Rook (chess)

Rook (chess)


A rook is a piece in the strategy board game
of chess. Formerly the piece was called the tower, marquess, rector, and comes. The term
castle is considered informal, incorrect, or old-fashioned.
Each player starts the game with two rooks, one in each of the corner squares on his own
side of the board. Initial placement and movement
In algebraic notation, the white rooks start on squares a1 and h1, while the black rooks
start on a8 and h8. The rook moves horizontally or vertically, through any number of unoccupied
squares. As with captures by other pieces, the rook captures by occupying the square
on which the enemy piece sits. The rook also participates, with the king, in a special
move called castling. History In the medieval shatranj, the rook symbolized
a chariot. The Persian word rukh means chariot, and the corresponding pieces in Oriental chess
games such as xiangqi and shogi have names also meaning chariot.
Persian war chariots were heavily armoured, carrying a driver and at least one ranged-weapon
bearer, such as an archer. The sides of the chariot were built to resemble fortified stone
work, giving the impression of small, mobile buildings, causing terror on the battlefield.
However, in the West the rook is almost universally represented as a crenellated turret. One possible
explanation is that when the game was imported to Italy, the Persian rukh became the Italian
word rocca, meaning fortress, and from there spread in the rest of Europe. Another possible
explanation is that rooks represent siege towers – the piece is called torre, meaning
tower, in Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish; tour in French; toren in Dutch; Turm in German;
and Torn in Swedish. An alternative name in Russian: тура. Finally, the chariot was
sometimes represented as a silhouette, a square with two points above representing the horse’s
heads, which may have been seen to resemble a building with arrowports to the medieval
imagination. An exception is seen in the British Museum’s collection of the medieval Lewis
chess pieces in which the rooks appear as stern warders or wild-eyed Berzerker warriors.
Rooks usually are similar in appearance to small castles, and as a result a rook is sometimes
called a “castle”. This usage was common in the past but today it is rarely if ever used
in chess literature or among players, except in the expression “castling”.
The Russian name for the rook means a sailing boat or longship of Northern cultures such
as the Vikings. Strategy
Relative value In general, rooks are stronger than bishops
or knights and are considered greater in value than either of those pieces by nearly two
pawns but less valuable than two minor pieces. Two rooks are generally considered to be worth
slightly more than a queen. Winning a rook for a bishop or knight is referred to as winning
the exchange. Rooks and queens are called heavy pieces or major pieces, as opposed to
bishops and knights, the minor pieces. Placement
In the opening, the rooks are blocked in by other pieces and cannot immediately participate
in the game; so it is usually desirable to connect one’s rooks on the first rank by clearing
all pieces except the king and rooks from the first rank and then castling. In that
position, the rooks support each other, and can more easily move to occupy and control
the most favorable files. A common strategic goal is to place a rook
on the first rank of an open file, or a half-open file. From this position, the rook is relatively
unexposed to risk but can exert control on every square on the file. If one file is particularly
important, a player might advance one rook on it, then position the other rook behind
– doubling the rooks. A rook on the seventh rank is typically very
powerful, as it threatens the opponent’s unadvanced pawns and hems in the enemy king. A rook on
the seventh rank is often considered sufficient compensation for a pawn. In the diagrammed
position from a game between Lev Polugaevsky and Larry Evans, the rook on the seventh rank
enables White to draw, despite being a pawn down.
Two rooks on the seventh rank are often enough to force victory, or at least a draw by perpetual
check. Endgame
Rooks are most powerful towards the end of a game, when they can move unobstructed by
pawns and control large numbers of squares. They are somewhat clumsy at restraining enemy
pawns from advancing towards promotion, unless they can occupy the file behind the advancing
pawn. By the same token, a rook best supports a friendly pawn towards promotion from behind
it on the same file. In a position with a rook and one or two minor
pieces versus two rooks, generally in addition to pawns, and possibly other pieces – Lev
Alburt advises that the player with the single rook should avoid exchanging the rook for
one of his opponent’s rooks. The rook is a very powerful piece to deliver
checkmate. Below are a few examples of rook checkmates that are easy to force. Symbolism In heraldry, chess rooks are often used as
charges. Unlike a real chess rook, they are conventionally shown with two outward-curving
horns. This is because they would otherwise appear to be castle towers, since there is
no proportion on a coat of arms. This charge is always blazoned “chess rook” so as not
to be confused with the bird of that name; it is also not to be confused with the zule,
a similar-looking object with two outward-curving horns at both top and bottom.
In Canadian heraldry, the chess rook is the brisure of the fifth daughter.
Unicode Unicode defines two codepoints for rook:
♖ U+2656 White Chess Rook ♜ U+265C Black Chess Rook
See also Chess piece relative value
Lucena position – winning position Philidor position – drawing position
Rook and pawn versus rook endgame Staunton chess set
Tarrasch rule – rooks belong behind passed pawns
The exchange – a rook for a minor piece Notes References
Alburt, Lev, Back to Basics, Chess Life 2009: 44–45 
Brace, Edward R., “rook”, An Illustrated Dictionary of Chess, Hamlyn Publishing Group, pp. 241–42,
ISBN 1-55521-394-4  Barden, Leonard, Play Better Chess with Leonard
Barden, Octopus Books Limited, p. 10, ISBN 0-7064-0967-1  Fine, Reuben; Benko, Pal, Basic Chess Endings,
McKay, ISBN 0-8129-3493-8  Davidson, Henry, A Short History of Chess,
McKay, ISBN 0-679-14550-8  Griffiths, Peter, Exploring the Endgame, American
Chess Promotions, ISBN 0-939298-83-X  Hooper, David; Whyld, Kenneth, “rook”, The
Oxford Companion to Chess, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-280049-3 
Horton, Byrne J., Dictionary of modern chess, New York: Philosophical Library, p. 175,
ISBN 0-8065-0173-1, OCLC 606992  Lasker, Emanuel, Lasker’s Manual of Chess,
David McKay Company, p. 8, ISBN 0-486-20640-8, OCLC 3636924 
Pandolfini, Bruce, Let’s Play Chess, Fireside, ISBN 0-671-61983-7 
Sunnucks, Anne, “rook, the”, The Encyclopaedia of Chess, St. Martins Press, ISBN 978-0-7091-4697-1 

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