh7 21. Nc3
Rc7 22. Nb3 Rd7 23. Na4 Rc7 24. Nac5 Bxc5 25. Nxc5

 

Black has blockaded the central files, but the Bishop files are
haemorrhaging. 25... Ne7 26. Qf6 Rc6 27. e6 Nxe6 28. Nxb7
Qc7 29. Rxc6 Qxc6 30. Nc5 Nxc5 31. dxc5 Qe6 32. Bd4 Kd7 33. Qf2 f5
34. Re1 Qc6 35. Qe2 f4 36. a4 Qxa4 37. Qe6+ Kd8 38. Qb6+ Kc8 39.
Bf6 Rf7 40. Qe6+

  Fittingly, the decision comes down the King's e-file.
1-0

Castling tactics
Unusually, castling can be used as a positive element in a tactical
idea. It's worth knowing about this, because it is easy to
overlook.

Mikhailov,V - Weteschnik,M (FS
IM A, Budapest) (5), 1995

1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. Nf3 c5 4. Nc3 e6 5. Bf4 Nf6 6. e4 a6
7. a4 Nc6 8. dxc5 Bxc5 9. Qxd8+ Kxd8 10. Bxc4 Bb4

 

11. e5 Ne4 12. O-O-O+ 1-0
 
Thanks to mig for this game, and to others who
contributed games with the same theme, including Joshua Bromberg,
Dan Scoones, and Matt Guthrie. There are many reasons to like the
internet, and chess is one of
them.

  A curiosity:
Wohl,A (2405) - Curtis,J (Doeberl Cup, Canberr )
(2290) (3), 1996

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3
a6 6. f4 e6 7. Qf3 Qc7 8. Be3 b5 9. Bd3 Bb7 10. g4 b4 11. Nce2 d5
12. e5 Ne4 13. f5 Nd7 14. fxe6 Nxe5 15. exf7+ Qxf7 16. Qxf7+ Kxf7
17. Rf1+

[17. O-O+ was possible]
17... Ke8 18. h3 Nc5 19. Nf4 Nc4 20. Bxc4 dxc4
21. Nfe6 Nxe6 22. Nxe6 Kd7 23. Ng5 Re8

 

24. O-O-O+ Kc8 25. Nf7 Rg8 26. Bf4 Bc5 27. Nd6+ Bxd6 28.
Bxd6 Rd8 29. Rf4 Kd7 30. Rxc4 Ke6 31. Rcd4 Rge8 32. Bxb4 Rxd4 33.
Rxd4 h5 34. gxh5 Rh8 35. Rd6+ Kf5 36. Rd7 Bc8 37. Rxg7 Rxh5 38. Rc7
Rh8 39. Bc3 Rg8 40. b3 Kf4 41. h4 Bf5 42. Bd2+ Kg4 43. Rc4+ Kh5 44.
Bg5 Re8 45. Kd2 Re6 46. a4 Bg4 47. Rc7 Re2+ 48. Kd3 Rh2 49. Rh7+
Kg6 50. Rh6+ Kg7 51. Ke4 Bd1 52. Kd3 Bh5 1-0

 

Lasker Ed. - Thomas (London),
1912

1. d4 f5 2. e4 fxe4 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 e6 5. Nxe4 Be7 6.
Bxf6 Bxf6 7. Nf3 O-O 8. Bd3 b6 9. Ne5 Bb7 10. Qh5 Qe7 11. Qxh7+
Kxh7 12. Nxf6+ Kh6 13. Neg4+ Kg5 14. h4+ Kf4 15. g3+ Kf3 16. Be2+
Kg2 17. Rh2+ Kg1

 

18. Kd2#
[18. O-O-O# is given by many sources, which was
possible, but was not Lasker's choice]

1-0

Chess Quotes

"If chess is a science, it's a most inexact one. If chess is an art, it's too exacting to be seen as one. If chess is a sport, it's too aesoteric. If chess is a game, it's too demanding to be *just* a game. If chess is a mistress, she's a demanding one. If chess is a passion, it's a rewarding one. If chess is life, it's a sad one. "