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?


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.


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.

  • 1
    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). Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 22:22

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."


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