Following up on a question regarding piece adjustment after an accident, I was wondering if there is a rule which forces someone to neatly place their pieces on the board?

I am asking in the context of a psychological (nasty) war: if you place your pieces away from the center of the square (but still obviously within the square), the general mess can be unsettling to someone (it would certainly be for me) and give you unfair advantage.

2 Answers 2


OK, welcome to chess.stackexchange. First off with such FIDE questions need to bear in mind their "golden rule":

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. The Laws assume that arbiters have the necessary competence, sound judgement and absolute objectivity. Too detailed a rule might deprive the arbiter of his freedom of judgement and thus prevent him from finding a solution to a problem dictated by fairness, logic and special factors.

We also have:

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

7.4.3 The arbiter may penalise the player who displaced the pieces.

So the words "displaces" and "correct" are not defined, but they are kind of obvious for an arbiter to interpret, and the arbiter also has access to:

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

11.5 It is forbidden to distract or annoy the opponent in any manner whatsoever. This includes unreasonable claims, unreasonable offers of a draw or the introduction of a source of noise into the playing area.

Bearing all this in mind, I think the player who tries this trick on is heading for a quick penalty. Hope this helps.

  • 1
    I have seen some players that insist the horsie be placed sideways and others who want it facing forward, but most people just want it to be more or less centered on the square.
    – yobamamama
    Commented Dec 26, 2019 at 17:36
  • I like to have knights centred but looking my opponent directly in the face with steely resolute gaze :-)
    – Laska
    Commented Jan 3, 2020 at 10:19

No. That is subjective and personal. You may adjust anything during your move. You cannot make the other player adjust them to your liking.

It would be interesting to see an adjustment battle going on when each player took his clock time to RE-adjust all the pieces to their liking every move. Might not work too well at speed chess:)

I wonder if an arbiter could find another rule about doing something to annoy their opponent if it did happen. And which one would be punished. I hope both of them for being twits.

  • You may adjust anything during your move - does this include your opponent's pieces? This is a seriously disruptive move.
    – WoJ
    Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 11:18
  • It is on your time and is allowed so you are not having problems viewing the board with maladjusted pieces.
    – yobamamama
    Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 14:53

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