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:

Win, Draw, and Loss Rules

Obscure chess rules about wins and losses:

Tournament Rules

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”: