The Retrograde Analysis Corner
Due to changes in the Codex
of Chess Composition 2009 this article is outdated; but on the
other hand it may still be valid for problems prior to these
changes. See also Castling and
The general convention is that, in a given problem, any side has the
right to castle provided it is not possible to prove it has lost this
castling right. (See "Castling" in the glossary.)
Now it is sometimes possible to prove that some castlings right are
mutually exclusive. M. Havel was the first to notice and use
this, in 1922.
Here is an example:
Thèmes 64, Apr. 1959
4th Hon. Mention
7+7. Mate in 2
Here Black and White can't be both allowed to castle. Indeed, consider
the Rook on d4. If it is the original QR, then obviously White can't
castle anymore. If it is the original KR, then the wh. King had to let
it out of the SE corner, and he can't castle anymore.
Another (real) possibility is that the Rd4 is a promoted R. Then it
must have left the 8th rank through square d8, or f8, or h8. In any
case the bK (or the bKR) must have moved and B can't castle anymore.
In conclusion: it can be proved that the two castlings are mutually
exclusive, but none may be proven impossible in itself.
Lapierre's problem is a very pedagogical illustration. The try 1.
Rad1?, threatening 2. Rd8 mate fails on 1 ... O-O! The solution is
1. O-O-O! and now 2. Rd8 mate can't be avoided because
1 ... O-O? is illegal.
Sometimes another convention, Retro-Variants,
is assumed. In this case, it is required to mention "(RV)" under the