20 February 2011

Castling Nomenclature

A few weeks ago, I received this email, with a couple of good points about castling in chess960.
Subject: A castle question
Date: Friday, January 28, 2011, 4:51 PM

My question is about castling. It seems to me that the rules of castling would be easier explained if they were referred to as simply "c" or "g" castling. Of course, terms such as "Queenside", "Kingside" "long" or "short" don't apply. But 960 promoters such as yourself often refer to it as "a-side" or "h-side" which I think is often just as confusing to a new comer to the game. Why not just explain the castling rules by simply saying the King can go to the "c file" or "g-file"and the outside Rook goes to the inside, "d" or "f" respectively, if all other castling conditions are met, such as pieces in the way or not passing through check.

Why does 960 use the old traditional notation system of "0-0" or "0-0-0" when these terms seem arbitrary in 960? Just as archaic as terms like "Queenside" or "Kingside". Why not simply record a castle as "KcRd" or simply "cd" and "KgRf" or simply "gf"?


I answered as follows.

You ask a good question and I'm afraid my answer won't be as good. The castling nomenclature, like the name of the game itself (chess960, FRC, etc.) is a topic that distracts attention from the main issue, promoting chess960 as a valid alternative to traditional chess. Since most players are coming to chess960 from chess, I feel that it's useful to explain the differences in terms they already understand, like 'Queenside' and 'O-O-O'. I appreciate that purists think otherwise and that they also have a valid point. I touched on this subject in my latest post...

Getting Organized

...under the heading 'Jargon'. It comes down to what you think the priorities are for promoting chess960.

And received further explanation.

My questions about the castling nomenclature just came from my experiences trying to teach kids how to play chess whether it was orthodox chess or 960. They seem to get confused. I used to say the King can move 2 squares to the right or left and the outside Rook goes to the inside. But after experimenting with 960 I now simply say the King can go to c or g and the outside Rook to d or f, if of course all other qualifying conditions are met.

Bravo, R.L., for teaching chess960 to kids who are just learning chess! If that castling explanation works for you, then there is no reason to explain it any other way. I came to chess960 from chess and have always taken it for granted that most chess960 players follow the same path. There is really no reason to assume that, is there?


HarryO said...

Yes bravo R.L. for teaching kids Chess960! That's it, the deal is done very good RL. From now on I will try to refer to kingside castling as castle "g-file" and queenside castling as castle "c-file"

PS) Does any one know the history of why the king ends up on the c-file in traditional chess queenside castling and not on the b-file? Whatever.

John said...

HarryO: The reason was because castling evolved from a mediaeval move called the "King's Leap", which allowed the King to move two squares in any direction as its first move. As a result of pressure on the center by newer pieces (the Queen and Bishop) it became fairly standard practice to move the Rook to the center and King's Leap over the Rook. This eventually became one move.