I participated in a club and went to training. The guy who played against me is right-handed, so he placed the clock on the right. I'm left-handed, so I play with the left hand and press the clock with my right hand since it's closer. It's not very convenient to press it with my left hand, as it's too far.

I was told that in tournaments, I have to press the clock with the same hand I use to move pieces. This is very annoying; is it a real rule? And can I place the clock on the left side? Why does the right-handed player get to place the clock on his right and not the other way around?

  • 17
    I don't understand... if he places the clock on his right then it will be on your left. If he places it on your right then it is on his left which would seem to be inconvenient to him as well as you.
    – Michael
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 17:04
  • 1
    @Michael i kinda messed up there, but i'll leave the question as is, he placed the clock on my right hand, i want it to be on my left
    – Lynob
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 10:17

4 Answers 4


The numbers refer to rules in the FIDE laws of chess.

6.2. A player must press his clock with the same hand with which he made his move. It is forbidden for a player to keep his finger on the clock or to ‘hover’ over it.

The rule that you have to press the clock with the same hand that you use to move the pieces is there to prevent players from pressing the clock before they have completed the move: if one is in such a time trouble that this rule matters, he/she would very probably, perhaps unconsciously, press the clock before he has clearly released his hand from the piece if this rule was not enforced. Nobody wants to see their opponent's hand over the board when their clock is running and they need to make a move quickly.

Often, the player with the black pieces is allowed to decide which side of the board the clock is on. Technically, the arbiter may place the clock on the side of the board where he sees it better [rule 6.5]. Often the player with the black pieces may choose on which side of the board he sits on, amounting to the same. (But this is no longer a rule in the Fide laws; some tournaments may not allow even doing that, for example because of carefully adjusted digital boards; in these cases the clock is almost always on the queenside (black's right hand side and white's left hand side).


Yes, press the clock with the same hand you use to move pieces is an actual rule in official tournaments (see Article 6.2.b of the FIDE Laws of chess).

Concerning the placement of the clock before the game, "the arbiter shall decide where the chessclock is placed" (see Article 6.5 in the same link as above). However the arbiter doesn't always give a recommendation. In that case it is conventional that the player with the Black pieces chooses the side for the clock.

  • 1
    USCF rules, unlike FIDE's, actually say that the player of the black pieces chooses the clock location unless the director requires otherwise: "16L. The director may require that clocks face a certain direction or that black or white sit on a particular side of the table. In the absence of such a requirement, unless black is late arriving for the start of the game (39A1), black determines which side of the board the clock is on, and the player arriving at the chessboard first may choose either side of the table to sit on."
    – itub
    Commented Feb 14, 2018 at 14:23

To back up the other answers, yes of course it's a rule. Moving with one hand and pressing the clock with the other is cheating.

As a right-handed player (i.e. I write with my right hand) I make the obvious choice, when I'm given it, of putting the clock on the left hand side. Moving with the left hand is just as easy as with the right but I need my scorebook / scoresheet on the right hand side so that I can write the moves with my right hand. That is much easier with the clocks on the left. That way the clock doesn't take space I need for my scorebook and my clock action doesn't interfere with writing the moves.

My advice is learn to move with your left hand. It is much easier than learning to write with your left.

  • Small addendum: Like Brian, I'm trained to play left or right-handed, and I usually blitz the opening with left and the middlegame with right. This is perfectly allowed: the one-hand rule holds for one and the same move! (By the way, a violation is punished just as if e.g. you left the king in check, §7,5,4/5 FIDE rules.) What you may do with both hands in a move: 1. Fetch a promoted piece from elsewhere (but not place it on the board, that belongs tothe move again!), 2. write down the move. P.S. I've seen blitz specialists castling in one hand-movement... Commented Mar 25, 2021 at 18:22

Ignore where the clock is placed and only concentrate on quickly using the same hand to move a piece and tap the clock. After a time it will come naturally.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.