FIDE Laws of Chess 1992/1993

As a special service of the retro Corner, you will find a version of these ruled with change marks (insertions, deletions) HERE.


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 arbiters have the necessary competence, sound judgement and absolute objectivity. Too detailed a rule might deprive the arbiter of his freedom of judgement and thus prevent him from finding the solution to a problem dictated by fairness, logic and special factors.

F.I.D.E. appeals to all chess players and federations to accept this view. Any chess federation that already operates, or wants to introduce, more detailed rules is free to do so, provided:

they do not conflict in any way with the official F.I.D.E. Laws of Chess;
they are limited to the territory of the federation in question; and
they are not valid for any F.I.D.E. match, championship, or qualifying event, or to a F.I.D.E. title or rating tournament.

In the Articles of these Laws, "he", "him" and "his" can refer to "she", "her" and "hers".

Article 1: The Chessboard

The game of chess is played between two opponents by moving pieces on a square board called a "chessboard".


The chessboard is composed 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 to the right of each player is white.


The eight vertical rows of squares are called "files".


The eight horizontal rows of squares are called "ranks".


The lines of squares of the same colour, touching corner to corner, are called "diagonals".

Article 2: The Pieces


At the beginning of the game, one player has 16 light-coloured pieces (the "white" pieces), the other has 16 dark-coloured pieces (the "black" pieces.


These pieces are as follows:
A white king: K   A black king: k
A white queen: Q   A black queen: q
Two white rooks: R   Two black rooks: r
Two white knights: N   Two black knights: n
Two white bishops: B   Two black bishops: b
Eight white pawns: P   Eight black pawns: p


The initial position of the pieces on the chessboard is as follows:

Article 3: The Right To Move


The player with the white pieces commences the game. The players alternate in making one move at a time until the game is completed.


A player is said to "have the move" when his opponent's move has been completed.

Article 4: The General Definition Of The Move


With the exception of castling (Article 5.1(b)), a move is the transfer by a player of one of his pieces from one square to another square, which is either vacant or occupied by an opponent's piece.
[A capture is, therefore, merely a certain type of move.]


No piece, except the rook when castling (Article 5.1(b)) and the knight (Article 5.5), may cross a square occupied by another piece.


A piece played to a square occupied by an opponent's piece captures it as part of the same move. The captured piece must be removed immediately from the chessboard by the player making the capture (see Article 5.6(c) for capturing "en passant").

Article 5: The Moves Of The Pieces

5.1 The King:

Except when castling, the king moves to any adjoining square that is not attacked by an opponent's piece.
Castling is a move of the king and either rook, counting as a single move of the king and executed as follows: the king is transferred from its original square two squares toward either rook on the same rank; then that rook is transferred over the king to the square the king has just crossed.
If a player touches a rook and then his king, he may not castle with that rook and the situation will by governed by Articles 7.2 and 7.3 [Touched Piece rules].
If a player, intending to castle, touches the king first, or king and rook at the same time, and it then appears that castling is illegal, the player may choose either to move his king or to castle on the other side, provided that castling on that side is legal. If the king has no legal move, the player is free to make any legal move.
Castling is [permanently] illegal:
if the king has already been moved; or
with a rook that has already been moved.
Castling is prevented for the time being:
if the king's original square, or the square which the king must pass over, or that which it is to occupy, is attacked by an opponent's piece; or
if there is any piece between the king and the rook with which castling is to be effected [i.e. castling may still be legal even if the rook is attacked or, when castling queenside, passes over an attacked square] .

5.2 The Queen.

The queen moves to any square (except as limited by Article 4.2) [No leapfrogging] on the file, rank, or diagonals on which it stands.

5.3 The Rook.

The rook moves to any square (except as limited by Article 4.2) on the file or rank on which it stands.

5.4 The Bishop.

The bishop moves to any square (except as limited by Article 4.2) on the diagonals on which it stands.

5.5 The Knight.

The knight's move is composed of two different steps; first, it makes one step of one single square along its rank or file, and then, still moving away from the square of departure, one step of one single square on a diagonal. It does not matter if the square of the first step is occupied.

5.6 The Pawn.

The pawn may move only forward [except as limited by Article 4.2].
Except when making a capture, it advances from its original square either one or two vacant squares along the file on which it is placed, and on subsequent moves it advances one vacant square along the file. When capturing, it advances one square along either of the diagonals on which it stands.
A pawn, attacking a square crossed by an opponent's pawn which has [just] been 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 may only be made in [immediate] reply to such an advance, and is called an "en passant" capture.
On reaching the last rank, a pawn must immediately be exchanged, as part of the same move, for [either] a queen, a rook, a bishop, or a knight, of the same colour as the pawn, at the player's choice and without taking into account the other pieces still remaining on the chessboard. This exchange of a pawn for another piece is called "promotion", and the effect of the promoted piece is immediate [and permanent!].
In a competition, if a new piece required for the promotion is not immediately available, the player may stop his clock to ask for the assistance of the arbiter. The player must complete his move correctly, in the manner specified in Article 5.6(d).

Article 6: The Completion Of The Move

A move is completed:


in the case of the transfer of a piece to a vacant square, when the player's hand has released the piece;


in the case of a capture, when the captured piece has been removed from the chessboard and the player, having placed his own piece on its new square, has released this [capturing] piece from his hand;


in the case of castling, when the player's hand has released the rook on the square [previously] crossed by the king. When the player has released the king from his hand, the move is not yet completed, but the player no longer has the right to make any move other than castling on that side, if this is legal;


in the case of the promotion of a pawn, when the pawn has been removed from the chessboard and the player's hand has released the new piece after placing it on the promotion square. If the player has released from his hand the pawn that has reached the promotion square, the move is not yet completed, but the player no longer has the right to play the pawn to another square.


When determining whether the prescribed number of moves has been made in the allotted time, the last move is not considered complete until after the player has stopped his clock. This applies to all situations except those governed by Articles 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, 10.4 and 10.6. [i.e. when the move has been completed in the sense of Articles 6.1-6.4, and the game ends immediately after the move in question, which may, for example, put the player's opponent into checkmate. This Law was introduced to prevent the situation where a player returns to the board to claim a win on time, possibly an hour after being checkmated!] .

Article 7: The Touched Piece


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.
[If a player's opponent is absent from the chessboard, it is best to inform one of his team-mates, or some other witness.]


Except for the above case, if the player having the move deliberately touches on the board:
one or more pieces of the same colour, he must move or capture the first piece he touched that can be moved or captured; or
one of his own pieces and one of his opponent's pieces, he must capture his opponent's piece with his own piece; or, if this is illegal, move or capture the first piece he touched that can be moved or captured. If it is impossible to establish which piece was touched first, the player's piece shall be considered the touched piece.


If none of the touched pieces has a legal move (or if none of the opponent's pieces which were touched can be captured legally), the player is free to make any legal move.


If a player wishes to claim that his opponent has violated Article 7.2, he must do so before he himself touches a piece.
[Note that the clause "deliberately touches" protects a player from having to move a piece accidentally touched by his elbow/wrist etc]

Article 8: Illegal Positions


If, during a game, it is found that an illegal move was made, the position shall be reinstated to what it was before the illegal move was made. The game shall then continue by applying the rules of Article 7 to the move replacing the illegal move. If the position cannot be reinstated, the game shall be annulled and a new game played. This applies to all sessions of play, and to a game awaiting a decision by adjudication.
[Note that this discovery of an illegal move must be made while the game is still in progress, before resignation or the agreement of a draw. The only possible exception can be if the illegal move itself would theoretically end the game: anyone trying the trick 1. e2-e4 e7-e5; 2. Bf1-c4 Ng8-f6; 3. Qd1xf7 "mate" may be penalised under Article 10.17! Note that the act of playing an illegal move, at ANY stage of the game, does not IN ITSELF forfeit the game.]


If, during a game, one or more pieces have been accidentally displaced and incorrectly replaced, the position before the displacement occurred shall be reinstated, and the game shall continue. If the position cannot be reinstated, the game shall be annulled and a new game played.


If a player moves and in the course of this inadvertently knocks over a piece, or several pieces, he must re-establish the position in his own time.


If, after an adjournment, the position is incorrectly set up, the position as it was on adjournment must be set up again and the game continued.


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


If a game has begun with colours incorrectly reversed, then it shall continue if more than one quarter of the time allocated to both players to the first time control has elapsed. Earlier, the arbiter can arrange for a new game to start with the correct colours, if the event's timetable is not excessively disrupted.


If, during a game, it is found that the board has been placed contrary to Article 1.2, the position reached should be transferred to a correctly-placed board, and the game continued.
[In the situations covered by Articles 8.5-8.7, a spectator is justified in pointing out to the arbiter the error he has noticed. In Article 8.7, the implicit assumption is that the relative positions of the pieces relative to one another were correct] .

Article 9: Check


The king is in "check" when the square it occupies is attacked by one or more of the opponent's pieces; in this case, the latter is/are said to be "checking" the king. A player may not make a move which leaves his king on a square attacked by any of his opponent's pieces.


Check must be parried by the move immediately following. If any check cannot be parried, the king is said to be "checkmated" ("mated").


Declaring a check is not obligatory.
[Merely polite! Playing an illegal move does not imply the loss of the game: see Article 8.1.]

Article 10: The Completed Game


The game is won by the player who has checkmated his opponent's king. This immediately ends the game.


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


The game is drawn when the king of the player who has the move is not in check, and this player cannot make any legal move. The player's king is then said to be "stalemated". This immediately ends the game.
[If the stalemating move was actually legal!] .


The game is drawn when one of the following endings arises:
king against king;
king against king with only bishop or knight;
king and bishop against king and bishop, with both bishops on diagonals of the same colour.
This immediately ends the game.


A player having a bare king cannot win the game. A draw shall be declared if the opponent of a player with a bare king oversteps the time limit (Articles 10.13 and 10.14) or seals an illegal move (Articles 10.16).


The game is drawn upon agreement between the two players. This immediately ends the game.


A proposal of a draw under the provisions of Article 10.6 may be made by a player only at the moment when he has just moved a piece. On then proposing a draw, he starts the clock of his opponent. The latter may accept the proposal, which is always to be taken as unconditional, or he may reject it either orally or by completing a move. A draw offer is valid until the opponent has accepted or rejected it.
[The gamesmanship question "Are you playing for a win?" can be considered as an offer of a draw] .


If a player proposes a draw while his opponent's clock is running and his opponent is contemplating his move, the opponent may still agree to the draw or reject the offer. A player who offers a draw in this manner may be penalised by the arbiter.


If a player proposes a draw while his own clock is running or after his move has been sealed, the opponent may postpone his decision until after he has seen the first player's move.


The game is drawn, upon a claim by the player having the move, when the same position, for the third time:
is about to appear, if he first writes the move on his scoresheet and declares to the arbiter his intention of making this move; or
has just appeared, the same player having the move each time.
The position is considered the same if pieces of the same kind and colour occupy the same squares, and if all the possible moves of all the pieces are the same, including the rights to castle [at some future time] or to capture a pawn "en passant".


If a player executes a move without having claimed a draw for one of the reasons stated in Article 10.10, he loses the right to claim a draw. This right is restored to him, however, if the same position [later] appears again, the same player having the move.


The game is drawn when a player having the move claims a draw and demonstrates that at least [the last?] 50 consecutive moves have been made by each side without the capture of any piece and without the movement of any pawn. This number of 50 moves can be increased for certain positions, provided that this increase in number and these positions have been clearly announced by the organisers before the event starts.
[The claim then proceeds according to 10.13. The most extreme case yet known of a position which might take more than 50 moves to win is king, rook and bishop against king and two knights, which can run for 223 moves between captures!]


If a player claims a draw under the provisions of Articles 10.10 and/or 10.12, the arbiter must first stop the clocks while the claim is being investigated. In the absence of the arbiter, a player may stop both clocks to seek the arbiter's assistance.
If the claim is found to be correct, the game is drawn.
If the claim is found to be incorrect, the arbiter shall then add five minutes to the claimant's used time. If this means that the claimant has [now] overstepped the time limit, his game will be declared lost. Otherwise, the game will be continued, and a player who has indicated a move according to Article 10.10(a) is obliged to execute this move on the chessboard.
A player who has made a claim under these Articles cannot withdraw the claim.


The game is lost by a player who has not completed the prescribed number of moves in the allotted time, unless his opponent has only the king remaining, in which case the game is drawn. (See Articles 6.5 and 10.5.)
[Situations when Articles 10.1-10.4 or 10.6 apply are the only other exceptions.]


The game is lost by a player who arrives at the chessboard more than one hour late, for the beginning of the game or for the resumption of an adjourned game. The time of delay is counted from the [scheduled] start of the playing session. However, in the case of an adjourned game, if the player who made the sealed move is the late player, the game is decided otherwise if:
the absent player has won the game by virtue of the fact that the sealed move is checkmate; or
the absent player has produced a drawn game by virtue of the fact that the sealed move is stalemate, or if one of the positions in Article 10.4 has arisen as a consequence of the sealed move; or
the player present at the chessboard has lost the game according to Article 10.14 by exceeding his time limit.


At the resumption, the game is lost by a player whose recording of his sealed move:
is ambiguous; or
would result in a false move the true significance of which is impossible to establish; or
would result in an illegal move.


The game is lost by a player who, during the game, refuses to comply with the Laws. If both players refuse to comply with the Laws, or if both players arrive at the chessboard more than one hour late, the game shall be declared lost by both players.

Article 11: The Recording Of Games


In the course of play, each player is required to record the game (his own moves and those of his opponent), move after move, as clearly and legibly as possible in the Algebraic Notation, on the scoresheet prescribed for the competition. It is irrelevant whether the player first makes his move and then records it, or vice versa.
[The use of Descriptive Notation or foreign versions of Algebraic Notation is tolerated in internal tournaments, e.g. weekend congresses.]


If a player has less than five minutes on his clock until the time control, he is not obliged to meet the requirements of Article 11.1. As soon as the special device (e.g. the flag) on the clock indicates the end of his allotted time, the player must immediately complete his record of the game by filling in the moves omitted from his scoresheet.
[A player may be justified in restarting his opponent's clock, without having to make a move, if his opponent has more than 5 minutes left and is not fulfilling the requirements of Article 11.1. A player cannot stop his clock unless he has recorded at least his opponent's last move and all previous moves of the game.]


If both players cannot keep score, the arbiter, or his deputy, must endeavour to be present and keep score. The arbiter must not intervene unless one flag falls, and until then he should not indicate in any manner to the players how many moves have been made.


If Article 11.2 does not apply, and a player refuses to record the game according to Article 11.1, then Article 10.17 should be applied. [Failure to comply with the Laws of Chess].


If a player does not refuse to comply with the arbiter's request for a completed scoresheet, but declares that he cannot complete his scoresheet without consulting his opponent's, the request for this scoresheet must be made to the arbiter, who will determine whether the scoresheet can be completed before the time-control without inconveniencing the other player. The latter cannot refuse his scoresheet, because the scoresheet belongs to the organisers and the reconstruction will be made in his opponent's time. In all other cases, the scoresheets can be completed only after the time-control.


If, after the time-control, one player alone has to complete his scoresheet, he will do so before making another move, and with his clock running if his opponent has moved.


If, after the time-control, both players need to complete their scoresheets, both clocks will be stopped until the two scoresheets are completed, if necessary with the help of the arbiter's scoresheet and/or a chessboard under the control of the arbiter, who should have recorded the actual game position beforehand.
[In case this position gets disturbed!]


If, in Article 11.6, the arbiter sees that the scoresheets alone cannot help in the reconstruction of the game, he will act as in Article 11.7.


If it proves impossible to reconstruct the moves as prescribed under Article 11.7, the game shall continue. In this case, the next move played will be considered to be the first one of the following time-control.

Article 12: The Chess Clock


Each player must make a certain number of moves in an allotted period of time, these two factors being specified in advance. The time saved by a player during one period is added to his time available for the next period.


Control of each player's time is effected by means of a clock equipped with a flag (or other special device) for this purpose. The flag is considered to have fallen when the arbiter observes the fact, or when the arbiter determines that the allotted time has been exceeded, even though the flag, because of a defect, has not fallen when the end of the minute hand has passed the end of the flag. In cases where no arbiter is present, the flag is considered to have fallen when a claim to that effect has been made by a player.


At the time determined for the start of the game, the clock of the player who has the white pieces is started. During the game, each of the players, having completed his move, stops his own clock and starts his opponent's clock.


Every indication given by a clock is considered to be conclusive in the absence of evident defects. A player who wishes to claim any such defect must do so as soon as he himself has become aware of it, but not later than immediately after his flag has fallen at the time-control. A clock with an obvious defect should be replaced, and the time used by each player up to the time the game was interrupted should be indicated on the new clock as accurately as possible. The arbiter shall use his best judgment in determining what times shall be shown on the new clock. If the arbiter decides to add time used to the clock of one or both of the players, he shall under no circumstances (except as provided for in Article 10.13(b)) leave a player with:
less than five minutes to the time-control; or
less than one minute for every move to the time-control.


If the game needs to be interrupted for some reason which requires action by the arbiter, the clocks shall be stopped by the arbiter. This should be done, for example, in the case of an illegal position being corrected, in the case of a defective clock being changed, or if the piece which a player has declared he wishes to exchange for a promoted pawn is not immediately available, or to claim a draw by repetitions of position or under the 50 moves rule. If the arbiter is not present, a player may stop both clocks in order to seek the arbiter's assistance.


In the case of Articles 8.1 and 8.2 [Illegal Positions], when it is not possible to determine the exact time used by each player up to the moment when the irregularity occurred, each player shall be allotted up to that moment a time proportional to that indicated by the clock when the irregularity was ascertained. For example, after Black's 30th move it is found that an irregularity took place at the 20th move. For these 30 moves, the clock shows 90 minutes for White and 60 minutes for Black, so it is assumed that the times used by the two players for the first 20 moves were as follows:

for White: 90 x 20/30 = 60 minutes
for Black: 60 x 20/30 = 40 minutes

This rule must not be used to leave a player with less than five minutes to the time control, or less than one minute for every move to the time control. (The most common occasion when this problem arises is immediately after an adjournment, when the clock times can be most easily adjusted using the times on the sealed move envelope.)


A resignation or an agreement to draw (Articles 10.2 and 10.4) remains valid even if it is found later that a flag had fallen.


If both flags have fallen at virtually the same time [or if both have fallen before a claim is made by either player] and the arbiter is unable to establish clearly which flag fell first, the game shall continue. In this case, if the scoresheets cannot be brought up to date showing that the time control has been passed, the next move played will be considered to be the first one of the following time-control.


The arbiter [and everyone else, for that matter] shall refrain from calling a player's attention to the fact that his opponent has made a move or that the player has forgotten to stop his clock after he has made a move, or informing the player how many moves he has made, etc.

Article 13: The Adjournment Of The Game


If a game is not finished at the end of the time prescribed for play, the player having the move must write his move in unambiguous notation on his scoresheet, put his scoresheet and that of his opponent in an envelope, seal the envelope, and only then stop his clock without starting his opponent's clock. Until he has stopped the clocks, the player retains the right to change his sealed move. If, after being told by the arbiter to seal his move, the player makes a move on the chessboard, he must write that same move on his scoresheet as his sealed move.
A player having the move who adjourns the game before the end of the playing session will have added to the used time on his clock the whole of the remaining time to the end of the session.


Upon the envelope shall be indicated:
the names of the players;
the position immediately before the sealed move;
the time used by each player;
the name of the player who has sealed the move; and
the number of the sealed move.


The arbiter is responsible for the safekeeping of the envelope and should check the accuracy of the information on it.

Article 14: The Resumption of the Adjourned Game


When the game is resumed, the position immediately before the sealed move shall be set up on the chessboard, and the time used by each player when the game was adjourned shall be indicated on the clocks.


The envelope shall be opened only when the player who must reply to the sealed move is present. This player's clock shall be started after the sealed move has been made on the chessboard.
If two players have agreed to a draw and announce their decision to the arbiter; or
if one of the players in an adjourned game notifies the arbiter that he resigns and it is found, when the envelope has been opened, that the sealed move is invalid according to Article 10.16, then in (a) the draw stands and in (b) the resignation is still valid.


If the player having to respond to the sealed move is absent, his clock shall be started but the envelope containing the sealed move shall be opened only when he arrives. The player's clock shall then be stopped and restarted after the sealed move has been played on the chessboard.


If the player who has sealed the move is absent, the player having the move is not obliged to reply to the sealed move on the chessboard. He has the right to record his move in reply on his scoresheet, to seal the scoresheet in an envelope, to stop his clock and start his opponent's clock. The envelope should then be put into safekeeping and opened on the opponent's arrival.


If the envelope containing the move recorded in accordance with Article 13 has disappeared:
the game shall be resumed from the position at the time of adjournment and with the clock times recorded at the time of adjournment;
if it is impossible to re-establish the position, the game is annulled and a new game must be played;
if the time used at the time of the adjournment cannot be re-established, this question is decided by the arbiter. The player who sealed the move makes it on the board.


If, upon resumption of the game, the time used has been incorrectly indicated on either clock, and if either player points this out before making his first move, the error must be corrected. If the error is not so established, the game continues without correction, unless the arbiter feels that the consequences will be too severe.


The duration of each resumption session shall be controlled by the wall clock, with the starting time and the finishing time announced in advance.

Article 15: The Conduct Of The Players

15.1 Prohibitions:

During play, the players are forbidden to make use of hand-written, printed or otherwise recorded matter, or to analyse the game on another chessboard. They are also forbidden to have recourse to the advice of a third party, whether solicited or not.
[The only possible exception is that a player in a team competition may be allowed to ask his captain "Should I accept his offer of a draw?" or "Does the team need me to play for a win?". The captain or acting-captain must limit his reply to an immediate "Yes", "No", or "It's up to you", without supplying his answer after a detailed analysis of the position, and without making his answer emphatic in any way. This captain, like all his players, is not allowed to receive opinions, from any source, on the states of play of any games still in progress] .
The use of notes made during the game as an aid to memory is also forbidden, aside from the actual recording of the moves and the times on the clocks.
No analysis is permitted in the playing rooms during play or during resumption sessions.
It is forbidden to distract or annoy the opponent in any manner whatsoever. This includes the persistent offering of a draw.


Infractions of the rules indicated in Article 15.1 may incur penalties even to the extent of the loss of the game (see Article 16.5).

Article 16: The Arbiter

An arbiter should be designated to control the competition. His duties are:


to see that the Laws are strictly observed;


to supervise the progress of the competition, to establish that the prescribed time-limit has not been exceeded by the players, to arrange the order of resumption of play of adjourned games, to see that the arrangements contained in Article 13 are observed (i.e. to see that the information on the envelope is correct), to keep the sealed-move envelope until the resumption of the adjourned game, etc;


to enforce the decisions he may make in disputes that have arisen during the course of the competition;


to act in the best interests of the competition to ensure that a good playing environment is maintained and that the players are not disturbed by each other or by the audience;


to impose penalties on the players for any fault or infraction of the Laws. These penalties may include a warning, a time penalty (by adding to the player's used time or to his opponent's unused time) or even the loss of the game.

Article 17: Scoring

For a won game, the winner gets 1 (one) point and the loser 0 (zero). For a draw, each player gets 1/2 (half) a point.

Article 18: The Interpretation of the Laws

In case of doubts as to the application or interpretation of the Laws, F.I.D.E. will examine the evidence and render official decisions. Rulings published are binding on all affiliated federations. All proposals and questions about interpretations should be submitted by member federations, with complete data.

Article 19: Validity

This English text is slightly modified from the authentic version of the Laws of chess, as adopted by the 1984 F.I.D.E. Congress, and subsequently amended by the 1988 and 1992 F.I.D.E. Congresses. These Laws took effect from 1 January 1993.