In competition blitz games, making an illegal move and then pressing the clock forfeits the game if the opponent claims the illegal move as long as they do not make a new move, as a new move would void the previous illegal move according to FIDE blitz rules.

I've seen all kind of forfeits because of this reason in blitz games, including one player taking one of his own pawns.

However, the most common case for illegal moves is neglecting that the King is in check or unprotecting the King. In this case where the King is checked, if the opponent takes the exposed king and presses the clock, are they making a new illegal move, hence voiding the previous one?

I've been told that taking the King, even as a kind of "joke" to expose a previous illegal move, is an illegal move by itself, because the King cannot be taken, only mated. Is this true under FIDE rules?


2 Answers 2


Capturing the King is an illegal move according to FIDE.

Refer to Article 1.2 from the Laws of Chess

The objective of each player is to place the opponent’s king ‘under attack’ in such a way that the opponent has no legal move. The player who achieves this goal is said to have ‘checkmated’ the opponent’s king and to have won the game. Leaving one’s own king under attack, exposing one’s own king to attack and also ’capturing’ the opponent’s king are not allowed. The opponent whose king has been checkmated has lost the game.


This is actually very common in blitz games. Taking the opponent's king is considered to be a claim of an illegal move. You can see my answer to this question for some more information.

Since taking the opponent's king is a claim instead of a move, it immediately ends the game. In blitz games, the player "capturing" the king wins. In slower games, taking the king is in fact illegal, and if a player did this, the position would be reset to the position before the first illegal move, and then any touch move rules would apply. If there were time pressure considerations, one or both players could have two minutes added to their clocks at the arbiter's discretion.

From the FIDE Appendix for Blitz and Rapidplay

Article A.4.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.

  • 4
    Where is stated in the rules that taking the opponent's King is a claim instead of a move? I'm not sure it is inferred from the quoted Article A.4.c. Please note that I'm not talking about etiquette but about enforceable rules. I can only infer from A.4.c that if after the first King capture the other King is also taken, then it would be a draw because no one can be mated without Kings. However, the original post was really about if claiming the illegal move by taking the King was a doomed (and losing) idea, because it is some sort of common practice.
    – Pep
    Commented May 15, 2012 at 19:10
  • 6
    @Pep At least in USCF rules, taking the opponent king is explicitly interpreted as a claim, not a move. (excerpt of USCF blitz rules) This means that the "losing player" can never "recapture" the king because no move has been made - it is still the "winning" player's move. I don't think FIDE covers this situation because FIDE wants an arbiter per game who would stop the game if the king were captured. Consider this - after taking the king the only options are declare a win for the capturer, or say that taking the king is illegal and the game is lost by the capturer.
    – Andrew
    Commented May 15, 2012 at 22:14
  • 4
    the question is not about USCF but FIDE rules, so this answer is plain wrong.
    – peter
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 11:48

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