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If a player grabs a piece to move it, and before placing it in its new position, the player gets second thoughts about the best position for the piece, and so they decide to think a little bit more. While they are thinking and holding the piece, they get an urge to visit the bathroom. In that case, is it legal for the player to take the piece to the bathroom until they are back to resume the game? This assumes that the player will never let go of the piece throughout the entire process until it's placed in its new position.

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  • 4
    why not just put the piece aside or put the piece back in the original position? Giri did the latter against Anand but personally i do find it a little weird even if it is technically within the rules. i think i'd go with putting the piece on the side of the board to indicate to both players 'yeah i touched this piece but i have to go. BRB' w/c is your intention anyway right?
    – BCLC
    Sep 2, 2021 at 3:47
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    Just place the piece back to the square where it was. That's normal and happens frequently, a lot better than holding the piece in your hand. Also the recommendation to put the piece on the side of the board is in my opinion just wrong. I have never seen anyone to do that. I don't know whether it's against the rules or not, but definitely not common or recommended. Going to the toilet is a seperate issue which is covered well in the Brian's answer.
    – nyymi
    Sep 2, 2021 at 10:16
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    No, they might scuff it, or get pine tar more than 18 inches from the base of the bishop, and gain unfair advantage.
    – hobbs
    Sep 2, 2021 at 14:39
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    You're not allowed to use the bathroom during your turn without asking the arbiter first, and I doubt he'll give you permission if you're holding the piece in your hand
    – David
    Sep 2, 2021 at 22:10
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    @hobbs what is the pine tar reference?
    – user253751
    Sep 3, 2021 at 15:43

4 Answers 4

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There are a number of serious things wrong with what you describe:

While they are thinking and holding the piece

You may hold a captured piece while you think but you may not hold a piece that is part of the current position. Your opponent has a right to a full view of the current position on the board at all times except the second or two it takes you to move. Do this in a tournament and be prepared to be punished. At a minimum expect a warning and likely a time penalty.

In that case, is it legal for the player to take the piece to the bathroom until they are back to resume the game?

No! Do this and you risk forfeiting the game.

From the FIDE Laws of Chess:

11.2.1 The ‘playing venue’ is defined as the ‘playing area’, rest rooms, toilets, refreshment area, area set aside for smoking and other places as designated by the arbiter.

11.2.2 The playing area is defined as the place where the games of a competition are played.

11.2.3 Only with the permission of the arbiter can:

11.2.3.1 a player leave the playing venue,

11.2.3.2 the player having the move be allowed to leave the playing area.

In general the toilets are part of the playing venue but not part of the playing area. If you get up from the board while it is your turn you may move about the playing area (and, for instance, look at other boards) but you may not leave the playing area (go to the toilet, go for a smoke or vape, get a drink, food, etc.) without getting the arbiter's permission. If you do so you will likely forfeit the game for possible cheating.

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  • There is the rule that the touched figure must be moved. If I have second thoughts about an originally intended move after I touched that figure, is the correct behavior to leave that figure on the board (or put it back), remove the hand while thinking again, and only later touch it again and move it? Sep 2, 2021 at 14:59
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    Both the opposing player and the arbiter will know which piece you touched, so the point isn't to keep your hand on it, but that you move that piece you first touch.
    – Nelson
    Sep 2, 2021 at 15:26
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    @Peter-ReinstateMonica Yes, that is the correct procedure. And that's also what you see people do if they have to think for more than two seconds in such a situation.
    – JiK
    Sep 2, 2021 at 21:50
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From FIDE's arbiter manual: "11.5 It is forbidden to distract or annoy the opponent in any manner whatsoever."

I think picking up a piece and keeping it out of the board for a long time is quite disturbing. As far as I know there's no problem on picking up a piece and placing it back on its original square as long as it's the piece you finally move. Probably some sort of gesture or verbal comment would be advisable, but that would be it.

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    Not to mention that the other player would be distracted for the rest of the game wondering what happened with that piece in the restroom and whether their opponent washed their hands. :-)
    – itub
    Sep 2, 2021 at 13:39
  • "J'adoube!"....
    – Michael
    Sep 4, 2021 at 2:46
  • (1/2) Why would a gesture or verbal comment be advisable? This seems inconsistent with other tournament conventions, such as not telling your opponent what move you made (if you made it while the opponent was not at the board) and not indicating when you place your opponent in check. Also, someone commented on another answer that both your opponent and arbiter will know which piece you touched, so it is unnecessary to indicate this by keeping your hand on it. In that case, they should also know what you are doing when you return a piece to its original square. Sep 4, 2021 at 6:21
  • (2/2) Finally, such a gesture or comment could itself be considered a distraction (which I understand is actually the reason for the conventions I mentioned earlier). Sep 4, 2021 at 6:21
  • @itub: Good point. Before an important game I always make sure my opponent sees that I've licked all my pieces; that way he won't want to capture them. Sep 4, 2021 at 16:06
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A tangential point related to what I think is a misconception behind the question:

This assumes that the player will never let go of the piece throughout the entire process until it's placed in its new position.

It looks like the motivation for the question is the idea that once you grab a piece you can't let go of it until you make your move. What the FIDE rules actually say is (emphasis added):

4.7 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.[...]

One might think that releasing the piece back in its original square might constitute an illegal move. But note this other rule:

7.5.1 An illegal move is completed once the player has pressed his clock.[...]

So in principle you could release the piece in as many illegal places as you like as long as you don't press the clock before releasing the piece in a legal square. But since there's also the issue of annoying the opponent, which has been brought up in other answers, I would say that least annoying option if you want to let go of the piece before completing your move is to put it back in its original square.

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  • In short, returning a piece to its own square is never "part of a legal move" (because no piece may move in that way), so letting go of the piece means nothing. Touch move, though, still applies in the absence of indication of piece adjustment (i.e. « j'adoube » or "I adjust"). Am I reading it right?
    – user45266
    Sep 3, 2021 at 7:28
  • @user45266, that is my interpretation, yes (disclaimer: I'm not an arbiter!). Touch-move definitely still applies.
    – itub
    Sep 3, 2021 at 13:17
  • “It looks like the motivation for the question is the idea that once you grab a piece you can't let go of it until you make your move.” When you look at it that way, you could say that this is more than a “tangential point”; it is a complete answer to the question. However, I cannot upvote an answer that contains this: “One might think that releasing the piece back in its original square might constitute an illegal move.” Releasing a piece back in its original square is not an illegal move, because it is not a move at all, just like adjusting the pieces is not a move. Sep 3, 2021 at 15:02
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    A couple of other points: (1) The piece may turn out to have no legal moves. (2) While the player can theoretically leave the piece in many illegal places, they must ensure they pick it up again with the same hand. Sep 3, 2021 at 15:02
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    To me, the square where the piece currently sits is just like any of the 64 squares on the board, each of which may or may not be a legal destination for the piece being moved. Just different ways of looking at the same thing. So moving your pawn from e2 to h7 is just as illegal as "moving" it from e2 to e2 in my view.
    – itub
    Sep 3, 2021 at 16:11
0

converting my comment to answer:

why not just put the piece aside or put the piece back in the original position? Giri did the latter against Anand but personally i do find it a little weird even if it is technically within the rules. i think i'd go with putting the piece on the side of the board to indicate to both players 'yeah i touched this piece but i have to go. BRB' w/c is your intention anyway right?

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