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New FIDE Illegal Move Laws (July 1, 2017)

From July 1, 2017, the FIDE Laws of Chess on “illegal moves” now look like this:

7.5.1 An illegal move is completed once the player has pressed his clock. If during a game it is found that an illegal move has been completed, the position immediately before the irregularity shall be reinstated. If the position immediately before the irregularity cannot be determined, the game shall continue from the last identifiable position prior to the irregularity. Articles 4.3 and 4.7 apply to the move replacing the illegal move. The game shall then continue from this reinstated position.

7.5.2 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.

7.5.3 After the action taken under Article 7.5.1 or 7.5.2, 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.

7.7.1 If a player uses two hands to make a single move (in case of castling, capturing or promotion), it shall be considered as an illegal move.

7.7.2 For the first violation of the rule 7.7.1, the arbiter shall give two minutes extra time to his opponent; for the second violation of the rule 7.7.1 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.

7.8.1. If the player presses the clock without making a move, it shall be considered as an illegal move.

7.8.2 For the first violation of the rule 7.8.1, the arbiter shall give two minutes extra time to his opponent; for the second violation of the rule 7.8.1 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.

7.7 and 7.8 are new illegal moves giving us four ways in total that an illegal move can be made. As you can see, the penalty for the first illegal move is +2 minutes to the opponent and for the second illegal move it is loss of game. However, in unsupervised rapid and blitz games, it only takes one illegal move to lose the game!

At first, after a literal reading of the new rules “for the second violation of the rule 7.7.1…”, I thought that 7.7.2 and 7.8.2 related to only the second occurrence of 7.7.1 and 7.8.1 specifically. However, the following interpretations produced by the FIDE Arbiters’ Commission, in cooperation with the FIDE Rules Commission regarding the new illegal move Laws were published clarifying that any two illegal move violations will lead to loss of game.

1. By the new laws of Chess four (4) illegal moves are now in effect, according to the articles: 7.5.1, 7.5.2, 7.7.1 and 7.8.1.

2. In Standard chess the player is forfeited in case he completes two (2) of ANY of the above illegal moves.

3. However when there are two (2) illegal moves in one move (i.e. illegal castling made by two hands, illegal promotion made by two hands and illegal capturing made by two hands), they count as one (1) illegal move and the player shall not be forfeited at once (in Standard chess).

4. The capturing of the King is illegal move and is penalized accordingly.

8. In case that a player presses the clock without making a move, as mentioned in the article 6.2.4, it is considered as an illegal move and it is penalized according to the article 7.5.3. and not according to the article 12.9

9. If a player makes a move with one hand and presses the clock with the other, it is not considered as an illegal move and it is penalized according to the article 12.9.

Bring forward the St. Louis Rapid & Blitz 2017 event that I was Chief Arbiter of. This was the first time I had overseen an event using the new rules and that brought with it a few questions, which I hope to share with people here so they can utilize how things were going to be ruled upon if they came up. (Note I am going to assume the player is using his right hand for all moves and the left hand is the one not to be involved.)

1) Is it considered using two hands to move with the right hand and hit the clock with the left? As pointed out in #9 of the interpretations this is not considered an illegal move and a player is penalized according to article 12.9.

2) When promoting a pawn, is it illegal to get the promotion piece from the side of the board with the left hand, pass the piece to the right hand and then use the right hand to place the piece on the queening square? So long as the same hand is used to move the pawn and place the promotion piece onto the board then no, this is not an illegal move. The promotion piece is not in play until it is placed on the square of promotion.

3) Is it illegal to make a capture with the right hand and pass the captured piece to the left hand to be placed with the other captured pieces? So long as only one hand is used to move your own piece and capture the opponent’s piece then no, this is not an illegal move. Once the captured piece has been removed from the board using one hand, that piece is no longer in play and can be moved to the captured piece pile using any hand.

4) A player castles using two hands, he uses his right hand to move his king and his left hand to move the rook. However, before hitting his clock, he puts the pieces back on their original squares and then proceeds to castle with one hand. Is this an illegal move? So long as the player puts the pieces back on their original squares and follows the Laws correctly, using only one hand this time, then no, this is not an illegal move. Remember that a player must hit the clock to complete the move before it becomes illegal. Also, even though two hands was used in the entire process of castling, uncastling and then castling again, the intent of the Law is to stop players gaining time by using two hands and so by resetting the position and performing the move correctly, no advantage has been gained. However, one very important point is if the arbiter is able to state with certainty that the rook was picked up first then touch move will be in effect on the rook!

5) An opponent makes a move with one hand but displaces pieces and still presses the clock. The player presses the clock back without making a move. Is this an illegal move? No, Law 7.4.1 say “If a player displaces one or more pieces, he shall re-establish the correct position in his own time.” In this case the player is utilizing this Law to make the player reinstate the displaced pieced in his own time. Of course this can sometimes cause confusion but either player also has the right to stop the clock to seek arbiter assistance. If the arbiter wishes to penalize the player who displaced the pieces he should use Law 12.9.

Hopefully this has covered a few of the nuances with the new illegal move Laws but I’m sure there are folks out there who can come up with much more interesting questions than I did. I’m not the final decision maker when it comes to interpretations of the new Laws but if you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comments section.

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