Adjusting the Pieces
So you want to adjust the pieces on the board. Perhaps one or other piece is not in the center of the squares. Maybe you want your Knights to be facing the right way? Or there’s some dust on the board near a piece.
But you can’t just touch the pieces! Under the “touch move rule”, if you touch one of your pieces, there are consequences: touch your own piece, and you are supposed to move it. Touch an enemy piece, and you are supposed to be bound to capture it.
I Adjust or J’Adoube
The exception to this is called “adjusting”. If you just want to move the pieces so they they look better, you have to precede your touching of the pieces with a verbal statement: “I adjust” or even just “adjust” or “adjusting”. And there is also the version “J’adoube”, which is the French equivalent of “I adjust”. You can use the French version even in English speaking chess tournaments.
You are only supposed to do this on your own move. And not on your opponent’s move, as this will disturb their thoughts. Many players do this before the game starts when first sitting down, and will often omit the “J’adoube” statement since the game hasn’t officially started.