"Chess Lingo" Chess forum
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Andres Villasante at 2004-01-30
Ever listen to two good players going over their game in a tournament? Here is what you might hear:
Player 1: "Lessee, if you go Rf5, then I go Rd8."
Player 2: "Box."
Player 1: "Right! If not for Rd8, I’m in Zug!"
Player 2: "Yeh, no moves. You really blew it when you missed my zweischenzug earlier."
Player 1: "What about my fingerfehlur on the 10th move!?"
Player 2: "Nah, your mistake was allowing me to set up the battery on the a1 to h8 diagonal."
Player 1: "Right, I just gotta learn how to handle the Scheveningen."
A totally different language...just what does all that stuff mean, anyway? Well, I am going to give you a list of some of the most common bizarre chess terms, along with my interpretations. In some cases, I’ll even tell you the origin. So, here we go:
JADOUBE – Gezunheidt! Seriously, what you hear when your opponent adjusts his pieces. French for "I adjust."
ZUGZWANG – German for “a compulsion to move”. Usually refers to a position in which any move loses, like any point in my games. Sometimes shortened to ZUG.
FINGERFEHLUR – Another German term. This one is for "blunder."
EN PASSANT – The pawn move no one understands. That’s why it’s in French.
ZWEISCHENZUG – Another neat German word. This one’s for “in between move.” Normally my opponents make these.
BOX – You don’t know? Then you don’t read ECO. The “only move” in a given position, indicated in ECO by a little box, thus the term.
BATTERY – What you start your car with. If you play chess, though, it is a combination of forces that are unleashed when one piece moves and uncovers the power of another.
BLUNDER – Every move I make.
EXCLAM – Every move my opponent makes.
OPPOSITION – A position where the Kings are facing each other with one square between them.
SCHEVENINGEN – A variation of the Sicilian...YOU pronounce it.
NAJDORF – Another Sicilian. I’ll be nice. It’s pronounced "NIDORF."
RESIGNS – What your opponents love to hear.
ZNOSKO-BOROVSKY – A famous Russian chess player, now dead.
ILJIN-ZNENEVSKY – Another one.
EN PRISE – Leaving a piece on a square where it can be taken for nothing.
ISOLANI – A pawn alone on a file, with no adjacent pawns to protect it. Could also be used to describe the average chess player.
SAC – If you’re a master, it’s the move you give up your Queen on in order to mate. If you’re a mere mortal, it’s the bag you carry your chess set in.
GAMBIT – A chess opening where one or more pawns are sacrificed for a lead in development or an attack. So, why do they call it the “Queen's Gambit”?
OPENING – Period of the game where you don’t remember what to do.
MIDDLEGAME – Period of the game where you don’t know what to do.
ENDING – Period of the game where you never knew what to do in the first place.
DRAW – The offer you always make just one move too late.
Well! Now you are an expert on chess terminology. What? You say you can’t pronounce half the words? Well, neither can the guys who write them in the books. They can only spell them. Nobody ever says “zweischenzug”. They’ll say “in between move” or something. You’ll notice that the ones who do try to pronounce them end up mumbling something, usually with their hands over their mouths. “What did you say?” is the question. The answer is, "Oh, come on, do I have to spell it for you? It’s an in between move, for crying out loud!"
Go out now, and impress your friends. When they ask you where you learned all those neat words, tell them at The Open File web site. Then, get them to visit. And why? It’s simple...