Understanding the Laws (Changes as of 2018)

As of January 2018 we have the new Laws of Chess in effect. You can find the official text of the laws here: Fide Laws of Chess taking effect from 1 January 2018  Actually, the laws of chess changed in July 2017. We had some very important and significant changes then. However, due to the ambiguity of the text, they had to be revised, and we ended up with another version in 2018.

What were the greatest changes in July 2017?

The changes that occurred in July 2017 and that are still valid from January 2018 are the following.

  • New types of illegal moves were added. Now it is illegal to make a move by using two hands (before it was only a violation of article 4) and it is also illegal to press ones own clock without making a move.
  • Players can now agree to a draw only if they have made at least 1 move each. That means that the game will be rated, one can no longer agree to a draw without having the game rated!
  • The default time now is zero, if the tournament regulations do not specify one.
  • If players play with reverse colors, the game will now be canceled and a new one will be played (with the correct colors) if they have played less than 10 moves.
  • The arbiter now may declare a game drawn if the same position has occurred 5 times, not necessarily in a consecutive order.
  • It is now the duty of the players to examine 3-fold repetition and 50-move draw claims with the supervision of the arbiter.
  • Players can now make draw claims in blitz and rapid by writing down the moves.

What are the new changes as of January 2018?

The most important change is that we now have 2 illegal moves for blitz and rapid games (the second one loses provided the opponent has a series of legal moves that lead to checkmate) with or without adequate supervision. This way the competition rules that apply to standard chess are now the same, regarding the number of illegal moves for the blitz and rapid games.

If you want to test your skills and knowledge of the new Laws of Chess, you can try this great Quiz by the British Chess Arbiters’  Association.

As it was before 2018, the Preface hasn’t changed and is still considered important.

The Preface is considered to be the most important part of the Laws, for it encourages the arbiter to use common sense and judge situations objectively and according to special factors.

Article 1, 2 and 3 explain what chess is, the moves etc.

Article 4 is the first important article, for it deals with how to perform the moves. This includes how to perform castling, promotion, and what is valid if a player touches a different piece and moves another.

Article 5 defines the end of the game. It talks about checkmate, resignation, stalemate, dead position and draw.

Article 6 is the “Clock Article” and one you may read and study far too many times.

Article 7 deals with irregularities and illegal moves. It also defines the penalties of these.

Article 8 defines the rules regarding writing the game and the score-sheets.

Article 9 is a very important article, for it discusses the cases of the Drawn Game.

Article 10 just defines the points of the game.

Article 11 is about the behavior of the players. It defines things from where they can have a break, how they can appeal to an arbiters decision, to anti-cheating regulations.

Article 12 lists the penalties available to the arbiter and discusses the role of the arbiter.