Obscure Chess Rules
Chess is a hard enough game, even without all the obscure chess rules and issues. Here’s a list of some of the more obscure chess rules to consider.
Advanced Chess Move Rules
Some of the more obscure rules of advanced chess moves:
- En passant chess rule
- Castling move rules
- Castling rights: The King and Rook must never have previously moved in the game.
- Castling restrictions: You cannot castle out of check, castle into check, castle through check.
- The Rook can castle through a checked square provided that the King doesn’t. Only occurs in queenside castling on the "b’ file square.
- The Rook can be “checked”. The Rook can castle even if it’s under attack, provided that the King isn’t checked.
- Under-promotion: Not only can you Queen your pawn when it gets to the 8th rank, you can Rook it, Knight it, or Bishop it. But you cannot make a second King, or leave it as a pawn.
- Double check is possible. Triple check is not.
- If both Kings are in check at the same time, someone has played an illegal move. (In beginner chess, usually someone’s played like 10 illegal moves in a row…)
Win, Draw, and Loss Rules
Obscure chess rules about wins and losses:
- Stalemate is a draw
- Draw by agreement is allowed.
- In theory you can offer and agree to a draw at the very first move. Some tournaments disallow this type of unsporting behaviour.
- Resignation is allowed.
- Draw by triple repetition
- Draw by inadequate mating material.
- Perpetual check is a draw in practice, but there’s not actually an official perpetual check rule. To be precise, it’s not drawn unless triple repetition or the 50 move rule applies. Reasonable people tend to get a draw by agreement in such cases.
- Draw by “no progress” or “not attempting to win the game on the board”. Rules are complex and may vary.
- 50 move rule draw. No pawn moves, no captures, for 50 moves. Checks don’t count.
- 70 move rule draw (an old, withdrawn rule)
Obscure tournament chess move rules include:
- Chess points are usually awarded as 1 for a win, 0 for a loss, and half a point each for a draw. But some tournaments use a 3-1-0 system to discourage drawing play.
- Touch move rules usually apply. There are some tricky cases like touching two pieces or accidentally touching a piece with your elbow; ask your referee.
- Chess clocks are often used in tournaments.
- Fischer chess clock rules often apply, with time increments each move.
- Capturing the King is a win in some rules, or must be re-played in others.
- Illegal move rules are complex in tournaments. An illegal move may be a loss in some, or may need to be re-played in others. (Similarly to King capture rules.)
- Promoting your pawn to an upside-down rook may actually be an under-promotion to a Rook rather than a new Queen.
- Triple repetition draws are not drawn unless the same position occurs 3 times and: (a) the same player (White or Black) is due to move for each of the 3 positions, (b) the same castling rights exist, and (c) the same en passant rights exist.
- Some types of draws are “automatic” (the referee can stipulate a draw), whereas other draws must be “claimed” by a player before the referee can award the draw. See: Draw Claims.
- Double time forfeits are usually a draw.
- Time forfeit with inadequate material may still be a draw; rules vary.
- Tie-breaker, play-off, and Countback rules in tournaments are complex.
Tournament Behavior Rules
Some obscure tournament etiquette and play rules include:
- You’re supposed to tap the clock with the same hand that moved the piece.
- To castle properly, you’re supposed to touch the King first, move it 2 squares, then move the Rook next. With one hand, not both hands. Then tap the chess clock with the same hand!
- Mobile phone rules vary with each tournament.
- Writing the game on paper is required in some tournament games. Rules vary.
- Recording of “draw offers” on the scoresheet is actually required by the official rules.
- Recording of the game moves is not required if there are less than 5 minutes on the clock, and it’s not a Fischer clock that is adding 30 seconds or more per move.
- No cheating by talking to anyone about your game (or their game).
- No cheating using laptops, smartphones, e-readers, other devices, and those old things made of paper, oh, yeah, “books” is what they’re called.
- The hair-splittingly correct way to offer a draw is to: (a) play your move on the board, then (b) verbally offer the draw, then (c) tap your clock.
- Your opponent may accept a draw verbally, or decline a draw verbally, or decline the draw by playing a move on the board (without necessarily saying anything).
- You cannot offer a draw on your opponent’s time, nor can you repeatedly offer a draw in a way that is badgering your opponent.
- Half-point byes and zero-point byes occur; rules vary.
- Failure to officially record your game result at the tournament referee’s desk may be a forfeit penalty (zero points) even if you won.
Chess Variant Rules
Other rules apply to different “chess variants”: