Black legally moves a pawn to the 8th rank, intended to promote it to a queen without specifying what piece this pawn should be promoted to. White immediately captured the pawn with his piece (as it is the only "reasonable" move in this position) without waiting for black to finish his promotion.

Did white make an illegal move here? Is white obligated to wait for black to complete the promotion before making the capture, even if his only reasonable move is to capture the promoted piece?

Edit This happened in a game without time control; so no chess clock was used.

1 Answer 1


I'm going to assume for the sake of argument that White has pressed the clock after doing this. (According to article 7.5.1, "An illegal move is completed once the player has pressed his clock" so it would seem that this is a requirement for an illegal move.)

According to the FIDE Laws of Chess article 4.7:

The move is considered to have been made in the case of...
4.7.3 promotion, when the player's hand has released the new piece on the square of promotion and the pawn has been removed from the board.

So the previous move has not been "made" yet. And according to article 1.2:

The player with the light-coloured pieces (White) makes the first move, then the players move alternately...

Black has not yet "made" their move, so White is not moving alternately, which is in violation of the rules.

But not every rule violation is an illegal move. "Illegal move" has a definition:

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

Strictly speaking, the requirement to move alternately is not mentioned in 3.1 - 3.9. It's in 1.2.

But, 7.5.3 states:

If the player presses the clock without making a move, it shall be considered and penalized as if an illegal move.

Now the question becomes: Has White made a move? I would say that no, you cannot make a move if you do not "have the move". I would therefore say that White has pressed the clock without making a move.

So, in conclusion, White shall be considered and penalized as if they had made an illegal move.

  • Thank you for your detailed answer! Sorry that I forgot to mention that this happened in a game without time control; so no chess clock was used.
    – Zuriel
    May 3, 2022 at 1:21
  • 2
    If there is no time control, presumably this wasn't a competition? In which case, why does it matter whether a move was "illegal" or not? Just curious about the context here. May 3, 2022 at 1:22
  • 1
    @Zuriel Hmm. If you're taking notation then you need to know what the piece was promoted to in order to properly record the move. But if it's simply a casual game then the whole thing shouldn't matter and you should probably just play on.
    – D M
    May 3, 2022 at 1:59
  • If there were no clocks - you can assume that move was legal as white could have taken any piece black would have promoted to. If that would be a competition it would get more tricky as white should not make move at all. In blitz and Rapid black would have immediately lost then. Opposing - if white made that move now black can stop clock and white have lost due to illegal move.
    – Drako
    May 5, 2022 at 13:33
  • I've responded so fast in this scenario that I had responded before white could press the clock. (And actually had my hand on the other clock button to press it before White did.)
    – Joshua
    Jan 5, 2023 at 17:33

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