Touch piece

Touch-move rule

The touch-move rule is used in serious chess play. If a player intentionally touches a piece on the board when it is his term to move, then he must move or capture that piece, if it is legal to do so. The accidental brushing of a piece does not count as intentionally touching it. If a player's opponent violates the rule, he must claim the violation before making a move. A player may not touch the pieces on the board if it is the other player's turn to move. If a player wants to adjust a piece on its square without being required to move it, he can announce "adjust" or "j’adoube" before touching the piece .


If a player having the move touches one of his pieces as if having the intention of moving it, then he must move it if it can be legally moved. So long as the hand has not left the piece on a new square, the latter can be placed on any accessible square. Accidentally touching a piece, e.g. brushing against it while reaching for another piece, does not count as an intentional touch.

If a player touches a hostile piece then he must capture it if the piece can be captured. If a player touches one of his pieces and an opponent's piece, he must make that capture if it is a legal move, otherwise he is required to move or capture the first of the pieces that he touched. If it can not be determined whether he touched his own piece or the opponent's piece first, it is assumed that he touched his own piece first. If a player touches more than one piece, he must move or capture the first piece that can be legally moved or captured. An exception to that is an attempted illegal castling; in that case the king must be moved if possible, but otherwise there is no requirement to move the rook.

When castling, the king must be the first piece touched. If the player touches his rook at the same time as touching the king, he must castle with that rook if it is legal to do so. If the player completes a two-square king move without touching a rook, he must move the correct rook accordingly if castling in that direction is legal, and otherwise the move must be reverted and another king move made.

When a pawn is moved to its eighth rank, once the player takes his hand off the pawn, it can no longer be substituted for a different move of the pawn. However, the move is not complete until the promoted piece is released on that square .


In this game between Bobby Fischer and Jan Hein Donner, White was winning; Black had just moved 29... Qg5-f5 and White fell for a swindle. Fischer touched his bishop, intending to move 30. Bd3, which seems like a natural move, but then realized that Black could play 30... Rxc2, and after 31. Bxf5 Rc1 32. Qxc1 Bxc1, the game would be a draw, because of the opposite colored bishops endgame. After touching the bishop, he realized that 30. Bd3 was a bad move, but he was obligated to move the bishop, so after several seconds he moved 30. Bd3 since no other bishop move was better. A draw by agreement was reached after the 34th move. If Fischer had won this game, he would have tied with Boris Spassky for first place in the 1966 Piatigorsky Cup tournament . In this position in a rapid game in Tilburg in 1992 between Anatoly Karpov and Alexander Chernin, White had just promoted a pawn on e8. Black made the discovered check 53... Kd6+. Karpov, very short of time, didn't see that he was in check and touched his queen. He was required to move his queen, so he moved 54. Qe7+, which was answered by 54... Rxe7+. Karpov lost the game .

Adjusting pieces

If a player wishes to adjust the pieces on their squares without being required to move or capture the piece, he can announce J’adoube [ʒadub], which is a French expression (English: "I adjust"), or "I adjust" or words to that effect in other languages. J’adoube is internationally recognised by chess players as announcing the intent to make incidental contact with their pieces.

The phrase is used to give warning from a player to his opponent that he is about to touch a piece on the board, typically to centralise it on its square, without the intent of making a move with it. The touched piece rule requires that such a warning be given. Whilst this French term is customary, it is not obligatory; other similar indications may be used. A player may adjust a piece in this way only when it is his turn to move.

Example of misuse

There have been occasions in chess history when the phrase has been used after making a losing move so that the move could be retracted, thus attempting to sidestep the touch piece rule. Such behaviour is regarded as a blatant attempt to cheat. The Yugoslav Grandmaster Milan Matulović was nicknamed “J’adoubovic” after such an incident.

See also



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