Changes in the Laws of Chess - What Should You Know?

  • PeterDoggers
  • on 7/1/14, 12:30 AM.

Bringing a phone to the playing hall may lead to a loss, an illegal move will lose the game also in rapid chess, and two illegal moves lead to a loss in classical chess. These are some of the changes in the new rules of chess, which come in effect today. The July 1, 2014 FIDE Laws of Chess, as they are officially called, were adopted at the FIDE Congress in Tallinn, Estonia in October 2013 and are now the rules that chess arbiters (and players!) need to follow.

Even though the game of chess hasn't changed much since the middle of the 19th century, the rules are a constant subject of change. Basically, every couple of years the world chess federations attempts to improve the regulations to the game, with mostly small, but sometimes more significant updates. 

During the last five years we have been playing the game under the rules that were adopted at the 79th FIDE Congress in Dresden, Germany in November 2008, which came into force on 1 July 2009. In the coming years, starting from today, we will be playing the game under the rules that were adopted at the 84th FIDE Congress in Tallinn, Estonia in October 2013.

So what are the biggest changes? According to Shaun Press, an International Arbiter from Papua New Guinea and member of the FIDE Rules and Tournament Regulations Commission, these are the most important changes:

  • The rule on how to promote have been added (previously it was just a definition of promotion)
  • Rules on electronic devices have been altered
  • Zero default has been removed
  • Two illegal moves lose (and only 1 at rapid and blitz)
  • Arbiters must flag and call illegal moves at rapid and blitz

Let's look at these changes in more detail.

1. Promotion rule

The definition of a promotion can be found in paragraphs 4.6 and 4.7:

The act of promotion may be performed in various ways:
the pawn does not have to be placed on the square of arrival,
removing the pawn and putting the new piece on the square of promotion may occur in any order.
If an opponent’s piece stands on the square of promotion, it must be captured.

When, as a legal move or part of a legal move, a piece has been released on a square, it cannot be moved to another square on this move. The move is considered to have been made in the case of:
promotion, when the player's hand has released the new piece on the square of promotion and the pawn has been removed from the board.

Sub-paragraph 7.5a, which falls under the secion irregularities, also mentions promotion:

If the player has moved a pawn to the furthest distant rank, pressed the clock, but not replaced the pawn with a new piece, the move is illegal. The pawn shall be replaced by a queen of the same colour as the pawn.

This means that there cannot be any discussion anymore about a pawn on the eighth rank, and which piece it represents, after the clock has been pressed. In that case, from now on it will always be a queen.

2. Electronic devices

Under article 11, about ‘the conduct of the players’, a new subparagraph has been added:

During play, a player is forbidden to have a mobile phone and/or other electronic means of communication in the playing venue. If it is evident that a player brought such a device into the playing venue, he shall lose the game. The opponent shall win. 

The rules of a competition may specify a different, less severe, penalty.
The arbiter may require the player to allow his clothes, bags or other items to be inspected, in private. The arbiter or a person authorised by the arbiter shall inspect the player and shall be of the same gender as the player. If a player refuses to cooperate with these obligations, the arbiter shall take measures in accordance with Article 12.9.

This is probably the article that will affect the average tournament player the most. Especially when tournament organizers decide not to use a less severe penalty (or simply don't pay attention to the new rules!), you can actually lose a game when you are holding a mobile in your hand - even just for switching it off.

3. Zero default

Subparagraph 6.7a deals with what is called the ‘default time’:

 The rules of a competition shall specify in advance a default time. Any player who arrives at the chessboard after the default time shall lose the game unless the arbiter decides otherwise.

This is a subtle difference with the old rule, which specifically mentioned a default time of 0 minutes.

4. Two illegal moves lose

Also under the section about irregularities, a new subparagraph can be found about illegal moves. You can do it only once, but not twice:

After the action taken under Article 7.5.a, for the first completed illegal move by a player the arbiter shall give two minutes extra time to his opponent; for the second completed illegal move by the same player the arbiter shall declare the game lost by this player. However, the game is drawn if the position is such that the opponent cannot checkmate the player’s king by any possible series of legal moves.

5. Arbiters must flag and call illegal moves at rapid and blitz

A big change is that, starting from July 1st, the rules for rapid chess and blitz chess are almost the same. This means that, for example, also in rapid games an illegal move will lead to an immediate loss. Besides, from now on arbiters must flag and call illegal moves:

An illegal move is completed once the player has pressed his clock. If the arbiter observes this he shall declare the game lost by the player, provided the opponent has not made his next move. If the arbiter does not intervene, the opponent is entitled to claim a win, provided the opponent has not made his next move. However, the game is drawn if the position is such that the opponent cannot checkmate the player’s king by any possible series of legal moves. If the opponent does not claim and the arbiter does not intervene, the illegal move shall stand and the game shall continue. Once the opponent has made his next move, an illegal move cannot be corrected unless this is agreed by the players without intervention of the arbiter.

Other changes

Some of the other changes (with the relevant paragraphs between parentheses):

  • If a player cannot execute his moves, write down his moves and/or push the clock for some reason, an assistant may do so (4.9).
  • In case of a draw claim based on a threefold repetition or the 50-move rule, the arbiter may now also stop the clock; not just the player (9.5).
  • A player may now appeal against any decision of the arbiter, even if the player has signed the scoresheet (11.10).

Paragraph 9.6 is new altogether:

If one or both of the following occur(s) then the game is drawn:
the same position has appeared, as in 9.2b, for at least five consecutive alternate moves by each player.
any consecutive series of 75 moves have been completed by each player without the movement of any pawn and without any capture. If the last move resulted in checkmate, that shall take precedence.

The phrase “the game is drawn” basically means that in such cases the arbiter may (should?) stop the game and declare it a draw. So this basically avoids the situation that the defending player doesn't know that he can claim, and his opponent keeps on trying.

completely new paragraph has been added for a quickplay finish (when all the remaining moves must be completed in a finite time). This only applies to standard play and rapidplay games without increment and not to blitz games:

If the player having the move has less than two minutes left on his clock, he may request that a time delay or cumulative time of an extra five seconds be introduced for both players, if possible. This constitutes the offer of a draw. If refused, and the arbiter agrees to the request, the clocks shall then be set with the extra time; the opponent shall be awarded two extra minutes and the game shall continue.

Hopefully after reading this you will be fully ready to start a game of chess under the new rules!

46820 reads 65 comments
6 votes


  • 2 years ago


    They does this thing in England where you are allowed to keep your phone on you but switched off for a small fine of £1 for the whole event which goes to charity. That is ok so if you phone goes off and you have not paid your fine then you will get a more worse punishment but if it goes off when you have registred the phone you just lose that game 

  • 2 years ago



    That is correct. Note that for unrated players, for the first 30 games the K value is 40 as well (independent of their age). In both cases, increasing and decreasing rating is quite fast. The FIDE web page about this is

  • 2 years ago



    Can some one confirm that K factor will be 40 for kids under 18 (subject to 2300 rating). If this is true, does that mean, kids can increase and decrease their ratings quite fast as compared to adults.



  • 2 years ago


    Except that the new rules say there is *no* penalty unless called out by the opponent or the arbiter. Which new rules are the whole point of this article. I hate to be Captain Obvious here.


    Quote: " If the opponent does not claim and the arbiter does not intervene, the illegal move shall stand and the game shall continue."

  • 2 years ago

    NM praveenb2002

    There is such a big penalty if someone plays an illegal move in rapid or blitz.

  • 2 years ago


    My point exactly.

  • 2 years ago


    "allow illegal moves"

    I think the rules will mostly affect OTB tournaments.  Obviously software makes the rule moot, since it does not allow illegal moves.

  • 2 years ago



  • 2 years ago


    So is going to allow illegal moves in their Blitz games? Because now an illegal move is only illegal if called by the opponent or arbiter.

  • 2 years ago


    "Can anyone tell me, In a Blitz or a rapid event if an illegal position continue about 2 to 3 moves forward, then who is going to win the game?"

    Many things can happen if an illegal move is made, however you talk about an illegal position, that could not have occurred with only legal moves. If this is because both kings are in check, or a pawn on the rank furthest from its starting position, the arbiter most likely will declare a draw. See A.4(d). If white has two bishops on white-squared diagonals, black may claim an illegal move and win the game. It all depends, who claims what, and how the arbiter interprets the evidence.

  • 2 years ago


    Can any one tell me ,In a Blitz or a rapid event if a illegle psoition continute about 2 to 3 moves forword, the who is going to win the game?

  • 2 years ago


    @YoussefSlayby: Any promotion should replace the pawn with the piece (in your example knight), before pressing the clock. If that happens, the promotion is legal. If you push the pawn to the eighth rank, and then press the clock, the move is illegal and the arbiter in a long game control would give the opponent 2 minutes and replace the pawn with a queen. The player cannot then ask for a knight.

    In a Rapid or Blitz game, this pawn push will lose the game, because a single illegal move means losing the game.

  • 2 years ago


    rule 7.5 a ... what if somebody needed to trade a pawn by a knight .??? sometimes it could happen ....

  • 2 years ago


    I am satisfied with all the rule in the exception of the Amagadon rule where a draw odd of black is equal to a win.I think this rule schould be changed.A blitz game should be played as long as possible to determine the winner just like penalty in soccer.Thanks!

  • 2 years ago


    @MindWalk: It won't work with analog clocks, obviously. If no digital clocks are available, then this new rule will not come into play.

  • 2 years ago


    With the advent of internet chess, it is possible OTB to make accidental illegal moves.  I sometimes think that the "computer" will ensure that the move is placed correctly, and I have accidently moved a knight like a bishop.  Fortunately the opponent caught the mistake, but it was very embarrasing.

  • 2 years ago


    @Zinsch: Thanks man I feel dumb; I thought it meant that if the opponent had promoted a piece and it were available to capture that it had to be.. like checkers..

  • 2 years ago


    Zinsch and Merlinovich:  Thank you both for the useful clarifications!

  • 2 years ago


    So, there's no increment, the clock being used is an analog clock (no time delay available), and two players get down to the point where one player requests a time delay. Does the TD have to provide a digital clock with time delay for them to use? (How do you measure twenty seconds on an analog clock?)

  • 2 years ago

    IM chesskingdreamer

    @ MSC157 

    No, it dosen't. The rule only works for a finite time control like 120 minutes, or like 2 hours, SD 1 hour. Then you can do that, but in the time control there has to be no delay, or incremnt.

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