Article 7.3 of the FIDE Laws reads:

If a game has started with colours reversed then, if less than 10 moves have been made by both players, it shall be discontinued and a new game played with the correct colours. After 10 moves or more, the game shall continue.

I'm not sure what 'colours reversed' means in this rule. It doesn't seem to mean that the colors of the board itself are reversed, because that's fully covered by Article 7.2.2

The two big possibilities I can think of:

  1. The board and pieces were set up correctly, but Black moves first instead of White. [Would this ever actually happen? Everyone suddenly forgetting that White goes first?]

  2. White moves first, but the King and Queen of both players start off in switched positions, so that White has an essentially 'Black' starting setup, and Black has an essentially 'White' starting setup.

If it's possibility #2, then what's the point of Article 7.2.1? It reads:

If during a game it is found that the initial position of the pieces was incorrect, the game shall be cancelled and a new game shall be played.

I imagine that the King and Queen being switched probably accounts for 95% or more of the cases where "the initial position of the pieces was incorrect." Why have 7.2.1 as a rule if it's nearly always overridden by 7.3?

Or maybe there's another interpretation of 7.3 that I've missed entirely. I don't know.

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure what 'colours reversed' means in this rule.

It is really very simple. Suppose you and I are playing in a Swiss tournament. The draw shows that you are to play white against me in the next round. By accident we sit at the board with the black pieces in front of you and the white pieces in front of me and we start our game.

We are playing the correct opponent but the wrong colours. We are playing with colours reversed.

Why does this matter? Because the rules for Swiss pairing decide what colours players can have. If our error is discovered within 10 moves then this can be fixed by abandoning the current game and starting a new one with the correct colours.

If this doesn't happen and we end up completing our reversed colours game then the arbiter needs to go back and manually change the draw to show the actual colours we played. That lets the pairing software know our true colour history and prevent either one of us playing three consecutive games with the same colour which the pairing rules don't allow.

  • We had a case before of misidentifying which were the black pieces. (It's not as outlandish as it sounds; overly fancy chess set assumed you knew its background.) I suppose that's another definition of colors reversed.
    – Joshua
    Jan 5, 2023 at 17:21

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