Illegal Moves

An illegal move is a move that is not executed in accordance to article 3. An illegal move must be completed by the pressing of the clock, to be considered illegal. If the clock has not been pressed, we cannot talk of an illegal move yet.

There are different rules for standard chess and for Blitz/Rapid. The unique Blitz/Rapid rules don’t apply when the is adequate supervision for each game and the game is recorded by some means (electronic or via a helper).

Adequate supervision means at least one arbiter per game in Blitz and one arbiter per at most 3 games in Rapid. The games must also be recorded by some means (electronic or analogue).

Before judging a situation, you have to know which rules apply, the Standard or the Blitz/Rapid ones.

Moreover, if the time-control is Blitz/Rapid then one also needs to check what kind of supervision and recording of moves the game had. Then we can go on and enforce the rules.


  • In Standard chess and in Rapid/Blitz with adequate supervision, one illegal move can occur. The penalty for that illegal move is to add 2 minutes to the opponent in Standard and 1 minute in Rapid/Blitz. The second illegal move loses the game.
  • In Rapid/Blitz without adequate supervision, no illegal move can occur. The first illegal move loses the game but the arbiter has to call it immediately, or the opponent must claim it without playing another move. If the arbiter doesn’t see it, and the player doesn’t claim it, the illegal move will stand.
  • Remember that an illegal move is completed once a player presses his clock. If he/she doesn’t press the clock, the player is allowed to correct the illegal move according to article 4 (move what he first touched in a legal way).
  • Even though an illegal move is defined as one against article 3, castling by touching the Rook first is not considered an illegal move.
  • Promoting a pawn to an upside-down Rook is not an illegal move, but the arbiters shall consider the upside Rook as a Rook and not a Queen. The player has to be told of this.
  • Promoting a pawn to its final rank without replacing it with another piece and pressing the clock, is an illegal move.
  • A queen promotion of a wrong color is an irregularity, not an illegal move.
  • Touching a piece and moving another one, is not an illegal move and is not penalized as such one. However, such a move is against article 4. When the arbiter sees this violation, he/she must force the player to play the first piece touched. The opponent also has the right to call the arbiter and claim this violation. However if he makes his move, he forfeits the right to claim the violation.

When to claim or call an illegal move

In Standard and Blitz/Rapid with adequate supervision: Anytime. In Blitz/Rapid without adequate supervision: only before the opponent makes his/her next move.

To sum up:

Standard Chess:

  1. First illegal move = add 2 minutes to the opponent
  2. Second illegal move = loses the game

Blitz/Rapid Chess without adequate supervision (the majority of tournaments):

  1. First illegal move = loses the game

Rapid Chess with the luxury of adequate supervision:

  1. First illegal move = add 2 minute to the opponent
  2. Second illegal moves = loses the game

Blitz Chess with the luxury of adequate supervision:

  1. First illegal move = add 1 minute to the opponent
  2. Second illegal moves = loses the game

PS: Keep in mind that in case of a forfeit, if the opponent cannot checkmate by any series of legal moves, the game is drawn. This is valid for the penalties of illegal moves as well.

Now that you managed to reach the end of this page, here is your reward!

An illegal move is when you have the move and play something. If you don’t have the move and you play then its not illegal and it does not get penalized. 😀 😀 😀

If a player plays a legal move and then does not wait for the opponent to reply, but moves again an illegal move, then that move is not penalized, because he didn’t have the move.