Most players know that castling is usually considered a defensive move as it tucks the king into a corner where it is harder to attack. Experienced players also know that castling also places a rook on a file that is closer to center, where it can more easily participate in an attack against the enemy king.
And those who really understand the game, or at least get lucky, can find positions where the rook, far from being a bystander, is the main piece in a king attack.
So how does a rook attack? Mostly by checking.
Let’s take a look from the Levenfish variation of the Dragon (see also, “A Dragon Trap” from the December 19, 2019 posting on this blog for other ideas of this almost bad variation of the Sicilian).
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.f4 Bg7 7.e5 dxe5 8.fxe5 Ng4 9.Bb5+ Kf8 10.Ne6+ fxe6 11.Qxd8+ Kf7 12.O-O+
Black is obviously busted here. But he can still fight on. The only question is, “How many moves must occur before he gives up?”
Glenn Cornwell-Jerry Gray
12.O-O+ Nf6 13.Rxf6+ Bxf6 14.Qd4 Bg7 15.Bg5 Nc6 16.Bxc6 bxc6 17.Rf1+ Kg8 18.Qc5 1-0
B. Probola-A. Plicner
Polish U16 Ch.
Zakopane, Jan. 21 2001
12.O-O+ Bf6 13.Rxf6+ Nxf6 14.Qxh8 a6 15.exf6 exf6 16.Bh6 1-0
The Dragon seems to have many examples of checking from castling.
Alexander Thomson-Francisco Prieto Azuar
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be2 Bg7 7.Be3 a6 8.Nxc6 dxc6 9.Qxd8+ Kxd8
10.O-O-O+ Nd7 11.Na4! Ke8 12.Nb6 Nxb6 13.Bxb6 Be6 (Castling would have been preferable. But Black has already moved his king and his monarch is now stuck in the middle.) 14.f4 f5 15.exf5 gxf5 16.Bh5+ Bf7 17.Bxf7+ Kxf7 18.Rd7 Ke6 19.Rxb7 Rhb8 20.Re1+ 1-0
K. Njili (2305)-Said Medjkouh
Zonal Tournament, 4.1, Africa
Tipaza, Algeria, May 26 2011
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.h4 Bg7 4.h5 d5 5.exd5 gxh5 6.Nc3 Nf6 7.Bb5+ Nbd7 8.d4 Qa5 9.Bd2 a6 10.Bd3 cxd4 11.Nxd4 Ne5 12.Qe2 Nxd5 13.Bb5+! axb5 14.Nxd5 Qd8 15.Nxb5 Kf8 16.Nf4 Ra4 17.Nxh5 Qd5 18.Nxg7 Bg4 19.f3 Bxf3 20.Nc3 Bxe2 21.Nxd5 Ba6 22.Nf5 e6 23.Bh6+ Ke8 24.Nc7+ Kd8 25.Bg7 exf5
26.O-O-O+ Kc8 (Not 26…Kxc7? 27.Bxe5+ and 28.Bxh8 and White wins with less fuss.) 27.Bxh8 Rxa2 28.Kb1 1-0
There is no reason why a player must engage in a Dragon to castle and check.
GM Viswanathan Anand-GM Peter Svidler
Spain, Feb. 27 1999
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 dxc4 6.Qxc4 O-O 7.e4 a6 (Black has a number of good responses here: 7…Bg4, 7…Nc6 and the text move.) 8.e5 b5 9.Qb3 Nfd7 10.h4 c5 11.e6 c4 12.Qd1 Nb6 13.exf7+ Rxf7 14.h5 Nc6 15.hxg6 hxg6 16.Be3 Bf5 17.Ng5 Rf6 18.g4 Be6 19.Nce4 Bd5 20.Qd2 Rd6 21.f3 Bxe4 22.fxe4 Nd7 23.Qh2 Nf8 24.e5 Rd7 25.Ne6 Qa5+ 26.Bd2 Nxe5 27.Be2 c3 28.Bxc3 b4 29.Nxg7 bxc3 30.Qh8+ Kf7
Most players are aware of this tactical motif.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Be3 d6 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bxc5 dxc5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.c4 Rb8 10.Nc3 Rxb2 11.O-O-O+ 1-0
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e4 Bb4 5.Bd3 e5 6.dxe5 dxe4 7.Bxe4 Bxc3+ 8.bxc3 Qxd1+ 9.Kxd1 Be6 10.Rb1 Na6 11.Rxb7? O-O-O+ 0-1
Ivan Feuer-Albéric O’Kelly de Galway
Liege, Belgium, 1934
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.Bxc6+ bxc6 6.d4 f6 7.Nc3 Rb8 8.Qd3 Ne7 9.h4 h5 10.Be3 Rxb2? 11.dxe5 dxe5 12.Qxd8+ Kxd8 13.O-O-O+ 1-0
And finally, some of the best castling moves do not involve checks.
GM Gligoric-GM Yusupov
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 a6 9.e4 c5 10.d5 c4 11.dxe6 fxe6 12.Bc2 Bb7 13.O-O Qc7 14.Ng5 Nc5 15.f4 h6 16.e5?! (16.Nh3) 16…Nd3! 17.Bxd3
17…O-O-O! -/+ 18.Nf3 Rxd3 (Yusupov, writing in Informator 30, notes that even stronger is 18…Bc5+ 19.Kh1 Ng4.) 19.Qe2 Bc5+ 20.Kh1 Nd5 21.Ne4 Rf8 22.Ne1 Rd4 23.Nxc5 Qxc5 24.Qg4 Qe7 25.Nf3 Rdxf4 26.Bxf4 Rxf4 27.Qg3 g5 28.Rae1 Qb4 29.Rf2 Ne7 30.a3 Qc5 31.Rd2 Nf5 32.Qh3 g4 33.Qh5 Kb8 34.Nh4 Qxe5 35.Qe8+ Ka7 36.Rdd1 Re4 37.Rxe4 Qxe4 38.Qf8 Qc6 39.Rd2 c3 40.bxc3 Qxc3 41.Rd1 Qc2 42.Qd8 Qf2 0-1
Belgium, June 3 1907
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bf4 Nbd7?! (Black finds himself in a weak variation of the London System.) 4.e3 g6 5.Bd3 Bg7 6.Nbd2 O-O 7.h4 Re8 8.h5 Nxh5 9.Rxh5 gxh5 10.Bxh7+ Kxh7 11.Ng5+ Kg6 12.Ndf3 e5 13.Nh4+ Kf6 14.Nh7+ Ke7 15.Nf5+ Ke6 16.Nxg7+ Ke7 17.Nf5+ Ke6 18.d5 Kxf5 19.Qxh5+ Ke4
20.O-O-O! 1-0 (21.f3# cannot be avoided. Notice the Rook on d1 closes the last escape square for the Black king.)
Which brings us to Part 2. See you next week!