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I am interested in entering some rapid tournaments in England, and have heard that the rules for the rapid games are somewhat different than standard play rules. For example, I was told you can legally take your opponent's king if he fails to spot a check (and win the game in the process). Also, the touch-move rule does not apply - apparently you are allowed to touch a piece, take it back and play another piece - only when you press the clock does your decision become permanent.

I have picked up these hints from casual conversations at my local club - it is entirely possible that these are not really the "official" rapid play rules (ECF or otherwise) but that of a specific tournament, that these are actually blitz rules and not rapid play rules, or it may even be my club members taking my inexperience for a ride. Is my understanding of these rules correct? If I were to enter a rapid play tournament, what other differences from the normal tournament rules could I expect?

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You should read the rules from this page, sections A and B. Also, I would strongly advise you to ask a referee about this just to be safe from making a mistake or from embarrassing yourself. You can come earlier before the game starts ( 1 hour will be enough for the referee to explain you everything you need to know and for you to have time to relax and psychologically prepare for the game ) and just ask him/her to explain you what you want to know ( it would be wise to write down your questions ).

I was told you can legally take your opponent's king if he fails to spot a check (and win the game in the process).

I haven't had such a case, but if the opponent plays illegal move you can stop the clock and claim a win-see the rules in the section A in the link I posted.

Also, the touch-move rule does not apply - apparently you are allowed to touch a piece, take it back and play another piece - only when you press the clock does your decision become permanent.

No, that is not the way I remember. If you touch the piece you must play with it but your opponent can hold it in the air / drag it over the board / continuously put it on the board-pick it up-put it on another square, until he presses the clock. This is very rude behavior but is allowed.

If I were to enter a rapid play tournament, what other differences from the normal tournament rules could I expect?

Read the rules from the link I posted above, and talk to the referee before the tournament just so you can be sure and safe.

This is all I know, I haven't played blitz for 11 years-that is why I have advised you to talk a little with the referee.

If you have further questions leave a comment and I will try to help.

Good luck on your tournament!

THIS EDIT CORRECTS MISTAKES POINTED OUT IN COMMENTS BELOW:

I will just quote member Remco Gerlich :

About illegal move ( emphasis is mine ):

In rapidplay, an illegal move does not lose the game. The same penalties as in slow play apply (have to take it back and move with the touched piece, opponent gets 2 minutes extra on the clock, 3rd time in the same game is game loss). The difference with slow chess is that in rapid you must claim before you make your own move, in slow chess the position will always be reinstated no matter how long ago it happened. Illegal move is only a loss in blitz chess (section B).

About making a move according to the rules:

Also, no you can't keep moving your piece until you press the clock, you can keep moving it until you let go of it.

Best regards.

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    In rapidplay, an illegal move does not lose the game. The same penalties as in slow play apply (have to take it back and move with the touched piece, opponent gets 2 minutes extra on the clock, 3rd time in the same game is game loss). The difference with slow chess is that in rapid you must claim before you make your own move, in slow chess the position will always be reinstated no matter how long ago it happened. Illegal move is only a loss in blitz chess (section B). – RemcoGerlich Jan 28 '14 at 18:50
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    Also, no you can't keep moving your piece until you press the clock, you can keep moving it until you let go of it. – RemcoGerlich Jan 28 '14 at 18:51
  • @RemcoGerlich: Thank you for clarifying those out-as I have mentioned it was long ago since I played blitz. I will edit my post quoting your comments. Best regards. – AlwaysLearningNewStuff Jan 28 '14 at 18:55
  • @RemcoGerlich: Answer is edited as I have said. I have quoted you. Thank you again for the corrections. Best regards. – AlwaysLearningNewStuff Jan 28 '14 at 19:01
  • Thanks, this is very useful. I think chatting with the referee is a good idea. If I don't receive an ECF-specific answer in the next few days, I'll mark this as the correct answer. – firtydank Jan 29 '14 at 7:06
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I'm afraid the earlier answer is just plain wrong on the subject of illegal moves. An illegal move in both rapidplay and blitz does lose the game.

Here is the relevant section of the rules:

An illegal move is completed once the player has pressed his clock. If the arbiter observes this he shall declare the game lost by the player, provided the opponent has not made his next move. If the arbiter does not intervene, the opponent is entitled to claim a win, provided the opponent has not made his next move. However, the game is drawn if the position is such that the opponent cannot checkmate the player’s king by any possible series of legal moves. If the opponent does not claim and the arbiter does not intervene, the illegal move shall stand and the game shall continue.

Note that if your opponent leaves his king en prise he has made an illegal move and if no arbiter is watching your game and so can't or doesn't intervene then you should claim the win. If you take your opponents king then you legitimize his move and are yourself making an illegal move. He can then claim the game!

Only in the special circumstances that a rapidplay competition had at least one arbiter per 6 players AND the arbiters recorded the moves would standard rules apply.

Regarding the question about touch-move in rapidplay, the first time I played a formal rapidplay competition I had the same belief as the OP. My opponent was bemused (but didn't actually burst out laughing) when at one stage I took back one move before pressing the clock and made another move. The arbiter soon put me right.

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