The "Touch Move" Rule

Back to Learn Chess

Here are the basics of touch move:

  • If you touch a piece you have to move it if you can.
  • If you touch an opponents piece you have to take it if you can.
  • If you let your hand off a piece the move is over.

If you need to adjust your pieces, it is common to say "I adjust" before putting them in their proper place to prevent your opponent from saying, "Hey you touched that piece with the intention of moving you must move it!"

All kids serious about chess should play touch move.

  • It is good discipline...all kids need good discipline (yikes)
  • It teaches you to use your brain instead of your fingers.
  • It is good tournament preparation...all tournament games are touch move.

If you are going to play in any tournament, you will always play touch move. So why not start playing touch move now?

Touch Move FAQs

I touched my bishop trying to move it and then realized I was in check and I can't legally move my bishop. What happens now?  You do not have to move the bishop. Touch move cannot force you to make an illegal move. If you touch a piece that you cannot legally move, or legally take, its as if you never touched it.

I accidentally touched my king while trying to move my pawn. Do I have to move it? No. You must touch the piece with the intention of moving it. If you accidentally touch a piece it does not count. But your opponent might argue that you did touch the piece trying to move it and are lying about accidentally touching it. In this case a tournament director needs to come over and help you resolve your dispute.