There are two ways to move the pieces in interactive interfaces, to drag and drop or to click-click. Drag and drop is by far the more common choice. Why is that given the two advantages of click-click? 1) Click-click avoids making mouse slips in online blitz play. 2) Click-click is easier from the ergonomic point of view.

I have switched to click-click in online blitz very soon after starting to play regularly in order to avoid mouse slips and it works. I am a fast click-click player mostly using a touchpad and see no reason to think that my opponents play faster with their drag and drop technique. But they slip.

Perhaps the answer lies deeply in the psychology of making a move on a real chessboard when there is clearly the moment of taking hold, then an interval of keeping hold of the piece, and then the moment of releasing. Drag and drop instantiates the same psychological experience while click-click has no relation to the original hand movement. Any ideas?

  • 1
    I'm not sure if it's indeed more popular, but it's the default and most people won't change the default
    – jf328
    May 27, 2016 at 8:15

3 Answers 3


Is there any research/poll that supports your claim for drag&drop being more common choice?

Personally, I use click-click, and most people I know also prefer this option. It's just as fast as drag&drop and it's much less prone to slip, as you already stated. And that's especially true when using smartphone instead of the mouse. :)

Perhaps, apart from being similar to real-life behavior, drag&drop gets used more when there's GUI that presents it as preferable (although I would say it's a bad design). For example, when you click on a piece, it pops-out/enlarges immediately, so it's somehow more obvious to just drag it; I guess some people don't even bother trying if click-click works at all afterwards.

  • 1
    I know from personal communication that the owner of ChessTempo.com suspects that drag and drop is more popular by far, although not among serious blitz or bullet players. But he does not have any statistics to support that. May 30, 2016 at 15:09
  • Interesting, although it would be even more interesting to see some real data about that. In case you are able to, suggest making a survey on the preferred option to the owner of the site. But for serious players, as you said, it makes more sense to use clicking.
    – fbxmg
    May 30, 2016 at 15:16

I read this question the other day, and as a habitual drag-drop player (in spite of already knowing that click-click would at least be more precise) I couldn't really give a convincing answer why I do it.

I was playing some chess just now, however, and noticed one thing that does separate the two. Similar to what I mentioned in this answer, when using the drag-drop method you can 'see' what the board looks like after your move and then if you don't let go of the mouse and decide it's not a good move you can retract it. Of course, I am not suggesting this as a good way to play online chess, but I played a few games with click-click just now and in a few situations found it a little jarring to not have that extra second of thinking time while you're moving the piece.

  • 2
    This reply is fascinating. It should be incorporated into the discussion why there is no obligation to move the touched piece in online play (chess.stackexchange.com/questions/14488/…). After all, dragging without dropping violates a fundamental rule of playing chess, namely that you cannot modify the position while thinking. May 28, 2016 at 13:48
  • @user3456 What you state is not a fundamental rule, it's not a rule at all. You can even do exactly the same thing in a real OTB chess - you pick up a piece, notice that what you were trying to do would be a mistake, so you put back your piece right where it was. It's perfectly allowed by the rules. The only difference is that afterwards you are required to make a move with that piece in an OTB chess, while you don't have to do that in online chess, but reasons for that are explained in the discussion you linked to.
    – fbxmg
    May 30, 2016 at 12:38

One thing you mention is that you use a touchpad, which behaves significantly different from a mouse. And keep in mind that most people in online chess still use a mouse.

I recently played a lot on Lichess, where you can use both methods in the same game (no need to configure in advance) and find that personally in most situations I prefer to drag and drop, only if I have enough time I will consider to make a 'half premove' where I already click the piece that I am likely to move and be ready to click on the spot where it needs to go.

In that particular time the amount of effort that needs to be made is less, but normally the amount of actions is more (though not neccesarily more intense as the actions are different).

Here are the steps for click-click (when using a mouse)

  1. Mouse down
  2. Mouse up
  3. Move mouse
  4. Mouse down
  5. (Mouse up)

Now compare this with the steps for drag and drop

  1. Mouse down
  2. Move mouse
  3. Mouse up

So, though I cannot be sure this is the reason, but this may be why people typically use drag and drop over click-click.

Also, I personally don't mis-drag very often, and don't think I would personally expect a reduction if I switched to click-click on the mouse. But yeah, on a touchscreen that could be a different story.

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