There is this touch-move rule which doesn't apply when the player says "Adjust" .

Wikipedia says :

To adjust the position of a piece on its square without being required to move it. A player may only do this on his turn to move , and he must first say "I adjust", or the French equivalent "J'adoube".

  • Is "only on his turn to move" a very strict and binding rule ?
    Since I see that this is done many times during the opponent's turn and no one complains about it .

  • Is this there so that the opponent doesn't get disturbed while calculating ?

  • If a scenario comes up where a piece is out of its square and is disturbing me, can I say adjust during his turn? (Maybe he may get irritated once in a blue moon.)

  • Is this rule required in all OTB events as it hardly gets followed ?

  • What is the historical background behind the "J'adoube"? Why is French the lingua franca in this case?

  • 2
    'What is the historical background behind the "J'adoube" ?' Do you ask why it is required to say "I adjust" in some language or are you interested in why French is the lingua franca in this case?
    – JiK
    Mar 9, 2015 at 21:10
  • 1
    @JiK Why French is the lingua franca in this case ?
    – stud
    Mar 11, 2015 at 10:01

3 Answers 3


If a scenario comes up where a piece is out of its square and is disturbing me , can I say adjust during his turn ? ( maybe he may get irritated once in a blue moon )

If it's your opponent's move, you were the last person to modify the board and had the opportunity to adjust then.

If it's bothering you that much then get up, get a drink of water, look at the other games, and wait until your opponent has moved and you can make the world right again.


From the FIDE Laws of chess:

4.2 Provided that he first expresses his intention (for example by saying “j’adoube” or “I adjust”), only the player having the move may adjust one or more pieces on their squares.

6.2.d Only the player whose clock is running is allowed to adjust the pieces.

The USCF rules are similar.

As you surmised, the rule is there to avoid distracting the opponent. In my experience in USCF tournaments, the rule is generally followed. If my opponent were to adjust a piece during my move, I probably would let it go if it only happened once, but if he continued, I would inform him that he can only do it on his own move.


OK, so it's your turn and you're in the middle of a deep long think in a complicated position when this big hairy arm reaches all the way across the board obscuring your view of a large part of the board and adjusts your castled king and rook. It's not just a quick tap of the piece. It's a lengthy, thumb and 2 fingers adjusting of the pieces. That's a good thing in your view? It doesn't matter, by the way, whether your opponent says "j'adoube" or anything else in that situation. It's not his turn and so he can have no intention of moving the pieces touched.

Do that to me and I'll immediately call the arbiter and I'll expect him to penalize you by giving me an extra 2 minutes on the clock. If an arbiter is actually watching and sees it happen I don't expect to have to complain and tell him. I expect him to intervene immediately and penalize you.

On the other hand we have in our club a couple of players with the following bad habit. They make a move, press the clock and then instinctively touch the piece further on its square whether it needs it or not before writing the move down. At standard time controls where I'm also writing the moves down I'd probably let this go but at rapid or blitz when time is more critical I'd complain to the arbiter.

Note that when I'm arbiter in a competition with these two players I warn them after the game if they do it and their opponent doesn't complain. If an opponent complains then I give an automatic 2 minute penalty. One player is pushing 70 and I don't really expect him to change. It's only thanks to the increment that he no longer hits the clock in Zeitnot, but the other player is in his mid 20's and quite strong (2100+). He needs to fix this bad habit before he starts getting penalized in stronger competitions.

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