If a player intentionally damages a chess set (e.g. breaks a piece in two, cracks the board, etc.), is there a specific penalty under FIDE rules? I'm not talking about moving pieces around surreptitiously or attempting to obscure the current game state, but something like a player getting angry and, while lawfully moving their knight, they bite it with their teeth, drool on it, or crack it with their hands before putting it back down.

It seems like it might fall under Rule 11.1, which provides

11.1 The players shall take no action that will bring the game of chess into disrepute.

According to 11.6, such a violation "shall lead to penalties in accordance with Article 12.9."

Would such an act fall under this general rule of sportsmanship, or is there a specific penalty (or specifically no penalty at all) for this?

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    The penalty for drooling or chewing on pieces is - you forfeit the opportunity to play any more games with normal adults. Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 19:01
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    this reminds me of the more extreme maxim that you cannot win a game of chess by shooting the grandmaster you are playing.
    – Michael
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 0:16
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    I once read about a player who came to the table after a "messy meal" and hands dripping with sauce. He then proceeded to j'adoube all his opponent's pieces and getting them coated with sauce as well. The opponent was disturbed and promptly lost. The author concluded that this kind of behavior is clearly unethical and the opponent should've called the arbiter. If there is a specific penalty however, I don't know what it is.
    – Allure
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 0:19

1 Answer 1


First of all I would consider the Preface:

The Laws of Chess cannot cover all possible situations that may arise during a game, nor can they regulate all administrative questions. Where cases are not precisely regulated by an Article of the Laws, it should be possible to reach a correct decision by studying analogous situations which are regulated in the Laws.

I think it should be obvious that the sort of behavior you describe is wrong even if there is no rule that explicitly says "biting, drooling on, or cracking pieces is not allowed". :-)

But you can also consider

11.5. It is forbidden to distract or annoy the opponent in any manner whatsoever [...]

I don't think any arbiter would question your claim of being annoyed if your opponent is chewing on the pieces!

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    There's no rule that says a dog can't play chess... (Realistically, though, wouldn't this go beyond breaking the rules of chess to simply breaking the laws of whatever jurisdiction you are in against willful property damage?) Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 16:32
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    @DarrelHoffman Believe it or not, you can teach a dog to play chess (or at least follow an opening pattern). Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 22:09
  • I hope that if you can train your dog to play chess, you can also train your dog not to eat the pieces! OK, they would probably drool them anyway... :-)
    – itub
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 2:50
  • @itub I trained my dog to eat the pieces if it didn't win after 3 moves.... it seemed a reasonable rage quit.
    – UKMonkey
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 14:49
  • @Abigail I suppose, though presumably in any official tournament setting (which is the only place where the rules really matter), it's most likely that you don't own the chess set, so at the very least, such behavior would most likely result in you being ejected from the competition and never invited back, so whether or not it breaks the rules of chess is more or less irrelevant. Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 19:03

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