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?


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.

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  • He didn't say anything about shoving aside a piece with the capturing piece. – Apollys supports Monica Jan 3 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. – Loren Pechtel Jan 6 at 3:35
  • "is hard" is completely subjective and not a reasonable justification for making an unbased assumption. – Apollys supports Monica Jan 6 at 19:44
  • And the unbased assumption that it's not reasonable isn't subjective? :{>} – Arlen Jan 6 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.

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    I disagree. It's all part of the same move. According to the rule, you cannot involve both hands in the process. – Daniel Alfredo Sottile Jan 4 at 1:21
  • Seems like a pretty pointless rule. Is there a good reason for it? – Vilx- Jan 5 at 0:06
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    @Vilx- One justification comes from another rule: you must press the clock with the same hand you used to move. That ensures that you have totally finished moving the pieces around before you press the clock, so your opponent can move without your hands hanging over the board. – JiK Jan 5 at 0:30
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    @BrianTowers Please consider editing your answer to avoid misunderstandings. I found another relevant article: "7.5.4 If a player uses two hands to make a single move (for example in case of castling, capturing or promotion) and pressed the clock, it shall be considered and penalized as if an illegal move.". Thank you. – Daniel Alfredo Sottile Jan 6 at 15:48

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

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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.

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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.

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