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Can I move a piece somewhere else if I left it but didn't press the clock?

Suppose I touch my queen and then move my queen, keeping it on a square, and take my hand off. Then, before I press the clock, I realize that it's a wrong move. Thus, I move the queen to a different square and then press the clock. Is this allowed, or do I have to play the queen on the first square (if my opponent calls the arbiter)?

I am getting conflicting answers. An official answer would be appreciated.

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    No, you can't. That's the reason why this Polgar-Kasparov (Linares 1994) game was controversial.
    – emdio
    Jan 16 at 14:33
  • touch move vs clock move?
    – BCLC
    Jan 21 at 12:31

4 Answers 4

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When I first started playing competitive chess 50 years ago what you describe was standard practice in blitz but not allowed in standard time control chess. Nowadays it is not allowed at all except in the case that moving the piece was not legal, for instance because it left your king in check or placed your king in check.

According to the current FIDE Laws of Chess:

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.

Legal and illegal moves are defined so:

3.10.1 A move is legal when all the relevant requirements of Articles 3.1 – 3.9 have been fulfilled.
3.10.2 A move is illegal when it fails to meet the relevant requirements of Articles 3.1 – 3.9

There are two cases when the requirement for the move to be legal would allow you to take the move back, indeed require you to do so.

The first is if your king ended up being in check after your move:

3.9.2 No piece can be moved that will either expose the king of the same colour to check or leave that king in check.

The second is if you move a piece in a way it is not allowed to. You can take the move back if, in your example, you moved your queen to a square it is not allowed to move to, for instance you moved the queen like a knight:

3.4 The queen may move to any square along the file, the rank or a diagonal on which it stands.

Legal queen moves

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    I wonder why they only give illegal move after pressing the clock, moving the queen like a knight multiple times can be used to distract the opponent..., what if the queen starts moving like a knight and starts caputuring all the pieces ...., and then resets and then plays a legal move .....? Jan 16 at 14:47
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    Curious. I'm not a chess player, so the 4.7 rule seems odd to me. Why was it implemented? I mean, as long as you haven't turned off the clock (and thus finished your turn), who cares what you are doing on the board? As long as the end state is valid, what does ir matter if you changed your mind a couple of times?
    – Vilx-
    Jan 17 at 6:30
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    @Vilx: What you would be doing then is effectively analyzing one half-move. This isn't much, but I'd spot 90% of my blunders immediately. And analyzing a running game is a strict no-no. (Also, again 11.5, do not distract your opponent.) Jan 17 at 9:07
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    @Vilx-, it's really, really, distracting and annoying for the opponent. My experiences on this are mostly in go, but played with people who more than once took a stone out, moved it to the board, but didn't let before thinking about it for several seconds. (The same is moving a chess piece and not letting go.) Especially when the move they "made" was one I expected and had a reply ready, I automatically started to make my own move when seeing theirs... only to be frustrated that they didn't actually make the move after all. (In one case, they stopped that when I did the same...)
    – ilkkachu
    Jan 17 at 9:31
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    @Peter: The other problem is that you can look at your opponent's facial reactions when you touch your queen (or any other piece) to see whether they think you are about to blunder. But chess is supposed to be chess, not poker, so the touch move rule prevents you from taking advantage of such information.
    – Kevin
    Jan 17 at 20:13
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No, you may not move that piece to another square even if you have not yet pressed your clock.

From the FIDE Laws, art. 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.

(Art. 4.7 continues with further laws regarding captures, castling and promotion.)

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You didn't ask, but note "legal" in the answers: if you made an illegal move, and did not press the clock, you may and must change it, and usually (modulo §E11.5, "Do not distract your opponent in any way!") get scot-free. In German even the part on the board ("Zug ausgeführt") and on the clock ("Zug abgeschlossen") have different names in the FIDE rules to easily distinguish these actions (I didn't memorize the English names).

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    In English the difference is between a move being "made" (let go of the piece) and "completed" (pressed the clock). Jan 16 at 15:53
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It is not allowed to change your move: https://www.fide.com/FIDE/handbook/LawsOfChess.pdf

"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."

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