I see players in international tournaments taking pieces in the following fashion: first they take off the board the piece they intend to take, and only then, with the same hand, they move their taking piece in the square occupied by the removed piece (except in en passant, of course).

I was taught to take pieces using a single hand movement instead: I move my taking piece to the square of the piece to be taken and remove that in the same time putting it off the board.

Since I think that the first method is more time consuming, I am assuming that it is the only legal method to take pieces, while mine must be illegal. Am I wrong? Or does it depend on the particular policy of each tournament?

6 Answers 6


Short answer: Their movement is cleaner than yours, but not more legal.

Longer: When you shove aside a piece with your capturing piece, it risks affecting the placement of the pieces around it. It also risks accidentally causing you to touch other pieces, bringing some other conflict into the game. So, all things considered, your way risks causing more issues than their way, but neither way is more legal than the other.

  • He didn't say anything about shoving aside a piece with the capturing piece. Commented Jan 3, 2020 at 23:03
  • @ApollyssupportsMonica If your piece is to end up reasonably in the square you have to displace the current occupant in some fashion. Either that means shoving it aside with the capturing piece, or it means picking it up while holding your piece. The latter motion is generally feasible when the pieces are of a similar size but it can be hard when capturing pawns with not-pawns as gripping the shorter piece while holding the taller one is hard. Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 3:35
  • "is hard" is completely subjective and not a reasonable justification for making an unbased assumption. Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 19:44
  • 1
    And the unbased assumption that it's not reasonable isn't subjective? :{>}
    – Arlen
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 21:46

According to the FIDE Laws of Chess:

4.1 Each move must be played with one hand only.

In other words, the "correct" hand movement is one which uses only one hand. The order in which the opponent's piece is removed and the player's own piece moved to the capturing square is irrelevant.

Note that once the captured piece has left the board it doesn't matter which hand is used to place it on the side. It is perfectly legal, for instance, to lift the piece from the board with the right hand, immediately transfer it to the left hand and carry it to the side of the board with the left hand whilst simultaneously moving the capturing piece to the capture square with the right hand.

Something similar applies with promotion. The promoted piece must be placed on the board with the same hand that removes the pawn from the board but it is perfectly legal to pick up a queen, say, with one hand whilst removing the pawn with the other and to transfer the queen from one hand to the other before placing it on the promotion square.


I believe either way is fine. I have seen both, but not in blitz.


4.6 When, as a legal move or part of a legal move, a piece has been released on a square, it cannot be moved to another square on this move. The move is then considered to have been made:

a. in the case of 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

  • I've seen that only in blitz. Specialists even manage castling this way. :-) (As of my lousy dexterity, I usually prefer the clean method even in blitz - 5 minutes are a postal game for me anyway, so the time gain is of no relevance :-) Commented Jan 16, 2021 at 18:30

Either method is completely fine, do whichever you're more comfortable with. There are a few "pros" and "cons" of each, but they're more or less non-factors:

Taking the piece you intend to capture off first may look more "precise", since the other way involves scraping the pieces together. There's also the small issue of touch move. What if at the very last minute you change your mind? If you've touched your piece first, you'll have to move that piece somewhere. Meanwhile, if you've touched your opponent's piece first, you'll have to capture it (with either the piece you intended or another piece, if one's available). In such a scenario, the method you use will probably give you a higher degree of freedom on average.


The first method that you describe is cleaner, but only after a bit of practice. Therefore, many players use it to convey an intimidating air of experience.


It seems obvious to me: if it is your move then you MUST touch your own piece first; pick it up with one hand and then pick up the target piece with the same hand and place your capturing piece on the vacated square - although this may require a tiny bit of finger control so be it. The comcept that if you pick up the target piece first, providing options for the piece to capture, is erroneous - nowhere in the rules are you entitled to this afterthougt privilege, you can't go willy nilly touching opponents pieces out of order, that is an unforgivable misbehavior worthy of disqualification. Can you imagine a scenario where a player simply keeps picking up the opponents pieces and then sits there for minutes on end, contemplating what to capture with? That dog don't hunt.

After a capture it is often seen that a player uses the captured piece to hit the clock - this is a legal and harmless expression of intimidation, as well as it saves time (especially in blitz) insofar as it is not legally neccesary to put the captured piece down on the table immediately after capture.

  • 1
    What you have written is completely false.
    – Brian Towers
    Commented Jan 16, 2021 at 16:20
  • Except maybe the part with using the figure to push the clock, but you definitely won't make a long lasting friendship with the clock owner that way :-) (In informal games in the chess club, it's still wide usage...as long as the material janitor isn't watching.) Commented Jan 16, 2021 at 18:27
  • In the recent film "Queen's Gambit" all major tournament play captures are properly depicted as described by Cooper, please note that the film had special consultation by Garry Kasparov. The notion that you could reach over and disturb your opponents position, taking his piece off and then sitting there for an hour, is absurd. Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 17:08
  • It seems that the "Queen's Gambit" is attracting more and more people towards Chess.
    – Overflow
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 1:18

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