• Lichess.org starts the clock of each player after their first move.
  • Chess.com starts the clock when the players agree to a match, before their first move.

I think Lichess is correct, that's what we do where I play. What's the rule?

  • 2
    I don't think either is particularly close to the FIDE rules. But online matches usually operate under different constraints. When players are matched against one another, one or both may have been waiting a while and stopped paying attention, so they may not know when a game is actually started. Lichess now simply gives each player some initial time to make a first move and from then on uses a standard clock. It aborts if either doesn't start the game in twenty or thirty seconds. I don't know chess.com. (Is that the one that grew out of ICS? I still use FICS sometimes.) Nov 9, 2018 at 0:16
  • "Lichess.org starts the clock of each player after their first move.": you mean that if I'm black, I can take as long as I want to decide which line I want to play after seeing white's first move? That seems strange. Do you mean that white's first move causes black's clock t start?
    – terdon
    Nov 9, 2018 at 12:34
  • @terdon no you cannot take as long as you want, you have 15s or so otherwise the game is abandoned. What I meant is your initial time won't start decreasing unless you make the first move. Each player's time decreases after his first move
    – Lynob
    Nov 9, 2018 at 12:38
  • Ah, right. But those 15s don't count towards black's time? That still seems a bit unfair, especially for bullet games. But thanks for the clarification.
    – terdon
    Nov 9, 2018 at 12:39
  • 1
    @Lynob: Ah, yes. I was a fan of ICS before they took it commercial and of FICS for years; but I mostly use LiChess these days. Nov 9, 2018 at 14:11

1 Answer 1


According to the FIDE rules,

6.6 At the time determined for the start of the game White’s clock is started.

In over the board chess, it's usually Black who does this (you can't have an arbiter start all clocks simultaneously) after the players shake hands and wish each other good luck. If White isn't present, Black may start the clock anyway at the designated time; if Black isn't present, White should start his/her own clock, make a move and press their side of the clock to start Black's. (Of course, in some events, failing to show up at the designated start time constitutes an immediate loss anyway.)

So actually chess.com's method is closer to the official rules, though those games are of course not regulated by the FIDE rules.

  • The $50,000 question would be when/how the time for the start of the game is determined. If/when both players agree to all conditions surrounding a game, and agree that it should start immediately, then it would make sense to start the clock without further ado, but it's necessary to discuss anything first, such discussion should take place before the clocks start. I think LiChess takes the philosophy that black's first move is what indicates agreement to play the game, while Chess.com seeks such agreement separately.
    – supercat
    Nov 9, 2018 at 1:06

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