Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The following document is a transcription of the laws of chess reproduced here by kind permission of the international chess federation (FIDE). It is a fully accessible HTML document that can be easily read by screen-readers. Use the links in the contents list to jump directly to the various sections of the document. You can also press tab and shift+tab to move directly between the headings.





FIDE Laws of Chess cover over-the-board play.

The Laws of Chess have two parts: 1. Basic Rules of Play and 2. Competition Rules.

The English text is the authentic version of the Laws of Chess (which were adopted at the 88th FIDE Congress at Goynuk, Antalya, Turkey) coming into force on 1 January 2018.

In these Laws the words ‘he’, ‘him’, and ‘his’ shall be considered to include ‘she’ and ‘her’.


The Laws of Chess cannot cover all possible situations that may arise during a game, nor can they regulate all administrative questions. Where cases are not precisely regulated by an Article of the Laws, it should be possible to reach a correct decision by studying analogous situations which are regulated in the Laws. The Laws assume that arbiters have the necessary competence, sound judgement and absolute objectivity. Too detailed a rule might deprive the arbiter of his freedom of judgement and thus prevent him from finding a solution to a problem dictated by fairness, logic and special factors.

FIDE appeals to all chess players and federations to accept this view.

A necessary condition for a game to be rated by FIDE is that it shall be played according to the FIDE Laws of Chess.

It is recommended that competitive games not rated by FIDE be played according to the FIDE Laws of Chess.

Member federations may ask FIDE to give a ruling on matters relating to the Laws of Chess.


Article 1: The nature and objectives of the game of chess

Article 2: The initial position of the pieces on the chessboard

Article 3: The moves of the pieces

Article 4: The act of moving the pieces

Article 5: The completion of the game


Article 6: The chessclock

Article 7: Irregularities

Article 8: The recording of the moves

Article 9: The drawn game

Article 10: Points

Article 11: The conduct of the players

Article 12: The role of the Arbiter (see Preface)


Appendix A: Rapid chess

Appendix B: Blitz

Appendix C: Algebraic notation

FIDE recognises for its own tournaments and matches only one system of notation, the Algebraic System, and recommends the use of this uniform chess notation also for chess literature and periodicals. Scoresheets using a notation system other than algebraic may not be used as evidence in cases where normally the scoresheet of a player is used for that purpose. An arbiter who observes that a player is using a notation system other than the algebraic should warn the player of this requirement.

Description of the Algebraic System

Sample game: 1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 exd4 4. e5 Ne4 5. Qxd4 d5 6. exd6 e.p. Nxd6 7. Bg5 Nc6 8.

Qe3+ Be7 9. Nbd2 0-0 10. 0-0-0 Re8 11. Kb1 (=) Or: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 ed4 4. e5 Ne4 5. Qd4 d5 6. ed6 Nd6 7. Bg5 Nc6 8. Qe3 Be7 9 Nbd2 0-0 10. 0-0-0 Re8 11. Kb1 (=)

Or: 1. e2e4 e7e5 2.Ng1f3 Ng8f6 3. d2d4 e5xd4 4. e4e5 Nf6e4 5. Qd1xd4 d7d5 6. e5xd6 e.p. Ne4xd6 7. Bc1g5 Nb8c6 8. Qd4d3 Bf8e7 9. Nb1d2 0-0 10. 0-0-0 Rf8e8 11. Kb1 (=)

Appendix D: Rules for play with blind and visually disabled players

Guidelines I: Adjourned games

Guidelines II: Chess960 Rules

Guidelines III: Games without increment including Quickplay Finishes

Glossary of terms in the Laws of Chess

The number after the term refers to the first time it appears in the Laws.

4.2. Giving notice that the player wishes to adjust a piece, but does not necessarily intend to move it.
adjourn: 8.1. Instead of playing the game in one session it is temporarily halted and then continued at a later time.
algebraic notation: 8.1. Recording the moves using a-h and 1-8 on the 8x8 board.
analyse: 11.3. Where one or more players make moves on a board to try to determine what is the best continuation.
appeal: 11.10. Normally a player has the right to appeal against a decision of the arbiter or organiser.
arbiter: Preface. The person(s) responsible for ensuring that the rules of a competition are followed. arbiter’s discretion: There are approximately 39 instances in the Laws where the arbiter must use his judgement.
assistant: 8.1. A person who may help the smooth running of the competition in various ways.
attack: 3.1. A piece is said to attack an opponent’s piece if the player’s piece can make a capture on that square.
black: 2.1.1. There are 16 dark-coloured pieces and 32 squares called black. Or 2. When capitalised, this also refers to the player of the black pieces.
blitz: B. A game where each player’s thinking time is 10 minutes or less.
board: 2.4. Short for chessboard.
Bronstein mode: 6.3.2 See delay mode.
capture: 3.1. Where a piece is moved from its square to a square occupied by an opponent’s piece, the latter is removed from the board. See also i In notation x.
castling: 3.8.2 A move of the king towards a rook. See the article. In notation 0-0 kingside castling, 0-0-0 queenside castling.
cellphone: See mobile phone.
check: 3.9. Where a king is attacked by one or more of the opponent’s pieces. In notation +.
checkmate: 1.2. Where the king is attacked and cannot parry the threat. In notation ++ or #.
chessboard: 1.1. The 8x8 grid as in 2.1.
chessclock: 6.1. A clock with two time displays connected to each other.
chess set: The 32 pieces on the chessboard.
Chess960: A variant of chess where the back-row pieces are set up in one of the 960 distinguishable possible positions
claim: 6.8. The player may make a claim to the arbiter under various circumstances.
clock: 6.1. One of the two time displays.
completed move: 6.2.1 Where a player has made his move and then pressed his clock.
contiguous area: 12.8. An area touching but not actually part of the playing venue. For example, the area set aside for spectators.
cumulative (Fischer) mode: Where a player receives an extra amount of time (often 30 seconds) prior to each move.
dead position: 5.2.2 Where neither player can mate the opponent’s king with any series of legal moves.
default time: 6.7. The specified time a player may be late without being forfeited.
delay (Bronstein) mode: 6.3.2 Both players receive an allotted ‘main thinking time’. Each player also receives a ‘fixed extra time’ with every move. The countdown of the main thinking time only commences after the fixed extra time has expired. Provided the player presses his clock before the expiration of the fixed extra time, the main thinking time does not change, irrespective of the proportion of the fixed extra time used.
demonstration board: 6.13. A display of the position on the board where the pieces are moved by hand.
diagonal: 2.4. A straight line of squares of the same colour, running from one edge of the board to an adjacent edge.
disability: 6.2.6 A condition, such as a physical or mental handicap, that results in partial or complete loss of a person's ability to perform certain chess activities.
displaced: 7.4.1 to put or take pieces from their usual place. For example, a pawn from a2 to a4.5; a rook partway between d1 and e1; a piece lying on its side; a piece knocked onto the floor.
draw: 5.2. Where the game is concluded with neither side winning.
draw offer: 9.1.2 Where a player may offer a draw to the opponent. This is indicated on the scoresheet with the symbol (=).
e-cigarette: device containing a liquid that is vaporised and inhaled orally to simulate the act of smoking tobacco.
en passant: See that article for an explanation. In notation e.p.
exchange: 1. Where a pawn is promoted. Or 2.Where a player captures a piece of the same value as his own and this piece is recaptured. Or 3. Where one player has lost a rook and the other has lost a bishop or knight.
explanation: 11.9. A player is entitled to have a Law explained.
fair play: 12.2.1 Whether justice has been done has sometimes to be considered when an arbiter finds that the Laws are inadequate.
file: 2.4. A vertical column of eight squares on the chessboard.
Fischer mode: See cumulative mode.
flag: 6.1. The device that displays when a time period has expired.
flag-fall: 6.1. Where the allotted time of a player has expired.
forfeit: 4.8.1. To lose the right to make a claim or move. Or 2. To lose a game because of an infringement of the Laws.
handicap: See disability.
I adjust: See j’adoube.
illegal: 3.10.1. A position or move that is impossible because of the Laws of Chess.
impairment: See disability.
increment: 6.1. An amount of time (from 2 to 60 seconds) added from the start before each move for the player. This can be in either delay or cumulative mode.
intervene: 12.7. To involve oneself in something that is happening in order to affect the outcome.
kingside: 3.8.1. The vertical half of the board on which the king stands at the start of the game.
legal move: See Article 3.10a.
made: 1.1. A move is said to have been ‘made’ when the piece has been moved to its new square, the hand has quit the piece, and the captured piece, if any, has been removed from the board.
mate: Abbreviation of checkmate. minor piece. Bishop or knight.
mobile phone: 11.3.2. Cellphone.
monitor: 6.13. An electronic display of the position on the board.
move: 1.1. 1. 40 moves in 90 minutes, refers to 40 moves by each player. Or 2. having the move refers to the player’s right to play next. Or 3. White’s best move refers to the single move by White.
move-counter: 6.10.2. A device on a chessclock which may be used to record the number of times the clock has been pressed by each player.
normal means: G.5. Playing in a positive manner to try to win; or, having a position such that there is a realistic chance of winning the game other than just flag-fall. organiser. 8.3. The person responsible for the venue, dates, prize money, invitations, format of the competition and so on.
over-the-board: Introduction. The Laws cover only this type of chess, not internet, nor correspondence, and so on.
penalties: 12.3. The arbiter may apply penalties as listed in 12.9 in ascending order of severity.
piece: 2. 1. One of the 32 figurines on the board. Or 2. A queen, rook, bishop or knight.
playing area: 11.2. The place where the games of a competition are played.
playing venue: 11.2. The only place to which the players have access during play.
points: 10. Normally a player scores 1 point for a win, ½ point for a draw, 0 for a loss. An alternative is 3 for a win, 1 for a draw, 0 for a loss.
press the clock: 6.2.1 The act of pushing the button or lever on a chess clock which stops the player’s clock and starts that of his opponent.
promotion: Where a pawn reaches the eighth rank and is replaced by a new queen, rook, bishop or knight of the same colour.
queen: As in queen a pawn, meaning to promote a pawn to a queen.
queenside: 3.8.1. The vertical half of the board on which the queen stands at the start of the game.
quickplay finish: G. The last part of a game where a player must complete an unlimited number of moves in a finite time.
rank: 2.4. A horizontal row of eight squares on the chessboard.
rapid chess: A. A game where each player’s thinking time is more than 10 minutes, but less than 60.
repetition: 5.3.1. 1. A player may claim a draw if the same position occurs three times. 2. A game is drawn if the same position occurs five times.
resigns: 5.1.2 Where a player gives up, rather than play on until mated.
rest rooms: 11.2. Toilets, also the room set aside in World Championships where the players can relax.
result: 8.7. Usually the result is 1-0, 0-1 or ½-½. In exceptional circumstances both players may lose (Article 11.8), or one score ½ and the other 0. For unplayed games the scores are indicated by +/- (White wins by forfeit), -/+ (Black wins by forfeit), -/- (Both players lose by forfeit).
regulations of an event: 6.7.1 At various points in the Laws there are options. The regulations of an event must state which have been chosen.
sealed move: E. Where a game is adjourned the player seals his next move in an envelope.
scoresheet: 8.1. A paper sheet with spaces for writing the moves. This can also be electronic.
screen: 6.13. An electronic display of the position on the board.
spectators: 11.4. People other than arbiters or players viewing the games. This includes players after their games have been concluded.
standard chess: G3. A game where each player’s thinking time is at least 60 minutes.
stalemate: 5.2.1 Where the player has no legal move and his king is not in check.
square of promotion: The square a pawn lands on when it reached the eighth rank.
supervise: 12.2.5 Inspect or control.
time control: 1. The regulation about the time the player is allotted. For example, 40 moves in 90 minutes, all the moves in 30 minutes, plus 30 seconds cumulatively from move 1. Or 2. A player is said ‘to have reached the time control’, if, for example he has completed the 40 moves in less than 90 minutes.
time period: 8.6. A part of the game where the players must complete a number of moves or all the moves in a certain time.
touch move: 4.3. If a player touches a piece with the intention of moving it, he is obliged to move it.
vertical: 2.4. The 8th rank is often thought as the highest area on a chessboard. Thus each file is referred to as ‘vertical’.
white: 2.2. 1. There are 16 light-coloured pieces and 32 squares called white. Or 2. When capitalised, this also refers to the player of the white pieces.
zero tolerance: 6.7.1. Where a player must arrive at the chessboard before the start of the session.
50-move rule: 5.3.2 A player may claim a draw if the last 50 moves have been completed by each player without the movement of any pawn and without any capture.
75-move rule: 9.6.2 The game is drawn if the last 75 moves have been completed by each player without the movement of any pawn and without any capture.