Rook: The Most Straightforward Piece in Chess
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Rook: The Most Straightforward Piece in Chess

Rook: The Most Straightforward Piece in Chess

The rook is the piece in chess that dominates the straight lines. Whether vertical or horizontal, the straight lines are the paths that the rook uses to move around the chess board.

The chess board is composed of vertical and horizontal lines. There are also diagonals, if we take into account the color of the squares. However, the straight lines are clearly defined and these define the squares.

If the bishop is the owner of the diagonals and we can call it The Easiest Piece to Play in Chess, the rook is the owner of the straight lines and we can call it the most straightforward piece in chess.

Meaning of the Rook in Chess

The rook is a chess piece that in its present form is shaped like a tower or castle. This was not always so. Those who invented chess had given another shape to this piece, but in the transformations of chess over time, it finally adopted the shape of a tower or castle.

The chess pieces have different names because they have different values. The rook in that table of material values is assigned a value of 5. That is to say that the rook is worth more than a knight or a bishop, but worth less than the queen. More about this in The Chess Pieces for Newbies (Names & Values).

Place for the Rook on the Chess Board

The two players in a chess game have two rooks among their pieces. Each rook, as can be seen in How to Set Up a Chessboard | Step-by-Step Guide, occupies a corner square of the board.

In the same article, we can see that the rooks are placed as follows when starting a new chess game. The white rooks start on the squares called a1 and h1, while the black rooks start at the other end of the board. On the complete opposite row, the black rooks start on the squares called a8 and h8.

How to Move Your Rook in a Chess Game

Moving your rook on the chess board is very easy. Chess players only have to look at the rows and columns that crisscross the board. The rook moves along the rows and columns that make up the chess board.

The rook moves by rows and columns, straight lines in general, one or as many squares as you wish.

Moving and Capturing with Your Rook

Since in chess two pieces cannot occupy the same square, when moving the rook we can find two possible scenarios.

If we want to move the rook and, in its line of movement there is one of our pieces, the rook cannot jump over it as if you were playing checkers (a simpler game that shares some things with chess).

You will have to move a little further back in that case. If, on the other hand, the piece that is in the way is an enemy piece, the rook has the ability to capture it.

When capturing, the rook will occupy the square of the captured piece that is removed from the chess board.

Castling: Special Move for the Rook in Chess

The chess rules clearly tells to chess players that it is only possible to move a single piece in each turn. However, at the same time, there is a special rule that would be an exception to this general rule and that involves the rook.

Castling is a special, exceptional move in chess, in which it is allowed to move two pieces at the same time. However, it consists of moving two very specific pieces and under established rules.

In castling, the king and a rook are moved in the same move. It is a strange move at first sight, but very necessary to put the king in safety and put the rook in play in the fastest way.

Everything about the castling operation can be seen in Chess Pieces Moves (Complete Guide!).

Go with Your Rook to Any Square in 2 Moves!

The chess board is divided into squares. And, before that, it is divided into vertical and horizontal lines. The vertical lines, or columns, are known as files. The horizontal lines, or rows, are known as ranks.

All the squares on the chess board lie at an intersection between rows and columns. Chess notation makes use of this feature. Thus, reaching a particular square requires only one coordinate, in which that square can be located by row and column.

Two paths for the rook to reach the same square
2 paths for the rook to reach the same square

Check this on your preferred chessboard whatever size it is. The rook, with its natural movement by rows and columns, can reach a specific square, whatever it is, in one turn or maximum two turns.

It can move in one turn to the rank and in the next turn to the desired file on the same rank. You can also do it the other way around, move in the first turn to the file, and in the next turn move to the desired rank on the same file.

Whether it moves first to the rank, or first to the file, the rook can reach any square on the chess board in a maximum of two moves.

Your Rook Always Controls 14 Squares

Each chess piece has a different range, due to the way it moves. We say that a piece controls a certain number of squares because it has the possibility to move immediately there. The king, for example, has a very short range, a maximum of one square in any direction. The rook, on the other hand, is a piece with a long range.

Both rooks control the same amount of squares
Both rooks control the same amount of squares

You don’t need game theory in chess to understand this. Just look at the explanatory diagram.

The rook is not severely restricted by the edge of the board. There are chess pieces that lose in scope when they are placed on an edge of the board. The knight is one of the pieces that suffer most in such cases, making it the weakest piece in chess under certain circumstances. The rook, on the other hand, has no problem with this. The rook is not affected by being on an edge of the board.

The rook, with its way of moving in a straight line through rows and columns, always controls the same number of squares. It doesn’t matter if we put it in the center of the board, or in the first rank, or in the last file. The rook will always control 14 squares from any square where it is placed.

5 Quick Tips for Using Your Rook in Chess

  • Castling is a key step to connect your rooks. This way, the fellow rooks will protect each other.
  • Pawns limit the movement of the rooks. Therefore, your rooks will prefer to have open lines.
  • The search for open lines determines the development of your rook in the opening.
  • A rook increases its power enormously in the endgame, thanks to the fact that there are far fewer obstacles in its way.
  • Several theoretical endgames involve rooks and pawns, in very precise calculations and maneuvers.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

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