In a reply to another question, I made an explicit presumption that under FIDE Laws, a player can move as soon as the opponent’s move has been made. But someone wondered if this was this really correct.

The Laws make a distinction between a move being ‘made’ and a move being ‘completed’ (when the clock has been hit). As far as I can tell, the former (under which the waiting player is said to ‘have the move’) is sufficient for allowing the next player to move. But there is no rule which says you can move when you have the move, maybe because it’s deemed too obvious.

As far as I can see the following scenarios are legitimate:

A: move
B: move
B: hit clock but nothing happens
A: hit clock
B: hit clock

A: move
B: move
A: move
A: hit clock
B: move
B: hit clock

And might as well list a related scenario:

A: move
B: wait for A to realise
A: hit clock

But I am not an arbiter. Can a player move before their opponent hits the clock?

  • 3
    In practice, some time controls - controls with delay, increment, or X moves in Y minutes - require the correct number of clock presses by each player. However I sense you are not entirely asking about "in practice", in which case I refer you to, which covers making multiple moves without completing them.
    – Remellion
    Nov 27 '19 at 5:42
  • 1
    I’m trying to be practical here. Even with the time controls you list, the burden is on the player to remember to hit the clock, and if they neglect to do so, it’s they who suffer the penalty. The opponent is not required to wait until this admin has been completed. Feel free to submit an answer if I am missing something
    – Laska
    Nov 27 '19 at 7:34
  • 4
    The answer is "Yes, all those are allowed and normal" but I'm in doubt about how to write that out as a good SE answer... Nov 27 '19 at 8:11
  • 1
    @Laska: In a time control without delay or increment, a player who has e.g. five seconds on the clock would be able to last much longer if allowed to start physically making each move before his clock started. In a control with increment, any benefit from such quick moving would be reduced, and in a control with delay it would be irrelevant.
    – supercat
    Nov 27 '19 at 17:05

There is no requirement to wait until the opponent has pressed the clock before making your move. However issues can arise with getting the increment to which the player is entitled for every move made if the clock is not pressed and this is spelled out in the FIDE Laws of Chess:

6.2.1 During the game each player, having made his move on the chessboard, shall stop his own clock and start his opponent’s clock (that is to say, he shall press his clock). This “completes” the move. A move is also completed if: the move ends the game (see Articles 5.1.1, 5.2.1, 5.2.2, 9.6.1 and 9.6.2), or the player has made his next move, when his previous move was not completed.

6.2.2 A player must be allowed to stop his clock after making his move, even after the opponent has made his next move. The time between making the move on the chessboard and pressing the clock is regarded as part of the time allotted to the player.

From it is clear that is fine for player B to make his move before player A has pressed the clock to complete his previous move.

From 6.2.2 it is clear that in that case player A is entitled to press the clock for that move even after player B has made a quick move.

The act of pressing the clock fulfils two functions:

  • It "completes" the move. This is important because an illegal move is not punishable and can be retracted without penalty if the move hasn't been completed.
  • It is the action which gives the player the increment to which he is entitled.
  • Sounds like one could speculative make illegal moves and see if they stick by not completing their move until after their opponent has moved.
    – Michael
    Nov 27 '19 at 20:23
  • 1
    @Michael The amount of time you'd lose by not pressing your clock would often be more than the amount you'd be penalized for a single illegal move.
    – D M
    Dec 21 '19 at 3:44
  • @Michael I think that doing this on purpose, or accidentally but repeatedly, is annoying and distracting, which violates article 11.5 of the Laws of Chess. Dec 6 '20 at 12:51

According to rule 1.2:

The player with the light-coloured pieces (White) makes the first move, then the players move alternately, with the player with the dark-coloured pieces (Black) making the next move.

Note the word "makes"/"making". The past tense of this word is "made".

Then if we skip ahead a little:

4.7 The move is considered to have been made in the case of:

4.7.1 a capture, when the captured piece has been removed from the chessboard and the player, having placed his own piece on its new square, has released this capturing piece from his hand,

There is no requirement that the clock be hit for a move to have been made. And once the move has been made, "the players move alternately." Nothing in the rules prohibits the next player from moving at that point.


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