If one of my pieces is knocked off the board unintentionally, do I need to place it back on the board?

Can I continue to play with one or more pieces not on the board (but still have it in effect - for example a rook that was on A1 but has been knocked off the board still "watches" the vertical and horizontal)?

Can I place it back on the board only when I intend to move it?

  • In my youth I learned that to adjust a piec one has to announce it by saysing 'J'adoube'. Is this still a rule (or was it ever)?
    – TaW
    Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 14:10

2 Answers 2


When FIDE tournament rules apply: If you displace one or more pieces – knocking off the board, intentionally or unintentionally, is a displacement – you have to re-establish the correct position on your own time (Art. 7.4.1). While it is not specifically mentioned, I would say that you have to do this at once; if you wait, that could be regarded as an attempt to "distract or annoy the opponent" (Art. 11.5).

In a regular game, if you proceed while the incorrect position is on the board, any move will be regarded as irregular, the correct position before the knocking off will be reinstated, the game will continue from that position, the arbiter will set the clock and give penalties. In rapid and blitz games, after the opponent made a move, the game will continue without the "vanished" piece.

USCF might have additional rules.

  • The question was probably about an event described in a different question (the one linked above). Where someone from the audience knocked off a piece of the board and the player placed it back, after which he was forced to play that piece because he 'touched' it.
    – user13926
    Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 9:57
  • @HansJanssen: Of note, in the linked question the piece that was knocked off the board was the player's King. I don't know if the rapid/blitz rules have some special exception for that case, but it seems kind of awkward to continue playing that way, to say the least, even if one or more moves had already been made after the accident. Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 15:24

According to the Laws of Chess:

7.4.1 If a player displaces one or more pieces, he shall re-establish the correct position in his own time.

Of course, in this situation, it is not the player who displaced one or more pieces. I believe that another rule would therefore be in effect:

7.6 If, during a game it is found that any piece has been displaced from its correct square, the position before the irregularity shall be reinstated. If the position immediately before the irregularity cannot be determined, the game shall continue from the last identifiable position prior to the irregularity. The game shall then continue from this reinstated position.

Note the use of passive voice. If 7.4.1 doesn't apply, then it doesn't matter how it got displaced and it doesn't matter how it gets put back, but the position shall be reinstated, and the game shall continue from the reinstated position. This implies that you can't move until it is reinstated (otherwise you wouldn't be continuing from that position.)

And, of course, you're allowed to stop the clock and call the arbiter if such a thing happens.

7.4.2 If necessary, either the player or his opponent shall stop the chessclock and ask for the arbiter’s assistance.

  • Sounds like you should not touch the piece yourself and wait for the arbiter to place it back to prevent your opponent from screaming "touch move".
    – user13926
    Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 9:59
  • @HansJanssen That's safest, although putting it back on yourself is an option if you know that your opponent won't call touch move and/or the arbiter wouldn't uphold it. IMO, if a player is clearly just following 7.4.1 or 7.6 and re-establishing an accidentally displaced piece, touch move should not be called. (But that's the other question.)
    – D M
    Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 12:37

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