The Rook in chess is definitely a unique piece on the board. One may use the term “Castle” instead. Nestled in the corner, it is usually the most under-utilized piece on the board. The Rook can inflict damage and result in quick checkmates. It is an essential piece in castling. Without the rook, castling is impossible.
The Rooks find their place on all 4 corners of the chess board. They move in straight lines across the length and breadth of the board. They are unable to move diagonally, however, they have no restrictions in moving along lines. Rooks have a weightage of 5 points. This is 2 more than the Bishop or the Knight. Therefore, it they are more valuable than any piece other than the Queen.
Castle (or) हाथी?
In shatranj, the Rook symbolized a chariot. A chariot which can be seen as this unit of infantry capable of sustaining damage and attack fiercely. हाथी , which translates to elephant, is popular among Hindi-speaking natives. Throughout history, we’ve seen heavily armored chariots used in military combat. Quite often, they appear to be stone bricks resembling a fortified structure.
Certain military establishments had outposts made up of stone. The castles in the game are strategically at the corners and they resemble outposts. This is quite alike their function in the game as well.
The Rook or the Castle is an integral part of Castling. Hence the name. Castling allows the king to safely move into the corner while the Rook is now available to attack the opponents. With over 80% of grandmaster victories involving Castling, the Rooks play a vital role in ensuring this. For more information on Castling, check out our Special Rules page linked below!
Role in Endgame
It is very common to end up in a situation where all major pieces have been captured except the Queen and the Rook. This is a very advantageous situation since, all these pieces work together so beautifully. Here is one effortless method to checkmate your opponent using the Rook and Queen combination.
In the situation above, we don’even require supporting any one of the pieces to accomplish this attack. The Rook-Queen system or the Rook-Rook for this reason is one of the biggest assets to possess.
In the hands of the right player, the rook is one of the most dangerous pieces to attack with. A lot of players however, would trade one of their Rooks for a Knight. This is primarily because of the ability of the Knight to jump over pieces in it’s path of movement.
Rooks are famous for their ability to pin pieces. A pinned piece is one that may not move as it involves a hidden check. Moving it will cause a check. Bishops and Rooks work very well together in pinning down a piece since both of them are unrestricted range pieces. Here is an example illustrating this property.
As illustrated above, Rooks are great pieces that can pin down the opponents pieces to create a winning gap.
Strengthening the corners
Rooks have a great way of integrating themselves into corner fortification of the board. To illustrate this, here is an example.
We have not only arrived at a check, but also, the pawn supports the bishop and the rook supports this pawn just by virtue of being there. All this in just 3 moves!
All these properties make the Rook an indispensable piece on the chess board and worth a lot more than the 5 point value.