Lesson in Touch Move?

There was an interesting (albeit erroneous) document circulating on the Kenyan Chess Forum that was highlighted here yesterday. I removed the story after GM Amon Simutowe stated that it was simply one of many data entry errors in Libya. The report illustrated a game from the 2009 African Championships between Simutowe (Zambia) and IM Khaled Abdel-Razik (Egypt).

In the game, there came the following position:

Simutowe-Abdel-Razik (after 17...Qc5-xa3)

Position after 17…Qc5xa3

The Zambian GM was a pawn down and a black queenside steamroller was looming. Thirty moves later, black had begun tightening his grip and got to the following position:

Simutowe-Abdel-Razik (after 47...Qc4-c3)

Position after 47…Qc4-c3

The Kenyan report then gave a strange occurrence. The official database had the move 48.Qxa7?? and of course this merely hangs the queen to 48…Nxa7. The Kenyan report repeated the data entry mistake but came up with a fascinating explanation after black’s 48…Qc2??:

Watch what happens here. White picks up his Queen to move, and Black picks up his Queen prematurely to reply, so White completes his move by grabbing a pawn.

Grabbing pieces prematurely is a common occurrence in time pressure, but this did not occur. In fact Simutowe played 48.Qa4 and the game continued without any incident. However, the question remains… “would black have to move the queen in the above situation?”

The FIDE rulebook makes no mention of this, but general “touch move” rules state that a player must wait until his opponent completes his move by quitting the piece and pressing the clock before attempting to make a move. Imagine the controversy if this had actually happened in a real tournament… and black had a rook on a8!! 😕

(Note: If there are any arbiters out there, please shed some light on this interesting topic.)


  1. And here I thought you were going to do an entry about Melissa – as she is from Africa – You’ve done one on GM Amon Simutowe – (from Africa). 🙂

  2. Why would I write about Melissa in this entry? 😕

    You are referring to my article on Bassem (not Simutowe), right? The Simutowe article was about him finishing the GM title. I believe you know a lot more about her than I do. Have you written one?

  3. hi Daaim, no not in this entry, thought you were going to have a separate one 🙂 I’ve done one, but you have more contacts than I have with the officials in SA.

  4. No… I have few contacts there. There is not even an article written in South African press about Melissa. I saw your entry, but there wasn’t too many details on her history.

    We should not discuss this on this blog thread. You can always e-mail me if you have questions about stories.

  5. I think the illegal act occurred when the second player touches his piece while its not his turn to move. Especially in this case where QxQ was possible.

  6. Of course, but can the first player take advantage of that with Qxa7… that’s the question. The second player cannot call an illegal action on himself if white decides to steal a pawn.

  7. In light of that and more careful thought , I think Black should be forced to move the queen after Qxa7. I would like to hear from an IA there opinions.

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