Where did this rule originate? Why does it exist?

I just recently learned about it, and in my casual coffeeshop chess games, it has never been mentioned or enforced.

2 Answers 2


If you're allowed to touch a piece, you can also pick it up and land it on another square, look how the new position would look like, and return it to its original square if you don't like the new position. Repeat this over and over again, and it becomes very annoying for your opponent.

This explains why the rule might exist, but not since when. I do not know the answer to that question.

  • 6
    ...and also it would be less clear whether a move was done. With the rule enforced you can be sure that once a player has let go of a piece on the destination square the move is done and it is the opponent's turn. Without the rule you would need some additional sign (at least in games without clock) to end a turn. Wikipedia says the rule exists for a very long time (15th century at least). Mar 1, 2017 at 20:47
  • As for the when: variations of it have existed since the beginning of chess, when chess was derived/adapted from the older games. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Touch-move_rule#History Mar 2, 2022 at 14:05
  • Some players are very annoying even WITH that rule in place, arguing to no end whether they've really made that move or not. Some even go as far as challenging past moves in classic, when two separate records of them exist! Without the rule, it'd be an utter chaos...
    – Lodinn
    Mar 3, 2022 at 10:19
  • Also, with all the back and forth, against an unfocused opponent it would be possible to 'restore' a different position from the initial one, either intentionally or by mistake. Mar 4, 2022 at 8:03

If you're allowed to touch a piece, or touch a square with a piece, without having to commit to the move, you could pretend to move, look at your opponent's reaction, and then retract the move if you see a reaction indicating you've just made a blunder.

Chess is not Poker, and the game should be decided on skills over the chessboard, not on psychological tricks or how good of a poker face you can make.

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