Rook (chess)

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A rook ( borrowed from Persian رخ rokh, Sanskrit रथ rath, "chariot") is a piece in the strategy board game of chess. In the past the piece was called the castle, tower, marquess, rector, and comes (Sunnucks 1970). The old-fashioned term "castle" is technically incorrect.[1][2] Each player starts with two rooks, one in each of the corners nearest his own side.

Contents

Initial placement and movement

In algebraic notation, the white rooks start on the a1 and h1 squares, while the black rooks start on the a8 and h8 squares. The rook moves horizontally or vertically, forward or back, through any number of unoccupied squares, as shown in the diagram. Like other pieces, it captures by occupying the square on which an enemy piece stands. The rook also participates, along 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 meaning chariot.[citation needed] 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. 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 and "Turm" in German). Rooks usually are similar in appearance to small castles, and as a result, a rook is sometimes called a "castle" (Hooper & Whyld 1992). This usage was common in the past ("The Rook, or Castle, is next in power to the Queen" —Howard Staunton, 1847) but today it is rarely, if ever, used in the literature or among players, except in reference to castling.[3] The Russian name for the rook ("ladya") means a ship or boat.

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