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In chess, “adjust” refers to the act of making a small change to the position of a piece on its square without changing the piece’s location.

This is typically done to ensure that the piece is centered on its square or to indicate to the opponent that the player has decided not to make a move.

Similar terms: touch, straighten, center, nudge, tweak, fine-tune, align, correct, rectify, modify

Why is Adjusting important?

Adjusting a piece is important because it helps to keep the board neat and tidy, making it easier for both players to visualize the position.

It also serves as a way for a player to indicate that they have decided not to make a move, which can be useful in situations where the player has touched a piece but then realized that moving it would be a mistake.

Examples of Adjusting

  1. A player slightly centers a knight on its square after realizing that they do not want to move it.
  2. A player straightens a rook that has been accidentally nudged off-center during the game.

Variations of Adjusting

  1. J’adoube: This French term, meaning “I adjust,” is used by players to indicate that they are adjusting a piece without the intention of moving it. Players may say “j’adoube” before touching a piece to avoid any confusion.
  2. Adjusting on the opponent’s turn: In some cases, a player may adjust a piece on their opponent’s turn, usually to straighten a piece that has been knocked off-center. This is generally accepted as long as the adjusting player does not interfere with their opponent’s move.

How to Adjust

  1. Gently touch the piece you wish to adjust, ensuring that you do not apply pressure or accidentally move the piece to a different square.
  2. If the piece is off-center, carefully slide it to the center of its square without lifting it off the board.
  3. If you are adjusting a piece on your turn, you may say “j’adoube” or “I adjust” to clarify your intention to your opponent.
  4. If you accidentally touch a piece that you did not intend to move, you must move that piece if it is legal to do so. If it is not legal, you must move your king (if possible) or any other legal move.

Famous examples of Adjusting

  1. In the 1972 World Chess Championship, Bobby Fischer complained that the chess pieces were not properly centered on their squares, leading to a minor controversy and highlighting the importance of piece placement.
  2. In the 1978 World Chess Championship, Viktor Korchnoi accused Anatoly Karpov of adjusting pieces on the board to distract him, leading to heightened tensions between the two players.

The “touch-move” rule

In chess, there is a rule known as “touch-move,” which states that if a player touches a piece with the intention of moving it, they must move that piece if it is legal to do so.

  • This rule is in place to prevent players from testing out different moves by touching pieces.
  • Adjusting a piece is an exception to this rule, as long as the player clearly indicates their intention to adjust the piece and does not move it to a different square.
  • Be aware of the touch-move rule and to make their intentions clear when touching pieces on the board.

Related Terms

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