Just The Rules: Bogus Chess Law?!

Have you ever stumbled across some off-the-wall unofficial rules of chess? You know the kind—rules that players think are really official, but are not. Check out these Facebook contributions to that list of bogus rules (edited to protect the guilty): Nicholas Sterling: A kid in a class tried to tell me about something called “spicing”, whereby the rules of a game could be changed midway through. He insisted US Chess and FIDE Rules did not explicitly forbid it, and refused to believe me when I said they did. Brenda Tramel Hardesty: My husband, Danny Hardesty, heard this one at a scholastic tournament: If I check my opponent seven times, I win, right? Louis Reed (and others): You have sixteen moves to checkmate a lone king or you lose. Tom Langland: Five illegal moves and you lose the game. Tom Langland: The false claim of a checkmate equals the loss of game. Rob Getty: I've had players claim a 50 move draw because they played 50 moves. Rob Getty: I had a scholastic player claim the triple repetition of position draw by just moving her king back and forth three times while her opponent was capturing what was left of her pieces. Rob Getty: My son was playing a non-rated tournament where a parent volunteer told kids that the game was a draw as soon as one player's clock ran out. Tom Langland: There is the “caging” touch-move rule. This is where if you hover your hand over a piece with all your fingers pointing down while you are thinking about moving it, you have “caged” it and must now move it. John Moldovan: The higher-rated player wins the tiebreak. Tom Langland: You are not allowed to press the clock with a chess piece—you have to use your finger. Sara Walsh: If both players have pieces on the board when time ran out, the game was a draw. Brad Crable: If you are only left with your King and can march it to your opponent’s last rank, then you can get your queen back! Neal Bellon: On two separate occasions at my club, a player thought "touch move" has to do with the clock. He touched a piece, changed his mind, and moved another. When his opponent correctly called him on it, the reply was, "But I didn't hit my clock." Rob Getty: I remember being involved in a touch move incident 30 years ago where my opponent claimed that touch move didn't apply because I hadn't said, "check.” Brian Karen: A player in my tournament covered his hands with his shirt sleeve when moving a piece. He learned the hard way this does not exempt him from touch move. Tim Mirabile: For beginners, capturing pieces that a knight jumps over. Tim Mirabile: I observed someone try to “en passant” capture with a bishop. Bryan B Leano: A player claimed that to promote a pawn to a queen, the player has to actually say "queen". Louis Reed: At the end of the clock time the pieces are counted and whomever had the most pieces on the board would win the game. Rulebook Rumors US Chess is the new publisher of the rulebook, starting with the 7th edition. The plan is to publish selected chapters—the actual rules of play, tournament rules, and Blitz rules—on-line on or before January 1, 2019. The paperback copy of the entire book should be available early in 2019. Tim Just is a National Tournament Director, FIDE National Arbiter, and editor of the 5th, 6th, and 7th editions of the US Chess Rulebook. He is also the author of My Opponent is Eating a Doughnut & Just Law, which are both available from US Chess Sales and Amazon/Kindle. Additionally, Tim recently revised The Guide To Scholastic Chess, a guide created to help teachers and scholastic organizers who wish to begin, improve, or strengthen their school chess program. Tim is also a member of the US Chess Rules Committee. His column, exclusive to US Chess, “Just the Rules” explores all aspects of rules and clarifies potentially confusing regulations.


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Making these rules available to the public is a very good idea, and should help to alleviate some of the confusion regarding them. Many thanks!

In reply to by Louis Reed (not verified)

I find this overly optimistic. When you've seen TDs create rules from whole cloth as often as I have, it is expecting a lot that all players will understand most or all of the rules before playing in tournaments. I recently had a father and son pair both play very poor checks very early in the game because they had been taught that once a player had been checked he could no longer castle. A 300 page rulebook will not fix such basic gaps in knowledge. Also, how many of these players know better but are attempting to bully opponents into excepting "creative" interpretations of those rules?

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I laughed out loud on a couple of these! Very amusing...

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Other erroneous so-called rules 70 checks in a row by one player is a draw (regardless of whether or not there are any captures or pawn moves during those 70 moves) Since a king takes king capture cannot happen that means kings can freely move next to each other (which would make a K+Q vs K checkmate difficult but still possible to force while a K+R vs K checkmate would not be possible) If the scoresheet is filled up then the game is over and it is a draw You can declare "no copying" to prevent your opponent from mirroring your moves (so much for the Petroff, or any other e4 e5 or d4 d5 openings)) If the king is not in check and cannot move then it is stalemate regardless of whether or not there are other moves (the simplest way to refute this "rule" is to point to the starting position, ask if the king can move, and then ask if it is stalemate) The 50-move rule only starts when one side is reduced to a bare king and any subsequent captures or pawn moves are irrelevant A player loses for unethically piling on by promoting a pawn to a queen when there is already a queen on the board (interestingly enough, many players making such a complaint are facing opponents who will end up drawing half the time with K+Q vs the player's K and will stalemate 90% of the time with K+2Q vs K) A player loses for unethically "toying with" an opponent by not efficiently delivering checkmate (one coach said that the player with the stronger position was prolonging the agony of the opponent and should be forfeited for unsportsmanlike conduct - I responded that the "agony" could be ended at any moment by the player in the busted position simply resigning so the prolonging of any "agony" was not under the sole control of only one player) You can use en passant to capture pieces other than pawns (first seen by me when a player used en passant to capture a queen) You can use en passant to capture a pawn even if the last move was not made by that pawn (d4 d5, c4 dxc4, Nf6 cxd3) If you sit in the wrong chair and start playing a game then that game must continue as your game that round (imagine the 60th strongest player out of 100 getting a perfect score by sitting at one of the bottom boards each round - perhaps moving there at the last second after a TD has already verified the player was sitting at the correct board). If a king never moved two squares to castle then it can move two squares to get out of check A piece pinned to a king cannot be used to deliver check (white to move with Bf6, Kg6, Ph6, black Ra6, Kg8 means that h7+ can be met by Kh8 since the bishop can't move and next move black will either win the pawn or win the bishop) If there are multiple time controls then reaching the time control point means you reset the clock for the new time control without carrying over any unused time from the first time control

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Mr. Langland's first cited "rule" is a generous version of the FIDE rule which results in the loss of game after fewer illegal moves. I have great sympathy for a rule of this type because if a player can't routinely, not always, but much of the time, make legal moves, he probably shouldn't be playing tournament chess.

In reply to by Alex Relyea (not verified)

I have a lot of sympathy for this attitude but I wouldn't want it to be a hard and fast rule for newer players that are not yet used to serious tournament chess. 13I can already be used with warnings and penalties that steadily escalate up to loss of game without somebody inexperienced getting blindsided by an unexpected loss from a new rule. I expect an experienced tournament player to almost always play legal moves but a new player generally doesn't get that experience until playing in tournaments, so requiring such experience beforehand is either a chicken and egg issue or it requires all players to first have rock-solid coaches before they can play in a tournament (adding another secret handshake to the process).

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I like the time an A class player wanted to claim "no losing chances" on move 38 of a game with the time control of 40/2, SD/1.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Here's one: It's OK to castle queenside even if your queenside knight is still on its home square. Well, the rule sheet that came with the cheap chess set only said, "Of course, when you castle, the squares that will be occupied by your king and rook must be vacant."

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

When scholastic players touch a peoce, decided they dont want to move it and say “i adjust”.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Alot of people think if when castling queenside, a bishop is gaurding the b8/b1 square, you cant castle because the rook goes theough the bishops diagonal

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