Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is FIDE?

Q.With which organisations or individuals does the RTRC associate?

A. Fédération internationale des échec. The world chess federation governing body was formed in Paris in 1924.

A. Many of the commissions, for example: Arbiters, Chessin Schools, World Championship & Olympiad, Development, Events, Qualification, Technical, Swiss Pairings, Trainers, Chess Compositions, Chess for the Disabled Committee. Many federations and individuals also provide insights. Sometimes there are discussions with other sports.

Q. Why are the Laws and other regulations changed 1 July?

A. 1. There are a number of leagues, particularly in Europe that continue for six months. It would be difficult if the Laws changed in the middle of the season. 2. The

FIDE Congress usually takes place later in the year and this gives time to advertise changes.

Q. When was chess first invented?

A. It is thought around 600 AD in India.

Q. What is the origin of the word ‘chess’?

A. Probably a corruption of the Persian word for king, shah.

Q. Have the Laws of Chess changed in the last 1500 years?

A. Considerable changes were made in the 15th century. The scope of the queen and bishop in particular were increased then. This made it a much faster game. The Laws are reviewed every four years, but these are either just tidying up, or changes to the Tournament Rules.

Q. Introduction. Why do the Laws cover only over the board play?

A1. In 1996 problemists expressed concern that the Laws were reverting to the 50 move rule 5.2e. They had several positions which could only be solved with more than 50 moves without a capture or pawn move. Thus they requested that an exception be placed in the Laws. Instead, it was made clear that the Laws applied only to over the board play. Other forms of chess are entitled to create their own regulations.

A2. A separate appendix could be written for each of internet and correspondence chess, but this has never been requested and the commission does not have expertise in these fields.

Q. Preface. Why can’t the Laws of Chess cover all possible situations that may arise during a game?

A. There are about 39 examples in the Laws where the arbiter must use his discretion. It is thought that explaining all of them would make the Laws impossibly long. Also, new situations arise from time to time.

Q. Preface. Why does FIDE care about how games are played if they are not rated by FIDE?

A. The RTRC is of the opinion that players are best served by consistent rules everywhere.

Q. 1.2. Why isn’t it the object of the game to capture the opponent’s king? This would be simpler than checkmate.

A. This is the historical rule. Leaving the king en prise is thought not to be a fitting way to conclude a game. The etiquette is not to announce check.

Q. 1.2. Why is it forbidden to capture a king that has been left en prise?

A. Because it would then be difficult to sort out the mess.

Q. 2.2. Why is the piece that looks like a castle called a ‘rook’?

A. It is derived from the Sanskrit for ‘chariot’ which is what it first looked like.

Q. 2.2. Why is that design called ‘Staunton’?

A. The EnglishmenHoward Staunton was the leading player in 1830-1840. He lent his name to the pieces that were first crafted by the company, ‘Jaques’.

Q. 3.7d. Why does the en passant rule exist?

A. That the pawn can move two squares on its first move was introduced in the 15th century. En passant was introduced soon afterwards. Perhaps its purpose is to help prevent positions becoming blocked by rigid pawn chains.

Q. 3.8b. Why is the joint move by king and rook called ‘castling’?

A. This is unclear. But this special move was unknown until the 15th century.

Q. 5.2a. Why is stalemate a draw?

A. It was only standardised as a draw in the 19th century. Were the person stalemating his opponent to win, White would have an appreciably bigger advantage. Many games are abandoned as draws because of the stalemate rule.

Q. 6.1. How did they manage before chessclocks were introduced?

A. They were first used in London in 1883. Prior to that, sand timers were sometimes used but this was never satisfactory. There was little formal chess and the players had to rely on the cooperation of their opponent.

Q. 6.7. Why is there a default time?

A. Capablanca played Rubinstein in the 1920s. The first time control was after 2 hours and Capa turned up 110 minutes late. He played his moves in 10 minutes, but won. Since then there has been a default time. To arrive extremely late is offensive to: the opponent, arbiter, organiser, sponsor and spectators.

Q. 6.7. What happens if the organiser or chief arbiter fails to specify a default time.

A. This is a clear dereliction of their duties and of everybody else connected with the event, including the players. Then the default time would have to be the end of the session.

Q. 6.9. Please provide an example where the opponent cannot checkmate the player’s king by any series of legal moves.

A. The opponent has king and bishop against king and rook.

Q. 6.13. Why not rely on the equipment?

A. Example. Digital clocks are said to have ‘move counters’. But this is not correct. They record how many times the clock has been pressed. The clock may show 40 moves have been made. The player relaxes and his time runs out. It proves to be the case that a mistake had been made and the clock was pressed 40 times instead of 39.

Q. 8.1a. Why insist on algebraic notation?

A. Most international games are recorded and made accessible in this notation.

Q. 8.1.a. Why can’t the move be recorded in advance?

A. Players sometimes change their minds and this would be taking notes.

Q. 8.1d. Why record the offer of a draw?

A. It is part of the history of the game and sometimes helps in disputes.

Q. 8.7. Why sign the scoresheets?

The result according to the signed scoresheet stands except in extremely exceptional circumstances. For example, it may later be proven that the winner had cheated.

Q. 9.1. Why shouldn’t the players agree a draw whenever they want?

A. It can be very disheartening if a tournament has been arranged and then players have a very quick draw. Organisers are entitled to stipulate their own requirements. Players don’t have to enter.

Q. 9.1.b (1). Why should a draw be offered in such a precise fashion?

A. There is otherwise the danger of distracting the opponent.

Q. 9.2. This is the Law which has undergone the most extensive changes. Why?

A. It is difficult to express correctly and opinions have changed. It is often referred to as three-fold repetition, but this is incorrect. It is three-fold occurrence. The player used to lose 5 minutes if he was incorrect, even if this meant he lost the game.

Q. Why has 9.6 been introduced?

A. Sometimes players repeat endlessly. This may be children who do not understand how to claim a draw, or GMs who are simply being awkward. This brings the game into disrepute. With an increment, a very long game may lead to scheduling problems.

Q. Why is the term ‘perpetual check’ never used in the Laws?

A. Although quite easy to define, to prove it would require analysis. Take these two positions.


A it is clear that, provided White checks on the seventh rank, there is nothing Black can do about this. Eventually either a claim will be possible under 9.2 or 9.3.


B Considerable analysis is required to decide whether Black can get out of the checks and, even if he does so, whether he can win.

Q. 9.7.Why not simply list the positions where neither player can possible deliver checkmate?

A. There are too many, possibly millions, of them.

Q. Can you least give some examples?



Clearly there is no way to capture further material, or make any progress towards checkmate.


After Blacks forced 1. … Kh8, White can prevent immediate stalemate with 2. Nxf3 gxf3 3.Ba6 bxa6 (or 2.Ba6 bxa6 3.Nxf3 gxf3), when any White move leaves Black in stalemate anyway.


The only legal capture for Black is (an eventual) Kxc1, when White will be stalemated. (NB Some chess engines assess this as winning for Black, even after a long thinking time)



 To get out of check, both White and Black must capture on f1 with queens, when the final capture (Kxf1) stalemates Black.

Q. 10.1. Why aren’t more tournaments played 3/1/0?

A. Conservative attitudes. Also it is dangerous, particular in Swisses. Two people meet in the last round and it may be highly advantageous financially for one to throw the game to the other.

Q. 11.1. Please provide an example of players bringing the game into disrepute.

A. In 1977 two strong players met in the second round of the British U-21 Championship. First they moved their pawns to the third rank and their pieces up to the second. Then they moved their pawns to the fourth rank and their pieces to the third. Then they agreed a draw. Then they were forfeited. If the arbiters noticed this going on, why did they not forfeit them earlier?

Q. 11.2.Why would a player ever be allowed to leave the venue during play?

A. Example. A player asks the arbiter for permission to return to his room in order to replace his contact lenses which are causing him discomfort. If possible, the arbiter or an assistant should accompany him.

Q. 11.2. Why would a player ever be allowed to leave the playing area when it is his move?

A. Example. A player thinks for a very long time over his move. He gets up to leave. His opponent responds almost immediately. The arbiter questions the player why he is leaving the board. The response is that he wishes to go to the toilet.

Q. 11.2. What happens if the venue is on a high floor of a building and smoking is not permitted anywhere on the premises?

A. The definition of the venue must include the lift and area outside the building where people can smoke.

Q. 11.2. Often the spectator area (if any) is mixed in with the playing area. How does the arbiter cope with this?

A. He gives permission for this to happen.

Q. 11.3b. These rules about mobile phones seem very strict.

A. In some ways, they are less strict than the 2009-2014 Laws. We expect to have to amend them as conditions change. There are two separate concerns. The irritation when a phone makes a sound. About the possibility of cheating, it could be said, ‘The threat is stronger than the execution.’

When no arbiter is present (which means the games cannot be FIDE Rated) it is impossible to impose strict penalties. The disapproval of the other players will have to suffice.

Q. 11.3b. This is the only place where a player loses and the opponent wins, even if he cannot deliver checkmate according to 6.9. Why?

A. Because it is impossible to know whether the player cheated earlier in the game.

Q. 11.3b. Can a blind player use a recording device to record the moves during play?

A. Certainly. D.6 makes this clear. However, it would be extremely undesirable to use a mobile phone for this purpose.

Q. 11.7. If the player behaves so badly that he loses, why shouldn’t the opponent win?

A. It is possible that the player only started behaving badly after the opponent could no longer win according to 6.9. The arbiter may conclude that the opponent wouldn’t have been put off enough to justify his being awarded a full point.

Q. 11.9. Why shouldn’t the arbiter volunteer explanations?

A. There is a risk that this would constitute advice.

Q. 11.10. What are the powers of the Appeal Committee?

A. Quite considerable. They may go against the strict letter of the Laws if they think the result will otherwise be unfair. Their decision is final, but may be subject to a ‘judicial review’ in some countries.

Q. 12.2a. Please give an example of fair play.

A. A GM played Ne4-g6+. Black was very short of time and promptly resigned. The arbiter told Black that resignation concludes the game, but that he had the right to appeal. This he did – and the Appeals Committee upheld the loss. Had White said at the start, ‘I’ll make a legal knight move, forget about the resignation and then the game can continue,’ the arbiter might have accepted that.

Q. 12.7. Can the arbiter asked a spectator to give his view of events?

A. No, this would put him under unfair pressure. It is different if the spectator volunteers information. Assistants as in 12.4 are quite different. They have accepted an appointment.

Q. 12.8. Where, other than the playing venue, might the arbiter forbid the use of communication devices.

A. Example. Where the spectator area joins into the playing area (possibly a balcony).

Q. 12.9a. Surely a warning isn’t a penalty?

A. This is as in many other sports. The second time it happens, there may well be a more serious sanction.

Q. A.3b. Is it not very difficult to provide these conditions?

A. It is expected to apply only for major events.

Q. A.4a. Why has three moves been changed to ten?

A. It is thought that players play so quickly at the start, they may not notice incorrect settings.

Q. A.4b. The arbiter now intervenes after an illegal move is completed and also the first one loses the game. Why?

A. These changes are to make blitz and rapidplay more like each other. You will note there is hardly any difference between these two forms of chess.

Q. A.4c. It may be known that the claimant’s flag fell second. Why should he not win?

A. Because it takes a conscious effort to claim a win on time and is thus part of the thinking process.

Q. A.4d. Why just for two types of illegal positions does the arbiter declare the game drawn?

A. Because for these two, both kings in check, or a pawn on the first or last rank, it is obvious the position is illegal. 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 d5 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Nf3 happened recently. Had the game progressed further, it might have become unclear that the whole game was nonsense.

Q. A.4d. Why is the arbiter instructed to wait for the next move to be completed when he comes upon such an illegal position?

A. Because the player may make the claim before he completes his next move. Or the players may agree to correct the position without the intervention of the arbiter.

Q. A.4d. Both players have infringed the Laws. Why give them both a draw?

A. Because a loss for both players should be awarded only in the most exceptional circumstances.

Q. B.2. Why is the penalty just one minute for blitz?

A. Because two minutes in a five minute game is thought to be too much.

Q. B.2. Surely a player loses if he makes an illegal move in blitz or rapidplay?

A. Yes, but there arepenalties other than for illegal moves in Article 9, such as incorrect claims of a draw.

Q. A5 and B5.Why is this decided for the whole competition? Why not play according to the Competition Rules if there are very few games left in a given round?

A. It is felt that all the games in the competition should be played according to the same laws.

Q. E. Does anybody still adjourn games?

A. Example. In England some people prefer to adjourn rather than play quickplay finishes. They have only mechanical clocks so an increment isn’t possible. These games are not FIDE Rated.

Sometimes people have to adjourn games, for example due to ill-health or the venue suddenly becoming unusable.

Q. F. why is Chess960 in the Laws of Chess?

A. Because a large number of GMs made the request.

Q. G. Why have quickplay finishes been banished to an Appendix?

A. Because it is hoped these will be phased out in a few years.

Q. Why is the Glossary not an Appendix?

A. The Laws are only changed every four years after a close scrutiny. Making the glossary an addition means changes or additions can be made whenever it is thought desirable.