laws title

FIDE Laws of Chess cover over the board play. The English text is the authentic version of the Laws of Chess which was adopted at the 67th FIDE Congress at Yerevan Sep.-Oct. 1996, coming into force on 1 July 1997.  In these Laws, the words ‘he’, ‘him’, and ‘his’ include ‘she’, ‘her’, and ‘hers’.


The Laws of Chess cannot cover all possible situations that may arise during a game, nor can they regulate all administrative questions. Where cases are not precisely regulated by an Article of the Laws, it should be possible to reach a correct decision by studying analogous situations which are discussed in the Laws.  The Laws assume that arbiters have the necessary competence, sound judgment and absolute objectivity. Too detailed a rule might deprive the arbiter of his freedom of judgment and thus prevent him from finding the solution to a problem dictated by fairness, logic and special factors.

FIDE appeals to all Chess players and federations to accept this view.

A member federation is free to introduce more detailed rules provided they:

    a.   do not conflict in any way with the official FIDE Laws of Chess;

    b.   are limited to the territory of the federation in question;  and

    c.   are not valid for any FIDE match, championship or qualifying
          event, or for a FIDE title or rating tournament.


Article 1: The nature and objectives of the game of Chess


The game of Chess is played between two opponents who move pieces alternately on a square board called a ‘Chessboard’. The player with the white pieces commences the game. A player is said to ‘have the move’, when his opponent’s move has been completed.


The objective of each player is to place the opponent’s king ‘under attack’ in such a way that the opponent has no legal move which would avoid the ‘capture’ of the King on the following move. The player who achieves this is said to have ‘checkmated’ the opponent and to have won the game. The opponent who has been checkmated has lost the game.


If the position is such that neither player can possibly checkmate, the game is drawn.

Article 2: The initial position of the pieces on the Chessboard


The Chessboard is composed of an 8x8 grid of 64 equal squares alternately light (the ‘white’ squares) and dark (the ‘black’ squares).

The Chessboard is placed between the players in such a way that the near corner square to the right of the player is white.


At the beginning of the game one player has 16 light colored pieces (the ‘white’ pieces); the other has 16 dark colored pieces (the ‘black’ pieces):

These pieces are as follows:


A white King, usually indicated by the symbol ............


A white Queen, usually indicated by the symbol ........


Two white Rooks, usually indicated by the symbol ....


Two white Bishops, usually indicated by the symbol .


Two white Knights, usually indicated by the symbol ..


Eight white Pawns, usually indicated by the symbol ..



A black King, usually indicated by the symbol ............


A black Queen, usually indicated by the symbol ........


Two black Rooks, usually indicated by the symbol ....


Two black Bishops, usually indicated by the symbol .


Two black Knights, usually indicated by the symbol ..


Eight black Pawns, usually indicated by the symbol ..



The initial position of the pieces on the Chessboard is as follows

                                Chess board


The eight vertical columns of squares are called ‘files’. The eight horizontal rows of squares are called ‘ranks’. A straight line of squares of the same color, touching corner to corner, is called a ‘diagonal’.

Article 3: The moves of the pieces


No piece can be moved to a square occupied by a piece of the same color. If a piece moves to a square occupied by an opponent‘s piece the latter is captured and removed from the Chessboard as part of the same move. A piece is said to attack a square if the piece could make a capture on that square according to Articles 3.2 to 3.5.


    a.   The Queen moves to any square along the file,  the rank  or  a  diagonal
          on which it stands:

                                 Queen movement

    b.   The Rook moves to any square along the file  or  the  rank  on  which  it

                                 Rook movement

    c.   The Bishop moves to any square of its own color along  a  diagonal  on
          which it stands:

                                 Bishop movement

When making these moves the Queen, Rook or Bishop cannot move over any intervening pieces.


The Knight moves to one of the squares nearest to that on which it stands but not on the same rank, file or diagonal. It does not pass directly over any intervening square.

                                 Knight movement


    a.   The  Pawn  moves  forward  to  the  unoccupied  square  immediately in
          front of it on the same file, or

    b.   on its first move the Pawn may advance  two  squares along  the  same
          file provided both squares are unoccupied, or

    c.   the Pawn moves to a square occupied by  an  opponent’s  piece  which
          is diagonally in front of it on an adjacent file (“x”),  capturing that piece.

                                 Pawn movement


A Pawn attacking a square crossed by an opponent’s Pawn which has
          advanced  two  squares  in  one  move  from   its   original  square  may
          capture this opponent’s Pawn as  though  the  latter had  been   moved
          only one square. This capture can be made only on the move following
          this advance and is called an ‘en passant’ capture.

                                 En Passant move

    e.   When a Pawn reaches  the  rank  furthest  from  its starting  position it
            must  be exchanged  as  part  of  the  same  move  for  a  Queen, Rook,
            Bishop  or  Knight  of   the  same  color.   The  player’s  choice  is   not
            restricted   to   pieces   that   have   been   captured   previously.    This
            exchange of a Pawn for another piece  is  called  ‘promotion’  and  the
            effect of the new piece is immediate.


(a) The King can move in two different ways, by:

    a.   moving to any adjoining square that is not attacked by one or  more  of
          the opponent’s pieces,

                                 King movement


    b.   ‘castling.  This is a move of  the King and either rook of the same color
           on the same rank, counting as a single move of the King and executed
           as follows: the King is transferred from its original square two squares
           towards  the  Rook,  then  that Rook is  transferred over the King to the
           square the King has just crossed.

Before black kingside castling

After black kingside castling

King side castling 1 King side castling 2

Before white kingside castling

After white kingside castling

Before black queenside castling

After black queenside castling

Queen side castling 1 Queen side castling 2

Before white queenside castling

After white queenside castling

(1) Castling is illegal:

    a.   if the King has already been moved, or

    b.   with a Rook that has already been moved

(2) Castling is prevented for the time being:

    a.   if the square on which  the  King  stands,  or t he  square  which it  must
          cross, or the square which it is to occupy,  is attacked by  one  or  more
          of the opponent’s pieces.

    b.   if   there  is   any  piece   between  the  King  and  the  Rook  with  which
          castling is to be effected.

(b) The King is said to be ‘in check, if it is under attack by one or more of the opponents pieces, even if such pieces cannot themselves move.

Declaring a check is not obligatory.

A player must not make a move which places or leaves his own King in check.



Article 4: The act of moving the pieces

Each move must be made with one hand only.


Provided that he first expresses his intention (e.g. by saying “j’adoube”), the player having the move may adjust one or more pieces on their squares.


Except as provided in Article 4.2, if the player having the move deliberately touches on the Chessboard:

    a.   one or more pieces of  the same  color,  he  must  move  or  capture  the
          first piece touched that can be moved or captured, or

    b.   one piece of each color, he must capture the opponent’s piece with his
          piece or, if this is illegal,  move or capture the first piece touched which
          can be moved or captured.  If it is unclear the player’s  own  piece shall
          be considered to have been touched before his opponent’s.


    a.   If a player deliberately touches his King  and  Rook  he  must  castle  on
          that side if it is legal.

    b.   If a player deliberately t ouches  a  Rook  and  then  his  King  he  is  not
         allowed to castle on that side on that  move  and  the  situation  shall  be
         governed by Article 4.3.

    c.   If a player,  intending to castle touches the  King or  King  and  Rook  at
          the  same  time,   but  castling  on  that  side  is  illegal,  the  player  must
         choose either to castle on the other side,  provided that castling on that
         side is legal,  or  to  move his  king.  If  the King has  no  legal  move,  the
         player is free to make any legal move.


If none of the pieces touched can be moved or captured, the player may make any legal move.


If the opponent violates Article 4.3 or 4.4, the player cannot claim this after he himself deliberately touches a piece.


When, as a legal move or part of a legal move, a piece has been released on a square, it cannot then be moved to another square. The move is considered to be made when all the relevant requirements of Article 3 have been fulfilled.

Article 5: The completed game


    a.   The game is won by the player  who  has  checkmated  his  opponent’s
          King with a legal move. This immediately ends the game.

    b.   The game is won by the player whose  opponent  declares  he  resigns.
          This immediately ends the game.


The game is drawn when the player to move has no legal move and his King is not in check. The game is said to end in ‘stalemate’. This immediately ends the game.


The game is drawn upon agreement between the two players during the game. This immediately ends the game. (See Article 9.1)


The game may be drawn if the identical position is about to appear or has appeared on the Chessboard three times. (See Article 9.2)


The game may be drawn if the last 50 consecutive moves have been made by each player without the movement of any Pawn and without the capture of any piece. (See Article 9.3)


Article 6: The Chess clock



‘Chess clock’ means a clock with two time displays, connected to each other in such a way that only one of them can run at one time.

‘Clock’ in the Laws of Chess means one of the two time displays.

‘Flag fall’ means the expiry of the allotted time for a player.


When using a Chess clock, each player must make a certain number or all moves in an allotted period of time and/or may be allocated an additional amount of time after each move. All this must be specified in advance. The time saved by a player during one period is added to his time available for the next period, except in the ‘time delay’ mode.

In the time delay mode both players receive an allotted ‘main thinking time’. They also receive a ‘fixed extra time’ for every move. The count down of the main time only commences after the fixed time has expired. Provided the player stops his clock before the expiry of the fixed time, the main thinking time does not change, irrespective of the proportion of the fixed time used.


Each time display has a ‘flag’. Immediately after a flag falls, the requirements of Article 6.2 must be checked.


The arbiter decides where the Chess clock is placed.


At the time determined for the start of the game the clock of the player who has the white pieces is started.


The player shall lose the game if he arrives at the Chessboard more than one hour after the scheduled start of the session (unless the rules of the competition specify or the arbiter decides otherwise).


    a.   During  the  game  each player,  having  made his  move on  the  Chess
          board,  shall  stop  his  own  clock  and  start  his  opponent’s  clock.   A
          player  must  always  be  allowed  to  stop  his  clock.  His  move  is  not
          considered  to  have been completed until he  has done so,  unless  the
          made  move  ends  the  game (See  Articles  5.1, 5.2  and  5.3).  The  time
          between making the move on  the Chessboard and  stopping  his  own
          clock and starting his opponent‘s clock is regarded as part of  the  time
          allotted to the player.

    b.   A player must stop his clock with the same hand as that with which  he
          made his move.  It is  forbidden  to keep the finger on  the  button  or  to
         ‘hover’ over it.

    c.   The players  must handle the  Chess clock properly.  It  is  forbidden  to
          punch  it  forcibly,  to  pick  it  up  or  to knock  it  over.   Improper  clock
          handling shall be penalized in accordance with Article 13.4.


A flag is considered to have fallen when the arbiter observes the fact or when a valid claim to that effect has been made by either player.


Except where Articles 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3 apply, if a player does not complete the prescribed number of moves in the allotted time, the game is lost by the player. However, the game is drawn, if the position is such that the opponent cannot checkmate the player by any possible series of legal moves, even with the most unskilled counterplay).


Every indication given by the clocks is considered to be conclusive in the absence of any evident defect. A Chess clock with an evident defect shall be replaced. The arbiter shall use his best judgment when determining the times to be shown on the replacement Chess clock.


If both flags have fallen and it is impossible to establish which flag fell first, the game shall continue.


    a.   If the game needs to be interrupted, the arbiter shall stop the clocks.

    b.   A player may stop the clocks in order to seek the arbiter’s assistance.

    c.   The arbiter shall decide when the game is to be restarted.


If an irregularity occurs and/or the pieces have to be restored to a previous position, the arbiter shall use his best judgment to determine the times to be shown on the clocks.


Screens, monitors, or demonstration boards showing the current position on the Chessboard, the moves and the number of moves made, and clocks which also show the number of moves, are allowed in the playing hall. However, the player may not make a claim based on anything shown in this manner.

Article 7: Illegal positions


    a.   If during a game it is found that  the  initial  position  of  the  pieces  was
          incorrect, the game shall be cancelled and a new game played.

    b.   If during a game it is found that the only  error  is  that  the  Chessboard
          has been placed contrary  to  Article 2 .1,  the  game  continues  but  the
          position  reached  must   be  transferred  to  a   correctly  placed  Chess


If a game has begun with colors reversed then it shall continue, unless the arbiter rules otherwise.


If a player displaces one or more pieces, he shall re-establish the correct position on his own time. If necessary the opponent has the right to restart the player’s clock without making a move in order to make sure the player re-establishes the correct position on his own time.


If during a game it is found that an illegal move has been made, or that pieces have been displaced from their squares, the position before the irregularity shall be re-instated.  If the position immediately before the irregularity cannot be identified the game shall continue from the last identifiable position prior to the irregularity. The clocks shall be adjusted according to Article 6.13 and, in the case of an illegal move, Article 4.3 applies to the move replacing the illegal move. The game shall then continue.

Article 8: The recording of the moves


In the course of play each player is required to record his own moves and those of his opponent, move after move, as clearly and legibly as possible, in the algebraic notation (Appendix E), on the score sheet prescribed for the competition.

A player may reply to his opponent‘s move before recording it, if he so wishes. He must record his previous move before making another. The offer of a draw must be recorded on the score sheet by both players. (Appendix E.12)

If a player due to physical or religious reasons, is unable to keep score, an amount of time, decided by the arbiter, shall be deducted from his allotted time at the beginning of the game.


The score sheet shall be visible to the arbiter at all times.


The score sheets are the property of the organizers of the event.


If a player has less than five minutes left on his clock and does not have additional time of 30 seconds or more added with each move, then he is not obliged to meet the requirements of Article 8.1. Immediately after one flag has fallen the player must update his score sheet completely.


a.   If neither player is required to keep score under Article 8.4,  the arbiter or
     an  assistant   should  try  to  be  present  and  keep  score.   In this  case,
     immediately after one flag has  fallen,  the  arbiter  shall  stop  the  clocks.
     Then both players shall update their score sheets,  using  the arbiter‘s or
     the opponent‘s score sheet.

b.   If only one player  is  not  required  to  keep  score  under  Article  8.4,  he
     must update his  score  sheet  completely  as  soon  s  a  flag  has  fallen.
     Provided it is the player
s move, he may use his opponents score sheet.
     The player is not permitted to move until after he has completed his own
     score sheet and returned his opponent’s.

c.   If no complete score sheet is available,  the players must reconstruct the
     game on a second Chessboard  under  the  control  of  the  arbiter  or  an
     assistant,  who   shall   first   record   the   actual   game   position   before
     reconstruction takes place.


If the score sheet cannot be brought up to date showing that a player has overstepped the allotted time, the next move made shall be considered as the first of the following time period, unless there is evidence that more moves have been made.

Article 9: The drawn game


A player can propose a draw after making a move on the Chessboard. He must do so before stopping his own clock and starting his opponent‘s clock. An offer at any other time during play is still valid, but Article 12.5 must be considered. No conditions can be attached to the offer. In both cases the offer cannot be withdrawn and remains valid until the opponent accepts it, rejects it orally, rejects it by making a move, or the game is concluded in some other way.

The offer of a draw shall be noted by each player on his score sheet with the symbol (=).


The game is drawn, upon a correct claim by the player having the move, when the same position, for at least the third time (not necessarily by repetition of moves):

a.   is about to appear. If he first writes his move  on  his  score  sheet  and
      declares to the arbiter his intention to make this move, or

b   has  just  appeared.

      Positions  as  in  (a)  and  (b)  are  considered   the  same,  if   the  same
      player has the move,   pieces of the  same kind  and color  occupy  the
      same squares,   and  the  possible  moves o f   all  the  pieces  of   both
      players  are  the same.   Positions are not  the same  if   a  Pawn  could
      have  been captured  en passant  or  if the  right  to castle immediately
      or in the future has been changed.


The game is drawn, upon a correct claim by the player having the move, if:

a.   he writes on his score sheet,  and declares to the arbiter  his  intention
      to make a move which shall result in the  last  50  moves  having  been
      made by each player without the movement of any pawn  and  without
      the capture of any piece, or

b.   the  last  50  consecutive  moves  have  been   made   by   each   player
      without the movement of any  Pawn  and  without  the capture  of  any


If the player makes a move without having claimed the draw he loses the right to claim, as in Article 9.2 or 9.3, on that move.


If a player claims a draw as in Article 9.2 or 9.3 he shall immediately stop both clocks. He is not allowed to withdraw his claim:

a.   If the claim is found to be correct the game is immediately drawn.

b.   If the claim is found to be incorrect, the arbiter shall deduct half of  the
      claimant‘s remaining time up to a maximum of three minutes  and  add
      three minutes to the opponent‘s remaining  time.  Then the game shall
      continue and the intended move must be made.


The game is drawn when a position is reached from which a checkmate cannot occur by any possible series of legal moves, even with the most unskilled play. This immediately ends the game.

Article 10: Quickplay Finish


A ‘quickplay finish’ is the last phase of a game, when all the remaining moves must be made in a limited time.


If the player has less than two minutes left on his clock, he may claim a draw before his flag falls. He shall stop the clocks and summon the arbiter.

a.   If the arbiter is satisfied the opponent is  making  no  effort  to  win  the
     game  by  normal  means,   or  that  it  is  not possible to win by  normal
     means,   then   he  shall declare  the  game drawn.  Otherwise  he  shall
     postpone his decision.

b.   If the arbiter postpones his decision,  the opponent  may  be  awarded
      two extra minutes thinking time  and  the  game  shall  continue  in  the
      presence of the arbiter.

c.   Having postponed his decision, the arbiter may subsequently  declare
      the game drawn, even after a flag has fallen.


Illegal moves do not necessarily lose. After the action taken under Article 7.4, for a first illegal move by a player the arbiter shall give two minutes extra time to his opponent; for a second illegal move by the same player the arbiter shall give another two minutes extra time to his opponent; for a third illegal move by the same player, the arbiter shall declare the game lost by the player who played incorrectly.


If both flags have fallen and it is impossible to establish which flag fell first the game is drawn.

Article 11: Scoring


A player who wins his game scores one point (1), a player who loses his game scores no points (0) and a player who draws his game scores a half point (1/2).

Article 12: The conduct of the players


High standards of etiquette are expected of the players.


During play the players are forbidden to make use of any notes, sources of information, advice, or to analyze on another Chessboard. The score sheet shall be used only for recording the moves, the times of the clocks, the offer of a draw, and matters relating to a claim.


No analysis is permitted in the playing area when play is in progress, whether by players or spectators. Players who have finished their games shall be considered to be spectators.


The players are not allowed to leave the ‘playing venue without permission from the arbiter. The playing venue is defined as the playing area, rest rooms, refreshment area, area set aside for smoking and other places as designated by the arbiter. The player having the move is not allowed to leave the playing area without permission of the arbiter.


It is forbidden to distract or annoy the opponent in any manner whatsoever; this includes the persistent offer of a draw.


Infraction of any part of the Articles 12.2 to 12.5 shall lead to penalties in accordance with Article 13.4.


The game is lost by a player who persistently refuses to comply with the Laws of Chess. The opponent‘s score shall be decided by the arbiter.


If both players are found guilty according to Article 12.7, the game shall be declared lost by both players.

Article 13: The role of the arbiter (see Preface)


The arbiter shall see that the Laws of Chess are strictly observed.


The arbiter shall act in the best interest of the competition. He should ensure that a good playing environment is maintained and that the players are not disturbed. He shall supervise the progress of the competition.


The arbiter shall observe the games, especially when the players are short of time, enforce decisions he has made and impose penalties on players where appropriate.


Penalties open to the arbiter include:

a.   a warning,

b.   increasing the remaining time of the opponent,

c.   reducing the remaining time of the offending player,

d.   declaring the game to be lost,

e.   expulsion from the event.


The arbiter may award either or both players additional time in the event of external disturbance of the game.


The arbiter must not intervene in a game to indicate the number of moves made, except in applying Article 8.5, when at least one player has used all his time. The arbiter shall refrain from informing a player that his opponent has made a move, or that he has failed to press his clock.


Spectators and players in other games are not to speak about or otherwise interfere in a game. If necessary, the arbiter may expel offenders from the playing venue.

Article 14: FIDE


Member federations may ask FIDE to give an official decision about problems relating to the Laws of Chess.

back      up      forward

Home  |  Chess Gallery  |  Chess Poster  |  Contact us  |  Español