In a FIDE rated blitz (3+2) tournament (following the official FIDE rules), the following position occurred:

[FEN "8/1k5P/q7/8/8/8/6K1/6Q1 w - - 0 1"]

White played 1.h8Q. But since both queens were on the board, the White player had no choice but to take a White rook, flip it and then place it on the h8 square. He then pressed the clock to complete the move.

The Black player immediately stopped the clock, complained to the arbiter because the flipped rook wasn't a legal chess piece. Thus, the Black player argued his opponent had made an illegal move in the blitz game.

The arbiter agreed and awarded the game as a win for Black due to the illegal move.

Q1: What does the FIDE rule say? Was the arbiter's decision correct?

Q2: If it was indeed an illegal move under the FIDE blitz rule. What should the White player have done? How would the player promote to queen (not rook!) when the White queen was already on the board? All other chess boards (and the queens) were occupied.

  • 5
    Afaik, a flipped rook still counts as a rook, so the move is treated as 1. h8R and the game continues normally.
    – Annatar
    Sep 6, 2017 at 6:44
  • 3
    Stop the clock, and wait for the organizers to bring one (bad planning on their part if they don't have a couple of spare ones).
    – Annatar
    Sep 6, 2017 at 6:48
  • Worst case, you have to wait for another game to end.
    – Annatar
    Sep 6, 2017 at 6:49
  • I guess you could use the flipped rook as a queen if the arbiter decides to as a last resort. But you have to have his permission first.
    – Annatar
    Sep 6, 2017 at 6:53
  • 3
    Bad arbiter. Very bad. It's a blitz game. Just declare it a queen and keep going.
    – Joshua
    Nov 18, 2017 at 16:43

1 Answer 1


The rules do not mention a flipped rook, nor is there any rule that says a move can be illegal due to how the piece is placed on the square. It's a legal move.

That said, it's just a rook. The opponent could have said "j'adoube" and placed it correctly, or waited for the rook's first diagonal move and then claim illegal move.

The player absolutely did have a choice: if a piece you want to promote to isn't readily available, that's a perfectly good reason to stop the clock and ask the arbiter to give you one. Rule 6.12.b:

6.12.b A player may stop the chessclock only in order to seek the arbiter’s assistance, for example when promotion has taken place and the piece required is not available.

That all other queens are in use is not the player's problem, but the arbiter's. Personally when I'm arbitering I always have one of each color in my pockets, and my games aren't even FIDE rated. An arbiter without spare material (also a spare clock or two) in a FIDE tournament is extremely incompetent.

  • 1
    Should a player in a blitz game be expected to make any effort to locate another queen before stopping the clocks? If the arbiter were busy and getting a queen would take a player 15 seconds, would it be proper for a player to move the pawn, stop the clock, get the queen, place it on the board, and then start the opponent's clock, or would the player be required to wait for the arbiter before proceeding?
    – supercat
    Feb 16, 2018 at 23:19

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