Oct 012010
Way back at the beginning of September I posted some evidence to support the elementary chess principle that castling is, both from a positional and tactical perspective, a necessity in the game of chess. Today I’d like to bring Hebden Bridge Chess Club’s members attention to some examples where castling turned out not to be such a good idea. Of course these illustrations all fall into the category of “tactical oversights”. It would seem perfectly possible to argue that the only way castling can be “strategically unsound” is if a player can choose to castle on either side of the board and selects an option that is not consistent with the strategy he has pursued up to that juncture.

Let’s begin our exposé with some amusing cases of chess blindness, namely, players castling into an immediate checkmate. My fellow blogger, Greenpawn34, has, once again, come to my aid with the fruits of some insightful database queries.

“Players castling into mate in one. So far I have found 116 examples of this on the 1400 database.” (A database of games played on the Redhotpawn website).



Is that h1-a8 diagonal going to cause a problem?
White played 16.0-0 and Black check mated him


Watch out for that half open h-file! White played 11.0-0
and Black check mated him

Cunningly, White played 24.Nf4(!) ignoring the enprise
Rook in order to allow Black to play 24…0-0-0?? Oh dear!

In all of the cases above the losing player simply failed to visualise what the position would look like after they’d castled. In other words, they played the move on autopilot and paid the ultimate price. These are fairly unusual cases. However, in contrast to this “instant check mate” scenario, I should imagine that most of us have games in our score books where either ourselves or our opponents have unwittingly castled straight into the teeth of a blistering attack that led us/them to defeat. This can often be a case of, “right idea, wrong time to try it,” or it could be that we’ve underestimated or failed to notice our opponents attacking threats. I’m ashamed to say that these next two examples are not only my own, they are even from the same tournament!

Calderdale Individual Championships 2009/10: Round 2

Calderdale Individual Championships 2009/10: Round 5

Finally, by way of redemption for my sins in the games given above, I offer readers the game below which I played over 15 years ago! I still find it hard to believe that I’ve only played a handful of games since then that I think can hold a candle to this one. In all fairness to my opponent it would have been very difficult for him to envisage the full horror that awaited him when he played 12…0-0.

This one is definitely amongst the “best three wins” in my chess career. I hope to play this well again one day in the next 15 years!

  One Response to “When castling goes bad!”

  1. Thanks for the comments on our game Dave!

    Swashbuckling indeed!

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