The Most Illegal Chess Move of All-Time

An interesting article appeared on the chess24 website today, “The 7 most illegal chess moves of all time.” (
I read it with interest, wondering if a move played here in Atlanta some years ago had made the cut. Although it is one of the strangest moves in the history of chess, it is not included in the chess24 article. I refer to a game played at the 2008 National High School Championships. I quote the article, dated April 23, 2008, “Photo Essay from Atlanta,” by Elizabeth Vicary, on the website of the USCF:
“A strange thing happened on board two in the last round. Warren Harper (2340) was white against Adam Weser (2105); they reached this position:
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e5 Nfd7 6.h4 a6 7.Qg4 Bxg5 8.hxg5 c5
Harper played 9. g6 and Weser responded 9… f5. Harper now attempted to play 10. gxf5 e.p., which obviously is illegal. Weser pointed this out and added 2 minutes to his clock, but did not claim touch move. Harper played 10. Qf4 and the game continued for two more moves, at which point Weser realized he should have claimed touch move earlier. He called over the section chief, who ruled that since ten moves had not gone by, the players should return to the position after 9…f5, and white had to move his g pawn. (Clearly, this was an incorrect ruling—the ten move statute of limitations applies to illegal moves but not to touch move claims, which must be made immediately.)
Since his queen was in take, Harper immediately resigned. He then asked if he could appeal, and the TD, who was reportedly beginning to have second thoughts about his own ruling, said that would not be necessary but rather that he himself would ask Chief Floor TD for his opinion ( Correction: The original article said that Franc Guadalupe was the Chief Floor TD. He was not the Floor Chief nor the Section Chief and was not involved in the decisions.). The Chief Floor TD immediately reversed the decision, and the two players, who had by this point packed up their stuff and left the tournament room, were summoned back and instructed to continue the game from the point where Weser had made the touch move claim. Weser “seemed rattled” according to Harper, but did not protest. The game continued as “a complicated middlegame, which became a slightly better (for white) ending, at the end of which Weser blundered a piece” (Harper).
After the game was restarted, one of Weser’s parents protested the ruling, which resulted in Adam being given an extra half point after losing. While this bonus seems like a reasonable compensation for the TD’s mistake, it’s very strange to me that a parent has any right to make a protest at all at the high school level. Needless to say, not quite as surprising as a 2300 not understanding en passant, an expert not understanding touch move, or a section chief making such an obviously incorrect ruling.
On his way into the awards ceremony to receive his third place trophy, Harper half-jokingly remarked, “I hope this doesn’t give me bad karma.”
Here is the complete game from the article, for the record:
National High School Championships, Atlanta, 2008
White: Harper, Warren
Black: Weser, Adam
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e5 Nfd7 6.h4 a6 7.Qg4 Bxg5 8.hxg5 c5 9.g6 f5 10.Qf4 cxd4 11.Rxh7 Rg8 12.Nce2 Nc6 13.Nf3 Qc7 14.O-O-O Nf8 15.Rh5 Nxg6 16.Qh2 Ncxe5 17.Nexd4 Qb8 18.Nxe5 Qxe5 19.Qxe5 Nxe5 20.Re1 Nc6 21.Nxe6 Bxe6 22.Rxe6+ Kd7 23.Rg6 Ne7 24.Rb6 Kc7 25.Re6 Kd7 26.Re1 Kd6 27.Bd3 g6 28.Rh7 Rae8 29.Kd2 Rh8 30.Rexe7 Rxe7 31.Rxh8 1-0


One thought on “The Most Illegal Chess Move of All-Time

  1. […] Wednesday, August 20, 2014, I posted “The Most Illegal Chess Move of All-Time.” ( After posting I began a new thread on the USCF forum in which I provided a link to the above […]

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