An extension was released 3 years ago in 2021Feb: Hikaru and GothamChess Tell You to MOVE (Time Management Extension). After a certain amount of elapsed time, you get notified by a voice of Hikaru Nakamura or Levy Rozman.


There isn't even a live elapsed time feature. You get to see how much time you or your opponent made a move after the move was made, but you don't get real time updates showing 0:00, 0:01, 0:02 like how much time has passed since the last move was made (except I guess for the very 1st moves made by each player).

To me, the only reason, this is not cheating is that it's allowed...if it is. This is what chess.com (supposedly) said to the creator:

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It says

As long as this extension doesn't analyze your game or help you with moves, it's completely in line with our policies and doesn't constitute cheating.

Well it doesn't directly 'help you with moves'. If someone's in the background suggesting moves then that is directly helping you with moves. But if someone's in the background pointing out a certain amount of time has elapsed, then they help you manage your time and so it helps you be more decisive with your moves - to settle on good moves over better moves (re the quote 'If you see a good move, look for a better one!'). I guess they don't help you make better moves, but they do indirectly 'help you with moves' in that you make ANY move instead of no moves, i.e. being flagged.

You might say you could do this manually because you could run a timer after every time your opponent makes a move, but

  1. The manual version is much harder to implement relative to its expected benefit especially in lower time controls.

  2. This extension automates this process by getting real time information from the game down to nanosecond accuracy. It's like those extensions that outright suggest moves (or even evaluation bar cheating) - they get real time info from what move was just made by your opponent.

  3. I don't believe players are allowed such extension in actual superGM tournaments. And even if they are - guess what, they're not allowed to do the aforementioned manual version because they can't have their phones with them. Lol.

Question: I can't believe chess.com allows this (and they technically never explicitly did). How isn't a time management extension like this cheating / unethical, i.e. how doesn't this actually 'help you with moves' ?

Edit to add notes based on some responses:

  1. The fact that something is allowed doesn't mean it's ethical / should be allowed. Keyboard extensions were previously allowed by lichess. (And the fact that something is forbidden doesn't mean it's unethical / shouldn't be allowed. Like pre-arranged draws, which were the reason behind the changes for the candidates in both 1962 & 2011 - ironically for opposite formats. But another story.) We can't evaluating what is or isn't ethical based solely on if it actually is or isn't allowed. Imagine if drawing arrows weren't a built-in feature. Don't tell me they're ethical depending only on whether or not they are allowed.

  2. Consider if this were allowed in chess.com but not, say, lichess or chesstempo (actual games or timed puzzles). Then suddenly it's cheating there but not here, as if this thing were like the 'castling with both hands' rule. Come on.

  3. Most importantly, pretend this was asked before chess.com gave an official ruling. Or just pretend you're making a website and deciding if it should be allowed or not (and afaik 'if it should be allowed' is the the same as 'if it is ethical', a question of what the law should be, independent of what the actual law is).

  4. Whataboutism: Scratch boards I think are forbidden, yet time management extensions are worse.

Scratch boards tell you only what you think. They just help you see more clearly. With scratch boards, everything is from your thinking only. You're just externalising your thinking. The extension tells you what another player thinks (namely a machine for evaluation bar cheating and an automated process based on real time information for the time management extensions).

Actually, here are 2 things that distinguish scratch boards & arrows from a time management extension:

  1. I think statistics (evaluation, move times, etc) are completely useless to determine if someone 'cheated' by using a scratch board or arrows. But I believe you can detect time management extension cheating like how you can detect evaluation bar cheating & even the regular telling-you-moves cheating.

  2. Scratch boards & arrows I believe won't help superGMs. Same as poker: I don't believe poker calculators (but not GTO solvers) would help poker pro's. But time management extensions would!

  • 1
    Are you (1) asking our opinion about whether this is ethical? (2) asking our opinion about why it is ethical? Or (3) telling us your opinion and asking us to debunk it. Please simplify your question.
    – Skye
    Mar 29 at 17:50
  • "Question: I can't believe chess.com allows this." Shouldn't the phrase "I can't believe chess.com allows this" proceed the question? Your statement may detract from the actual question here. Mar 29 at 18:54
  • @SecretAgentMan Well, I'm sceptical that chess.com allows this. They didn't explicitly allow it. They just said 'as long as (...)', which makes sense. They're not going to spend to prove innocence.
    – BCLC
    Mar 29 at 19:16
  • @Skye I'm explaining why I believe it's unethical (or at least hypocritical), and now I'm asking if this is indeed unethical.
    – BCLC
    Mar 29 at 19:16
  • 3
    I see you have done the opposite and added content instead of shortening and simplfying. This is not helping to improve the question.
    – Skye
    Mar 29 at 19:31

3 Answers 3


I can't believe chess.com allows this. How isn't a time management extension, such as the above, cheating / unethical?

Chess.com do not implement the FIDE Laws of Chess on their site. For instance 3-fold repetition is not an automatic draw in FIDE rated chess. Either player may claim but if neither player claims then the game goes on. On chess.com it is an automatic draw.

Chess.com say that on their site using the time management app is permitted hence it is not cheating and is not unethical.

  • 1 - What's an example of a FIDE online tournament besides the online olympiad? 2 - 'Chess.com say that on their site using the time management app is permitted' - What makes you say they allow it? 3 - So keyboard extensions were ethical before lichess banned them?
    – BCLC
    Mar 29 at 17:44

You ask:

how doesn't this actually 'help you with moves' ?

But you answer this yourself:

they do indirectly 'help you with moves' in that you make ANY move instead of no moves

  • well yeah there you go. it should be forbidden by chess dot com right?
    – BCLC
    Mar 30 at 20:56
  • @BCLC I have no idea.
    – Skye
    Mar 30 at 21:03

This is an edge case for fairness ethics, where chess.com has decided the small advantage given by a move timer is acceptable. Actually, online chess has many small advantages: clicking on a piece will show you legal moves, which is mainly useful for bullet endgames and beginners; the 2D board is arguably easier to read; you can draw arrows and make premoves; etc. None of these are legal in OTB chess (not sure about FIDE rated online events).

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