Recently Vladimir Kramnik accused Hikaru Nakamura of cheating in online chess. He Tweeted : "It is impossible to imagine a player to be allowed to wear headphones during a game of chess." Or somethings along the lines of that. But is it actually illegal on chess.com? And also, are the FIDE rules forbidding it?

  • 2
    For FIDE my understanding is that they are OK to be worn if, and only if, they are specifically OK'ed by the arbiter. Relevant rule "11.3.2 During a game, a player is forbidden to have any electronic device not specifically approved by the arbiter in the playing venue." taken from handbook.fide.com/chapter/E012023 . I am not an arbiter, but no arbiter I know would allow such a use.
    – Ian Bush
    Commented Nov 27, 2023 at 12:04
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    As an arbiter, that is accurate. Just to extend this. Generally speaking we don't allow them. I have made exceptions in the past , generally with much younger players (children) , who have a medical condition (eg Developmental Disabilities) which loud environments can be challenging, and if the opponent is happy. Again, its extremely rare cases that I have seen this / allowed this.
    – Dheebs
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 9:17
  • Possibly relevant: Comment from Chess.com's Chief Chess Officer Commented Dec 1, 2023 at 12:54
  • Chess.com Official Event Rulebook, updated Nov 22, 2023, 12:36 PM Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 3:33

1 Answer 1


According to https://handbook.fide.com/files/handbook/OnlineChessRegulations.pdf

Rule 9.7 states that "Players are not allowed to have headphones in or over their ears during play."

I think that should clear any doubts in your mind. I have also personally played a couple of online chess events and I can definitely say that under no circumstances are you allowed to wear headphones during the match.

As in Hikaru's case, he is basically chess.com's main display man, so I can see why chess.com wouldn't mind him doing whatever he wants. You could say that chess.com literally doesn't care.

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