FIDE (the governing body of international chess competition) says here:

The most relevant banned substances for chess are:

• Amphetamines – e.g. Adderall, Ritalin



enter image description here

I think either Ritalin should be in a separate category called methylphenidate or Adderall and Ritalin are categorised under 'stimulants (that you need a prescription for but don't have)' (then you can add vyvanse, desoxyn, concerta, etc) or something because afaik Ritalin/Concerta/Methylphenidate is not an amphetamine.

Or am I wrong: is Ritalin/Concerta/Methylphenidate actually an amphetamine?


1 Answer 1


Firstly, I'll mention that I'm not an expert on psychoactive drugs and their classifications; this is just based on my understanding of the situation as a chemist.

As far as chemical structures go, Ritalin (methylphenidate) probably should not be considered as an amphetamine:

Structures of methylphenidate and amphetamine

This comparison (where I've highlighted the amphetamine core in blue) might make it look as if Ritalin is derived from an amphetamine. To a certain extent that is true, but the general class of amphetamines doesn't actually allow arbitrary substitution of the amphetamine core. In particular, the name amphetamine is derived from α-methylphenethylamine, which explicitly specifies the methyl group at the α-position (i.e. next to the $\ce{NH2}$ group). To stick something on the end of that methyl group, as is the case in Ritalin, would invalidate this.*

A more technically correct, and general, term that would encompass both the amphetamines as well as Ritalin would just be something that took away the requirement for the α-methyl group. In other words, we are looking for just phenethylamines.

As for the legal technicalities: I am pretty sure that most phenethylamines are controlled drugs because of their psychoactive properties, and hence are likely to be on the list of banned substances. However, since I did not (and probably won't) read the rules in great detail, I'll avoid asserting that "phenethylamines" could be used as a drop-in replacement in there.

* The table on Wikipedia does actually show one example where the methyl group is modified to an ethyl group. However, I guess that would still be considered a very small change, compared to the piperidine ring in Ritalin.

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    $\begingroup$ thanks orthocresol♦. God bless you for this. did you add the arrow yourself? or did you get the image (including the arrow) somewhere? $\endgroup$
    – BCLC
    Commented Dec 1, 2021 at 15:06
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    $\begingroup$ I appreciate your thanks, but it's getting a bit much now. You don't need to overdo it. I drew the entire image myself using ChemDraw. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 1, 2021 at 16:44
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    $\begingroup$ The formatting is indeed beautiful. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 5, 2022 at 21:43

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