I've recently heard and then actually started to notice more and more that professional chess players tend to use a middle finger when pointing at pieces on the board like in this Anand vs Caruana game during the Sinquefield Cup 2017:

enter image description here (source)

I am wondering, why is it happening?

Note: this is a genuine question, I am not trying to offend or make fun of anything or anyone here.

  • Simple: they are more comfortable using the middle finger.
    – Wais Kamal
    Dec 30, 2018 at 13:14
  • 2
    How many of them actually do that? The question seems to imply that at least a few hundreds of them are doing that on a regular basis. Is this a fact? Dec 30, 2018 at 14:32
  • @A.N.Other I don't have the exact stats :) But I am certain Kasparov does that as well. So, we have at least 3 players from very different schools of chess having the same habit.
    – alecxe
    Dec 30, 2018 at 14:39
  • 1
    Well, I always noticed that during analysis they tend to take the pieces (especially Knights) with the middle fingers, too. However it seems to me no more than a matter of personal taste or an habit that has developed among strong GMs. No "special reason" for doing so, IMHO. Dec 30, 2018 at 14:43
  • 2
    Curiously enough i also had noticed that recently.
    – Isac
    Jan 3, 2019 at 11:14

4 Answers 4


When they're analyzing at a rapid pace, they tend to only need the thumb and index finger to pick up pieces and move them. Using the middle finger as well doesn't really help. So since that finger is freed up, they can use it to point (especially because pointing with the 4th finger or pinkie is awkward).

Or they subconsciously despise each other.


Garry Kasparov has already answered this question. Unfortunately, it is a video and there is no text version.

You can find it on his official site: http://www.kasparov.com/garry-kasparov-answers-chess-questions-from-twitter-jan-16th-2018/

In the video, essentially, Kasparov said that he hasn't noticed it.

  • :) I like the fact that he says he never paid attention to that
    – alecxe
    Jan 4, 2019 at 5:53
  • 3
    Welcome on Chess.SE ! Since links tend to get broken over time, it is recommanded practice to sum up the relevant information from an external video in a few sentences in the answer itself. Can you explain what Kasparov's answer is ?
    – Evargalo
    Jan 4, 2019 at 10:39
  • 2
    @Evargalo Sure, I will add what is on video tomorrow. Jan 4, 2019 at 11:10
  • Kasparov said he hasn't noticed it, and that perhaps we should ask a psychologist.
    – user17003
    May 12, 2019 at 6:59

I think it very simple: if you point to something which is under your hand, it is much more convenient to use your middle finger. It seems a bit awkward, but more "natural" to your hand.

  • 1
    Also due to the middle finger normally being longer, it hides the piece less.
    – Mike Jones
    Dec 21, 2019 at 2:26

I am no psychologist or a great chess player, but I do use common sense. When I move/remove chess pieces I use thumb and middle finger to do so as I few like the middle finger being the longest I believe it lessens the probability of accidentally knocking other pieces down... With that finger being used in the game my brain makes it a primary pointer automatically...

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