What were the different versions of the touch-move rule over history?

There are various chess problems, particularly from 19th century, which depend upon it, and they seem to make different assumptions about the players' choices.

  • 1
    Can you cite one or two of these chess problems that you mention (including sources) that seem to show those different assumptions? (Not just the position, but actual source, if possible, in case there are national or regional differences to take into consideration.)
    – user30536
    Commented May 16, 2023 at 5:37
  • @user30536 Thank you. I have a couple of problems in mind, but I was thinking of publishing a more substantial survey when I have more facts. I will post something here in the next day or so, as I agree it could be helpful and interesting
    – Laska
    Commented May 16, 2023 at 10:22

1 Answer 1


The touch-move rule has existed since at least 1497, although possibly earlier since there was little documentation of chess at that time. Up until a few years before 1931, there was a rule that if the move was illegal you had to move your king. This did not mean that you could not castle (assuming that you hadn't touched a piece other than the king). However, if one made an illegal move and then was forced to move their king, they could not castle (as it also involved the rook).

This led to problems, such as an 1893 game wherein a player was forced to move their king on move three, possibly resulting in checkmate (sources are unclear). This was documented in Edward Winter's Chess Notes 5381.

[Title "Lindemann-Echtermeyer, Kiel, Kiel Germany, 1893"]
[FEN ""]

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Ke2?? Qe4# 
  • 1
    Thanks for this, great start. Looking for something specific. I know for example that there were 1862 & 1883 rule sets. The 1893 game sounds interesting though.
    – Laska
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 18:07
  • But there is no evidence presented that this particular game (or the situation it embodies) actually led to a rule change. The rules used at the event (8th congress of the German Chess Association) seem to have been the standard rules for that particular organization. If those rules were changed in the early 1930s (as you seem to imply), it needs a bit more to connect the game with the change, don't you think? Or did the change in 1930s change some other rules?
    – user30536
    Commented Apr 9, 2023 at 17:33
  • There is no evidence that that specific game did. There is that evidence that is was changed because of problems it caused (that being an example) @user30536 Commented Apr 9, 2023 at 20:02

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