I'm not sure as to what constitutes as a logical move. Sometimes I hear that chess is a discussion using statements, arguments, questions and answers.

Can someone explain to me what a logical move would be given this context? A nice, practical example would also be of great help to me.

  • 2
    It's a move serves a clear and useful purpose though it does not have to be a good move. I have seen this on the context of "White avoid the logical Qe5 since it allows the diabolical Rd5..."
    – Tony Ennis
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 12:49
  • I don't fully understand how a move's purpose is clear and useful. When is a move's purpose clear and useful? The example you give is exactly what leaves me with the question what a logical move is.
    – Rafiek
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 19:46
  • Ok, let's say my opponent is making no direct threats, and I can castle. It would be logical to castle. Or, 1. e4. It opens lines for the Q and B while grabbing a piece of the center.
    – Tony Ennis
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 0:16
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    Playing from principles and good opening "guidelines" (as opposed to memorized opening theory) can be considered logical. As a new player progresses from playing senseless moves to moves with a purpose that are in harmony with what he "ought" to be doing, they would deserve the "logical" label. Though there's evidently always something more advanced/nuanced that "logical" moves sometimes overlook and many an author loves pointing this out in their texts.
    – shivsky
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 2:41
  • Shivsky, i'm leaning towards your comment as an answer. A move that follows principles/guidelines/"rule of thumb" given the current position, that sounds like a pretty precise description of a "logical move". I would accept your comment as an answer, but that is not possible.
    – Rafiek
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 7:40

3 Answers 3


A move which is obviously not bad to play. It's a fuzzy word to describe and evaluate a move, so it's hard to explain (it's strongly opinion based). Maybe we can put a logical move in the middle of this list:

!!  an excellent move
!   a particularly good—and usually surprising—move
!?  an interesting move that may not be best
>>> Logical move is here and contains above <<<
?!  a dubious move – one which may turn out to be bad
?   a bad move
??  a blunder

Although, ideally speaking, the logical move is the best move, but It may not the case in your question.

Consider this position between Anand.V vs. Carlsen.M - the World Championship match. For an average rated player there're many logical moves such as 1.R4c3, 1.Rd1 and even 1.Kg2. By playing those moves his coach will not criticize him and he will say OK you made a logical move. But..

r3b3/1kp5/1pn1P1p1/pN6/2R3Pr/1P6/5N2/2R3K1 w - - 1 35

In the world championship between two giants, the only logical move is 1.Ne4! which is played also. (Even my chess engine find it hard)


A hint from Karpov, exact calculation in a game is much preferred rather than general guidelines. Guidelines do not find the best or logical move, they will be used to find logical candidate moves and then a exact move calculation will find the best move from the list. See the example again, a general guideline says try to protect your pieces but a comprehensive calculation says another thing. Ne4!. Which one is logical for GMs ?!

  • I like the way you are using this list to define a logical move. However, i'm not convinced that a logical move can be fully explained this way.
    – Rafiek
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 7:34
  • @Rafiek: So, at least this answer shows these describing words have different meanings in different people -- I've added an example to show my opinion.
    – masoud
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 11:10
  • @M M. your point is the same as shivsky is saying: "As a new player progresses from playing senseless moves to moves with a purpose that are in harmony with what he "ought" to be doing, they would deserve the "logical" label." Thank you for the example, it's a nice one! But it reiterates on the same point that shivsky also makes.
    – Rafiek
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 13:53
  • However, introducing the statement from Karpov is a very nice one! Logical moves are at first logical candidate moves, then comes the calculation to find the best move!
    – Rafiek
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 14:01

I actually disagree with the accepted answer.

To say that a move is logical says nothing at all about whether it is good or bad. If a move is logical, it only means that it makes a lot of sense from a chess perspective. A logical move is the "obvious" move to make in the position.

To elaborate - the move might be logical because it fulfills a strategic purpose or is the pawn break that makes the most sense. Determining whether or not a move is logical involves no calculation.

As an incredibly contrived example:
In this position, the logical move is 1. f4 because it's the only pawn break for white that makes sense. However, this move happens to lose the queen because the pawn is pinned.

[FEN "r4rk1/2n2ppp/3p4/q1pPp2b/1pP1P3/pP1N1PP1/P5BP/3QRRK1 w - - 0 0"]

That's a vastly oversimplified example, but hopefully it illustrates the general idea: the logical move requires no calculation and depends only on general principles.

  • Indeed the answer isn't sufficient! I accepted it because it was further elaborated on in the comments of the question and the comments of the answer. These comments describe your answer. Maybe M.M. should edit his answer by providing the comments in it??
    – Rafiek
    Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 21:37
  • There is no such thing as logical move in chess without calculation. "Chess is really 99 percent calculation. (Soltis)"
    – masoud
    Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 11:35
  • 1
    "the logical move requires no calculation and depends only on general principles." !! Wow, zero calculation! so, Nxe5 is more logical because basic principles say you should go for the material advantages and without any calculation it's a logical move!!
    – masoud
    Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 11:38
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    My point was not that a logical move is a foolish move, or that it is independent of all calculation, simply that a logical move might happen to have a tactical refutation. A logical move usually does have some tactical justification, but it is always based on sound chessic prinicipless. It's just incorrect to say that a logical move equates to an "okay" move.
    – Andrew
    Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 15:28
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    @MM., just to reinforce the point Andrew is trying to make, he was explicit in his answer that he is describing a use of "logical" that doesn't imply a move is objectively good. He is explaining (correctly) that the adjective "logical" is often used as a synonym for "natural" or "reasonable" or "sensible." Just as, say, a scientific theory can be both reasonable and yet ultimately proven false, a chess move can be both "logical" in the sense Andrew describes, yet ultimately tactically unjustified, just like f4 in the example. It's bad and shouldn't be played, but there's a logic to it.
    – ETD
    Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 4:26

I believe I have a precise definition: a logical move is the one that comply with the principles of classic chess strategy.

In the context of "chess being a discussion", the move would be a reply to another one, both respecting the main principles. The "logic" is the whole set of principles. The arguments, statements, questions an answers derive from the analysis of whether the move respected some principles or not, and whether it would be disrespecting a principle to create advantages in the future.

Suppose my opponent makes a move that respects the principle of "control the center", and I respond with a move that sacrifices a piece "to create a weakness" (if this weakness was indeed created or not, we don't know yet). My opponent's move would be considered "logical", and my move could be considered a blunder or a "surprising" move, depending on how the game would progress from that. In this example, my move was not "logical" from the perspective of the principles of classic chess.

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