In an official blitz game, what happens if a player hits a chess clock without making a move? I believe that making an illegal move in a blitz game is an automatic loss. But does this count as an illegal move because my opponent didn't really make a move?

5 Answers 5


You can only make an illegal move by making a move. Pressing the clock without moving is not making a move. So the arbiter can't use that rule to make a decision.

There is FIDE rule 6.13 (chapter 6 is about the clock): "If an irregularity occurs and/or the pieces have to be restored to a previous position, the arbiter shall use his best judgement to determine the times to be shown on the clocks. He shall also, if necessary, adjust the clock’s move counter."

So the arbiter can use his best judgement to reinstate the correct clock times. This is of course unfortunate (it's hard to stay concentrated for the players, especially the innocent player), but the arbiter can't just invent rules.

If this happens regularly (the player is doing this on purpose), there is always article 12.8: "Persistent refusal by a player to comply with the Laws of Chess shall be penalised by loss of the game. The arbiter shall decide the score of the opponent."

  • 1
    "You can only make an illegal move by making a move" I would have to disagree... Passing is a move, as if to say "in this turn I choose to do nothing, thereby giving the turn to my opponent". In chess, passing is not allowed, so technically I would say that is an illegal move. Of course that puts us in the realm of hair-splitting about the interpretation of words and rules. In short, it is correct that the ultimate resolution depends on the arbiter, but the illegal move rule cannot be discarded.
    – yrodro
    Nov 8, 2013 at 5:15
  • 4
    The FIDE rules go to great pains to define when a move is "made" and when it is "completed". The entire article 4.6 defines when a move is "made", and once it's made, article 3 is used to decide whether it's legal or not. The rules that say a game is lost when an illegal move was made refer to this precise meaning. Passing is not making a move, obviously because the concept doesn't exist in chess, but specifically because it's not listed in article 4.6. The arbiter can't just make up rules. Nov 8, 2013 at 10:02
  • Although neither article 3 nor article 4 make any mention of the clock, I agree with your assessment. Article 6 deals directly with the issue of the clocks, and states, "If an irregularity occurs and/or the pieces have to be restored to a previous position, the arbiter shall use his best judgement to determine the times to be shown on the clocks. He shall also, if necessary, adjust the clock’s move counter." (Article 6.13)
    – Lumberjack
    Nov 12, 2013 at 20:03
  • The circumstance described by OP would be described as an irregularity as a consequence of Article 6.7 which also supports your assertion, "During the game each player, having made his move on the chessboard, shall stop his own clock and start his opponent’s clock. "
    – Lumberjack
    Nov 12, 2013 at 20:05

The rules changed in 2017 to make this an illegal move. Article 7.5 of FIDE Laws of Chess talk about illegal moves, and now Article 7.5.3 mentions this exact case:

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


Per E.I.01B. Appendices - B.3/c

An illegal move is completed once the opponent’s clock has been started. The opponent is entitled to claim a win before he has made his own move. However, if the opponent cannot checkmate the player’s king by any possible series of legal moves, then the claimant is entitled to claim a draw before he has made his own move. Once the opponent has made his own move, an illegal move cannot be corrected unless mutually agreed without intervention of an arbiter.


There have been recent (1/1/2018) changes to FIDE's rules that relate to this question.

Previously, in blitz/rapid a player making an illegal move would instantly lose the game.

However, January 1, 2018 revisions to FIDE Laws of Chess acted "to equalize the rules for classical chess on the one hand, and rapid and blitz on the other, with regard to the penalty for making an illegal move."

Before, in both rapid or blitz an "illegal move" (which includes moving with two hands, or not making a move and pressing the clock) would instantly lose the game in case the arbiter intervened or the opponent stopped the clock. Now, in the first instance it will lead to a time penalty and only if a player does it again, he or she loses—just like in classical chess.

Source for quotes on 1/1/2018 change: Peter Doggers, "New FIDE Laws Of Chess For Blitz, Rapid Still Not Perfect," Chess.com, January 3, 2018.


You are correct in saying that in blitz, an illegal move loses the game. In this case, an illegal move is made because your opponent did not move. Hence, if you correctly stop the clock and make a claim to the tournament director, you win the game.

I feel that this would have to be intentional though. I'm not sure what would happen if your opponent accidentally brushed the clock or something. I suppose the decision would be left up to the arbiter.

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