7 Crucial Chess Rules You Need to Know | Chessable Blog (2023)

Chess rules may seem easy: learning how to move the pieces is pretty simple when you’re learning how to play chess.

However, there are a few special chess rules – or laws of chess – that you need to know before you start to play competitively.

7 Must-Know Chess Rules

Chess Rule #1: Touch move

If you’re thinking of entering an over the board tournament, you must, must, must understand the touch move rule. We cannot emphasise how essential it is.

Games are won and lost at a stroke with this rule.

So here goes… the rule states that when a chess player intentionally touches one of his pieces, he or she must make a move with this piece (of course, if there is a legal move available).

Falling foul of this rule can be catastrophic as you or your opponent can be forced into making a terrible, game-losing move.

Take this example involving one of the greatest players to ever play the game, Bobby Fischer. Here Fischertouched the king’s rook pawn to move it to h6. But then realised that White can reply 13. Bxh6. It was a disaster and he had to play the horrible move12. …h5??

Of course, Fischer knew the rule inside out – he just momentarily forgot it. This is something that has happened to many, many players (this writer included). Sometimes your hand just seems to move by itself and touch a piece – which is maddening!

So be careful of this rule, always finalise your decision before lifting up you hand. And be prepared to enforce it if your opponent breaks touches a piece.

What should you do if you touch a piece and then realise you don’t want to move it?

  1. Put the piece back and see if you can save the situation by moving it somewhere else. When you calm down, you might discover that your original move wasn’t that bad
  2. If it’s really bad, you could just resign. At least this is an honest way of ending the game and not prolonging the agony
  3. Next time, sit on your hands.

#2: The 50-move rule

This rule is rather obscure, and rarely comes into play over the board or online. But sometimes if you are watching a Grandmaster match you might hear the commentators talking about it.

The chess rule states that you can claim a draw if there has been no capture and if no pawn has been moved in the previous 50 moves.

It is designed to stop endgames going on forever when one (or both) players have no idea how to end the game.

For example,in a situation where White has a bishop and knight left and is trying to mate Black’s lone king (a so-called “B+N endgame”) White may think he or she is winning. And they would be right, technically. A bishop and knight endgame IS a forced win... if you know how to achieve it.

It should take a maximum 32 good moves to mate starting from the most difficult position. However few players even up to 2000 elo know how to do this as it’s very tricky.

That’s why the 50-move rule exists because if you can’t deliver mate in 50 how do you know you’ll figure it out in 100, 200? The game could go on forever.

Here’s a good example of a game involving Magnus Carlsen where the 50-move rule became a factor. It was a battle of attrition played at the London Chess Classic in 2015 between the Bulgarian former world champion Veselin Topalov and the current world champion Magnus Carlsen.

Topalov held out for the draw:

(Video) 7 Chess Rules Every Kid Must Know Before Playing

In the press release following the match, WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni said: “Afterwards, Carlsen revealed that he needed to avoid the 50 move rule and an interesting discussion ensued as to whether the rules need a tweak, particularly in games with increment.

“Carlsen was always making progress and he didn’t have enough moves to fully carry out his plans. Something for everyone to ponder after the tournament.”

If you find yourself in this situation, perhaps your opponent has more material but can’t checkmate you after 50 moves, you have to claim it. A draw isn’t automatic.

#3: The new 75-move rule

This is one of the newest chess rules, adopted in 2016.

In effect,it is just an extension on the 50-move rule designed specifically for tournaments games really can’t go on forever.

Rule 9.6.2 states: “any series of at least 75 moves have been made by each player without the movement of any pawn and without any capture. If the last move resulted in checkmate, that shall take precedence.”

Fide, the game’s world governing body which is responsible for setting chess rules, added the 75 move ruleso you or your opponent need not claim the draw. Instead, an arbiter will enforce a draw for you (i.e. you don’t have to claim it).

Of course, anarbiter has to be present.

#4: Three-fold repetition

There are five reasons why a chess game may end in a draw, and the three-fold repetition rule is perhaps the least known.

That’s probably because unless you are writing down the moves – as you would in a tournament – and have a record of the game then it is often difficult to work out when it comes into play. Occasionally, when there is a disagreement, you see arguments ensue…

However, thethree-fold repetition rules is a lovely little resource to save the game if you think you are losing. Many losing games have been salvaged using this – so it is certainly a must-know!

This rule states that if the same position is repeated three times and no progress is made, you can claim a draw. So it’s very simple, you just have to keep an eye out for it.

#5: En Passant

This is perhaps the most special of all chess rules and it is probably the most difficult to explain.

The rule was only introduced in the 15th century – so fairly late for a major change in the way the game is played rather than policed (as in “touch move” or the 50-move rule). Its name comes from a French expression which means “in passing”.

En passant itself can only occur in a game when a player exercises his option to move his pawn two squares on its initial movement and that move places his pawn next to the opponent’s pawn.

When this happens, the opposing player has the option to use his pawn to take the moved pawn “en passant” or “in passing” as if the pawn had only moved one square.

However, the en passant capture must be done immediately after the pawn advances two squares. If White plays another move she cannot then decide to capture en passant!

While actual uses of the move are rare, the chess would be a completely different game without this rule. Everyone would have to be very concerned about moving a pawn to the 4th or 5th rank, knowing that a pawn could get past them.

Here’s a tip though:

(Video) 3 Rules That Will Change YOUR Chess Forever! [Expert SECRETS & TIPS]

It is not always best to take an opponent’s piece every time the opportunity arises. Carefully consider what taking this move will do to the mutual support of the pawn structure or in revealing a piece that may be situated behind.

#6: Castling

Castling is a special move and the only time in the game you can move two pieces at once. It only involves the king and the rook (no other chess pieces)

There are two types:

Kingside castling (moving the king from e1 to g1 or from e8 to g8) is notated: 0-0.

Queenside castling (moving the king from e1 to c1 or from e8 to c8) is notated: 0-0-0.

Kingside castling is mainly used to get your king into a nice snug place away from the centre of the board and bring your rook closer to the action.

It’s worth noting that castling queenside (or “long castling”) is especially useful as it may help put your rook on an open file. Strong players will also say that it can make for more exciting games, so you need to choose carefully when tocastle queenside.

However, there are some conditions that must be in place before you castle: both the king and the rook can’t have moved, you can’t castle while in check, or into check or cross a line of check.

Here are the caseswhen castling is not permitted:

  1. Your king has been moved earlier in the game.
  2. The rook that you would castle with has been moved earlier in the game.
  3. There are pieces standing between your king and rook.
  4. The king is in check.
  5. Your king moves through a square that is attacked by a piece of the opponent.
  6. The king would be in check after castling.

#7: Pawn promotion

This is another basic part of the game you must know before entering any competition: when a pawn reaches the opposite side of the board, it promotes.

Pawn promotion means that the owner of the pawn can choose a queen, a rook, a knight, or a bishop (of his own color), and put that piece instead of the pawn on the board; on the square of the pawn.

Usually that means a player will promote to a queen (as in most positions she is considered the most powerful piece).

However, there are plenty of situations that crop up where it is better to under-promote, for example to a knight.

Here’s a lovely example of this chess rule in action:

Learn More Important Chess Rules

To find out more about under-promotions, and all the chess rules here, we recommend GM Susan Polgar’s Learn Chess the Right Way series of courses on Chessable.

Check out all our courses for beginners here.

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What is the 75 move rule in chess? ›

Seventy-five-move rule

If seventy-five moves are made without a pawn move or capture being made, the game is drawn unless the seventy-fifth move delivers a checkmate. No claim needs to be made by either player, as the draw is mandatorily applied by the arbiter.

What is the 14 move rule in chess? ›

A player who makes a draw claim under 14C cannot withdraw it; however, it is still considered a draw offer (14). If a player moves, then claims a draw and presses the clock (5H), or claims a draw, then moves and presses the clock, the move stands, and this is considered an offer of a draw (14).

What is the 20 40 40 rule in chess? ›

Follow 20/40/40 Rule

That's where 20/40/40 rule comes handy. For an under 2000 rated player, it makes sense to spend 20% of the time on openings, 40% on Middlegame and 40% on Endgame. Besides that, you should play practice games, solve tactics and analyze.

What is the 13 move rule in chess? ›

There is no such rule. If there were, delivering mate with king, bishop and knight against king would not be possible in most cases, since it usually takes more than 13 moves. Who are the masters that told you such a rule exists? You have to claim the draw by pressing the draw button.

What are the 3 special moves in chess? ›

There are three special moves that can sometimes be performed in chess.
  • Castling. The special move castling allows a player to legally break three of the basic movement rules of chess! ...
  • Pawn Promotion. ...
  • En passant.

What does 15 mean in chess? ›

You will see time set like 15-0 meaning its a 15 minute game, if you see like 10-10 or 15-15, it a fifteen minute game with 15 minutes bonus time. Once you make a move some time is added to you game. It makes it a 30 minute maximum if it adds it all.

What is the 50 rule in chess? ›

Proper noun. (chess) A rule in professional chess that a player may declare the game to be a draw after 50 consecutive moves by each side without any capture or pawn movement, usually invoked during an inconclusive endgame.

What is the 3 check rule in chess? ›

3-Check is a simple variant with one clear task in mind: Check the king as many times as you can! Normal rules apply, but you can also win (or lose!) a game by checking (or getting checked) 3 times in total. Games can still end in the traditional ways of checkmate, stalemate and time-out.

What is the 25 move rule in chess? ›

There is no 25 move rule anywhere in chess. The original post said that 25 moves were already made after the last piece was taken. So 25+25=50. I understood stalemate to be that you could not make any legal moves.

What does 960 mean in chess? ›

Chess960, or Fischer Random, is a variant invented by the late World Champion Bobby Fischer. The rules of the game are the same as standard chess, but in an effort to reduce the impact of opening theory, the pieces have been randomly shuffled on each player's back rank.

What are illegal moves in chess? ›

Here are some examples of illegal moves:

Moving the King on a square that is attacked by opponent's pieces. – Not protecting the King that was attacked by opponent's piece. For example, leaving the King in check. – Moving a piece in a way that the piece is not allowed to move.

What is the 20 move rule in chess? ›

No pieces can be captured and no pawns can be moved. Every 20 moves, you can remove one of your opponents pawns.

What is the 16 step rule in chess? ›

There is no 16 move rule. There is also no rule related to one player having only a king. There is a 50 move rule, but it's reset every time there is a capture or a pawn move by either player.

What is the most risky move in chess? ›

Mate in 2 after white plays f4 and g4 is the most dangerous gambit - gambit away a whole king and hope that the opponent misses it.

What is the rarest move in chess? ›

Underpromoting to a bishop must be the rarest move in chess. We can easily think of some famous examples of rook promotions (such as the brilliant Saavedra study), and by comparison knight underpromotions happen every day - just think of this opening trap in the Albin Countergambit.

What does f5 mean in chess? ›

1... f5 is the 'Duras Gambit,' a very disadvantageous move for Black. In the starting position of chess, it is well known that the two most vulnerable pawns are f2 and f7 because only the King guards them.

What does 5 3 mean in chess? ›

If it were 5/3 that would be 5 minutes on the clock, and after you moved each time, 3 seconds would be added to the clock. So, after you made ten moves in that scenario, you would have gained 30 extra seconds on your clock. keszek76. Mar 14, 2013.

What does 3 2 mean in chess? ›

Mar 11, 2020. The second number is called time increment. For instance 3|2 means both players have 3 minutes on the clock + for each move they get 2 seconds. Someone7890.

Is 100 a bad chess rating? ›

Most of the time 100 rated players are sandbagging. It's almost impossible to be that bad. I was absolutely awful at chess when I started and the lowest I got was 800. Seems logic, although a little strange.

Is 700 a bad chess rating? ›

Generally, it depends on how much you play. If you are, like Hikaru put it, "psycho" about chess, 700 isn't that great. On the other hand, if you are a more balanced person in your life, 700 is respectable enough.

Is 200 rating bad in chess? ›

Aside from that it's very much in the eye of the beholder. A bad player, is, at any given time, is someone with a rating less than exactly 200 points below my current rating at any time. Thank you. On chess.com it'd be anything lower than 1200 since you get a 1200 just for having a pulse and an IP address.

Can a king take a piece in check? ›

The king may capture an enemy piece in a move to get out of check, as long as the piece is not protected. Blocking the check. Also called interposing, is possible only if the checking piece is a queen, rook, or bishop and there is at least one empty square in the line between the checking piece and the checked king.

Can a king check a king? ›

A king is the most important piece in chess and must always be protected. Any piece on the board can put a king into check. A king is not allowed to put another king into check directly. However, a king can be used to aid another piece on the board in putting a king into check and causing a checkmate.

What is the quickest checkmate possible? ›

Fool's Mate is the fastest checkmate possible. In order for Fool's mate to be performed, White must move their g-pawn up two squares and their f-pawn up one or two squares in the first two consecutive moves.

Is there a 5 second rule in chess? ›

If the player uses five seconds for a move, five seconds is added after they complete their move. This ensures that the main time left on the clock can never increase even if a player makes fast moves. As with increment, the delay time is applied to the first move under FIDE and US Chess rules.

What does G 30 mean in chess? ›

“G/30” (also known as action chess) means each player has 30 minutes for the game, so an entire game will last one hour or less; this is the most common time control for scholastic events.

What is rule of first move in chess? ›

In all international and public Chess matches and tournaments, however, it is the rule for the first player to have the white men.” Thus, there was a growing consensus that white should move first.

Why is 3 minute chess so hard? ›

It's because the average strength of the player pool is different. Beginners tend to like longer time controls, like 10|0. After playing for a while they might switch to 3|0 but from what I've seen people never start with 3|0 because it's too fast so they don't like it. And of course all the pros play stuff like 3|0.

What is the smartest first move in chess? ›

The best opening moves (and most popular) in a game of chess are 1. e4 (the King's Pawn Opening), 1. d4 (the Queen's Pawn Opening), 1. Nf3 (the Réti Opening), 1.

What does 15 10 mean in chess? ›

15/10 rapid chess is 15 minutes and a 10 second increment for each side. 10 second increment means that after each move is played, an extra ten seconds is added to your clock.

What does K mean in chess? ›

The king is abbreviated by the letter "K," the queen is abbreviated by the letter "Q," the rook is abbreviated by the letter "R," and the bishop is abbreviated by the letter "B." The knight, a special case, is abbreviated by the letter "N" since "K" is already taken by the king.

What is a respectable chess rating? ›

2000-2199 you are an above average chess player has mastered the basics- game needs some work on other levels. 2200-2450 lucky you- you are a talented player that mastered the basics and has a good grasp of chess conceps. 2700+ A master of masters-whose chess skills have been perfected into an artform.

What was Bobby Fischer's favorite opening? ›

As his first move, Bobby played c4 (English Opening, Queen's Gambit) instead of his favorite and strongest start: e4 (King Pawn). Bobby had been the strongest proponent of the e4 start his whole life but tied at 2.5 - 2.5 points, Bobby made a starting move he had played only two times in his life.

What is the most strategic chess piece? ›

The King.

The king is the most important piece in chess, and chess strategy often revolves around finding ways to protect your king while threatening your opponent's. The king can move in any direction, albeit only one square at a time.

What is sandbagging in chess? ›

A sandbagger is a player who intentionally lowers their rating by losing on purpose, often with the intent of entering tournaments that they can easily win.

What should you not do in chess? ›

Chess: 7 Common Mistakes New Players Need To Avoid
  1. 1 Becoming Frustrated At Slow Progress.
  2. 2 Playing Too Many Pawn Moves. ...
  3. 3 Focusing Too Much On Opening Study. ...
  4. 4 Neglecting Endgame Study. ...
  5. 5 Playing "Hope Chess" ...
  6. 6 Only Thinking About Attacks. ...
  7. 7 Moving The Queen Out Too Early. ...
Apr 23, 2022

What is illegal 1 in chess? ›

It is illegal to make a move that places or leaves one's king in check. The possible ways to get out of check are: Move the king to a square where it is not in check. Capture the checking piece (possibly with the king). Block the check by placing a piece between the king and the opponent's threatening piece.

What are the top 5 important rules in playing chess? ›

6 Golden Rules of Chess
  • If you are not attacking, you're defending. ...
  • If you don't have any pieces left, remember, the King is a piece too. ...
  • Don't feel sorry for your opponents, they won't feel sorry for you. ...
  • If you see a good combination, go for it. ...
  • If you are losing, start taking calculated risks.
Jan 29, 2016

What is the 40 move rule in chess? ›

As stated before, if a player runs out of time before the game is over, they lose the game. “40/90, SD/1” means 40 moves in 90 minutes followed by an hour of sudden death. In other words, each player gets 90 minutes on their clock.

Can rook take queen? ›

The queen moves like the rook and bishop combined. Unless capturing, the queen must move to an unoccupied square; and it cannot jump over pieces. The queen captures on the same path it moves, by landing on the square of the opposing piece.
PrevGame Rules, Strategies and TipsNext

Is 13 too late for chess? ›

if you want to be a a serious competitor, then yes, 13 y/o is too late. but for the average joe, if all you do is play for fun, then no age is too late to join chess.

What does 250 mean in chess? ›

new rating = old rating + K×(W-We).
Rating DifferenceExpected Result for a player with higher ELOExpected result for a player with lower ELO
10 more rows
Feb 11, 2011

What does 45 mean in chess? ›

45 minutes for the whole game plus 45 extra seconds added to your clock after each move you make (increment).

Is 75% accuracy good in chess? ›

I'd say for me, anything over 80% leaves me feeling pretty good about my play. For a game that is at least 25 moves long where most of the moves were not forced, I would have to say that 90%+ accuracy (expert strength or better) is generally an indicator of a good game.

What is the maximum possible moves in chess? ›

This is the Shannon Number and represents all of the possible move variations in the game of chess. It is estimated there are between 10111 and 10123 positions (including illegal moves) in Chess. (If you rule out illegal moves that number drops dramatically to 1040 moves.

What is the 50/50 rule in chess? ›

(chess) A rule in professional chess that a player may declare the game to be a draw after 50 consecutive moves by each side without any capture or pawn movement, usually invoked during an inconclusive endgame.

How many chess moves are legal? ›

412 (Pawns) + 336 (Knights) + 560 (Bishops) + 896 (Rooks) + 1456 (Queens) + 420 (Kings) + 4 (Castling) = 4084 Legal Moves, though only 3878 of them are available to each player (206 moves are impossible for White, 206 others are impossible for Black).

Is a 96% accuracy cheating in chess com? ›

Constantly playing with an accuracy of 99% + for players below 2900 is an almost certain indication of cheating.

Can you play 100% accuracy chess? ›

Is it possible to get 100% accuracy? No. 99.7%.

How strong is a 1400 rated chess player? ›

1200-1400: a decent chess player. Has played a good amount of chess games, but makes lots of mistakes and still falls on elementary traps. 1400-1700: a proficent chess player, but doesn't know a lot about Chess theory, hasn't studied many openings or end games, and still needs to work on his pattern recognition skills.

What is illegal move in chess? ›

It is illegal to make a move that places or leaves one's king in check. The possible ways to get out of check are: Move the king to a square where it is not in check. Capture the checking piece (possibly with the king). Block the check by placing a piece between the king and the opponent's threatening piece.

What is the longest legal game of chess? ›

If in 50 consecutive moves neither side captures a piece or moves a pawn, then either side can claim a draw. Until one of the players dies. Theoretically unlimited, neither player has to claim a draw at the 50-move rule. The longest game with a decisive result (1-0 or 0-1) is 250-ish.

What is the longest chess game theory? ›

frrixz wrote: Actually, the longest possible chess game is 50*117 + 25 = 5875 moves long, because of the twenty-five move rule. When it's down to kings plus a queen or rook, only 25 moves can remain. There is a 25 move rule?

What is the quickest checkmate? ›

Fool's Mate is the fastest checkmate possible in chess, and it occurs after only two moves!

Can a pawn take a king? ›

Can a Pawn Kill a King in a Game of Chess? A pawn can't outright kill or capture the opponent's king in the same way it can with the opponent's pieces in general. This is because no attacking pieces can outright capture or kill the king—they can only trap or checkmate it.

Is there a 20 move rule in chess? ›

No pieces can be captured and no pawns can be moved. Every 20 moves, you can remove one of your opponents pawns.


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