I was watching this video on Youtube of an Armageddon game between Vladimir Kramnik and Garry Kasparov which happened in 1995. It can be seen that Kasparov is using both of his hands for some moves. (For example, around the times 9:39, and 9:48)

My understanding is this is illegal. Why is it allowed here?

Was this legal in the past? Or is it legal in any format of chess like Armageddon here?

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3 Answers 3


Was playing with both hands ever allowed in chess?

Yes, before 1997. Hence in 1995 Kasparov was not breaking the rules.

The key article in the the FIDE Laws of Chess is:

Article 4: The act of moving the pieces

4.1 Each move must be made with one hand only.

This first appeared in the 1997 edition of the FIDE Laws of Chess.

The previous edition, in 1993, did not have this rule.

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    +1. Of course, it was easy to figure that it was not a rule at one point, but the part that surprises me is that it was so recent, relatively speaking. Dec 4, 2019 at 17:48
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    depending on the "level" of chess game the rule is still not applied - for example during regional chess tournaments for children, they often use both hands - like for rochade / castling or taking a figure - because they have trouble with small hands exchanging own figure with the slain opponent's figure - and usually allewed by referee
    – eagle275
    Dec 5, 2019 at 9:32

Yes. In the past that was not part of the rules. Forcing use of one hand gives an advantage to the person with the clock on the side of their handedness.

Otherwise the player has to reach across the board to toggle the clock after having moved. This takes longer and blocks their view which is a big handicap in short time games as well as time scrambles in slow tournament games.

One should be able to move with one hand and then hit the clock with the other. The problem was that some people might hit the clock during or even just before the move with the other hand. There is no perfect fix for the problem except computers that do all the time keeping automatically after sensing the completed move on the board or maybe even using AI and video to verify the move was done and legal.

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    Computer vision seems like massive overkill, just add a remote switch on the opposite side of the board so both players can use their dominant hand. Dec 5, 2019 at 3:49
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    @DanNeely: A key mechanical feature of even electronic clocks is that if two players attempt to punch the clock simultaneously, the buttons will only go down halfway. It would probably be possible to design a chess clock with a "bicycle cable" mechanism to connect a remote plunger, but it wouldn't be as simple as an electrical contact.
    – supercat
    Dec 5, 2019 at 21:52
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    The advantage to the person with the clock on the side of their handedness is an urban legend, brought up by amateur players after a loss. I never heard a professional player complain about the side of the clock (of course with the exception of those who complain constantly about everything). Dec 6, 2019 at 22:22
  • And once again somebody is going over all my old posts downvoting them with no reason given. Jan 22, 2020 at 20:12

I recently ran a "blitz" chess tournament, where each player had to make all their moves in five minutes, and interpreted the rule to be you must push the clock with the same hand you moved with, but made no effort to say you always had to use the same hand for every move. This just stopped the players from having a hand hovering over the clock while they moved with another to save the time on their clock. Taking a turn with either hand was valid as long as only one hand was involved in the turn (both moving a piece and pressing the clock).

Which matches the top answer here, "4.1 Each move must be made with one hand only."

  • which gave a big edge to the person with the clock on the side of their handedness. Jan 22, 2020 at 20:13
  • @edwinaoliver ...which is the reason why chess clocks use to be on right side of the black player.
    – Gypaets
    Feb 11, 2020 at 22:40

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