Lexique

L’alphabet des échecs :

Voici l’ensemble des définitions des mots principaux constituant le vocabulaire du jeu d’échecs :

[lang_fr]

A

Abandon
indication qu’un camp accepte la défaite. Dans le cadre d’une compétition, le joueur déclare oralement qu’il abandonne ou couche son roi. Il arrive qu’un joueur tende la main à son adversaire car la poignée de main conclut traditionnellement la partie, mais ce geste seul est déconseillé parce qu’il peut être confondu avec une proposition de nulle. D’autre part, arrêter la pendule ne signifie pas l’abandon, car un joueur au trait a toujours le droit d’arrêter la pendule pour solliciter l’aide de l’arbitre.
Adouber
ajuster une pièce sur sa case, on annonce « j’adoube » à l’adversaire afin de ne pas être obligé de jouer la pièce, suivant la règle de la pièce touchée.
Actif
se dit d’une pièce qui contrôle de nombreuses cases, ou des cases importantes.
Adjudication
prise de décision au sujet du résultat d’une partie qui n’a pas pu arriver à son terme. Très rare en pratique.
Aile dame (ou flanc dame)
désigne l’espace de l’échiquier du côté dame, à savoir les colonnes a, b, c et d.
Aile roi (ou flanc roi)
désigne l’espace de l’échiquier du côté roi, à savoir les colonnes e, f, g et h.
Ajournement
procédure d’interruption d’une partie qui doit être reprise ultérieurement. Aujourd’hui pratiquement obsolète en raison des nouvelles cadences de jeu en compétition, qui prévoient qu’une partie ne dure guère plus d’une demi-journée. Toutefois, une partie jouée avec une cadence à incrément peut dépasser le temps maximum que l’organisateur avait prévu ; il faut alors l’ajourner.
Tournoi d’échecs Amber
tournoi de haut niveau mêlant le jeu à l’aveugle et les parties rapides.
Analyse
évaluation objective des possibilités stratégiques et tactiques rencontrées dans une partie ou pour une position donnée.
Annotation
commentaire d’une partie faisant appel à du texte, des suites de coups, ou des symboles.
Appariement
l’appariement est le fait d’attribuer un adversaire à chaque joueur (ou chaque équipe) participant à un tournoi. cf. système suisse et table de Berger
Arbitre
personne désignée officiellement pour faire respecter les règles du jeu dans une compétition.
Attaque de minorité
avancée de pion sur un flanc où le joueur a moins de pions que son adversaire en vue d’affaiblir la chaîne de pions adverse.
A tempo
se dit d’un coup joué immédiatement après un coup adverse.
Attaque
un coup agressif contre le camp ennemi.
Jeu à l’aveugle ou Partie à l’aveugle
partie qui se déroule sans que les joueurs (ou un seul d’entre eux) ne voient l’échiquier.

B

Batterie
utilisation coordonnées de deux pièces. Certaines batteries sont réputées particulièrement efficaces, par exemple le duo dame et cavalier, qui combine la marche de toutes les pièces.
Bibliothèque d’ouvertures
base de données de parties utilisée par un programme d’échecs pour déterminer rapidement les meilleurs coups dans l’ ouverture
Blitz
jeu rapide à la pendule où chacun des joueurs dispose de moins de 15 minutes. Dans le cas d’une cadence à incrément, chaque joueur a moins de 15 minutes pour jouer 60 coups.
Blitz à quatre
variante du jeu d’échecs dans laquelle deux équipes de deux joueurs s’affrontent, et où les équipiers peuvent se transmettre des pièces capturées.
Blocus
action de placer un cavalier devant un pion adverse de façon à bloquer efficacement son avance.
Bon fou
fou mobile, qui est sur la couleur opposée de sa propre chaîne de pions.
Bye
dans un tournoi toutes rondes ou un système suisse dans lequel le nombre de joueurs est impair, désigne le joueur qui n’a pas d’adversaire (on parle aussi d’« exempt »). Le mot s’emploie aussi pour désigner une partie volontairement non jouée pour laquelle le participant reçoit tout de même un point ou un demi-point. Cette pratique n’est autorisée que par certaines fédérations nationales, surtout dans les pays anglo-saxons, et normalement dans les compétitions d’amateurs uniquement.

C

Cadence de jeu
système d’allocation et de contrôle du temps de réflexion de chacun des joueurs au cours de la partie, on distingue les cadences lentes des cadences rapides (tel que le blitz).
Cadence Bronstein
cadence dans laquelle le temps d’un joueur n’est décompté qu’après un délai fixe à chaque coup, inventée par le champion russe David Bronstein.
Cadence Fischer
cadence dans laquelle du temps est rajouté au crédit de chaque joueur après chaque coup (Voir pendule).
Caïssa
déesse mythique du jeu d’échecs.
Candidat
participant au tournoi des candidats ou au match des candidats, compétiteur qui arrive aux phases finales du championnat du monde.
Candidat maître
titre attribué par la Fédération internationale des échecs aux joueurs qui atteignent un classement Elo de 2200 et qui en font la demande.
Case-clé
case d’importance stratégique majeure dans une finale.
Case faible
case qui ne peut pas être défendue facilement contre une attaque adverse. Si la case ne peut pas être défendue par un pion, on parle aussi de trou. L’échange d’un fou peut rendre difficile la défense ultérieure des cases de la couleur de ce fou, aboutissant à une faiblesse des cases blanches (ou noires, selon le cas).
Cases blanches
les 32 cases de couleur claire.
Cases noires
les 32 cases de couleur sombre.
Catégorie d’un tournoi
nombre qui caractérise la force d’un tournoi de haut niveau en fonction du classement Elo moyen (varie de 1 à 21).
Cavalier
cavalier pièce du jeu qui a la particularité de pouvoir sauter au-dessus des autres pièces pour se déplacer.
Cavalier de la nuit
pièce des échecs féériques que l’on rencontre dans certaines variantes du jeu d’échecs, appelé aussi noctambule.
Centre
désigne habituellement les cases e4, e5, d4 et d5
Chaîne de pions
ensemble de pions qui se protègent les uns les autres.
Championnat du monde d’échecs
phase finale du tournoi ou du match qui va déterminer le nouveau champion du monde.
Chatrang
ancêtre du jeu d’échecs.
Chess960
autre nom des échecs aléatoires Fischer
Cheval
nom populaire donné au
cavalier.
Cinquante coups
règle qui stipule que, quand 50 coups (50 coups blancs et 50 coups noirs) se sont déroulés sans prise de pièce ni poussée de pion, un joueur peut réclamer la partie nulle.
Classement Elo
classement numérique des joueurs développé par Arpad Elo, varie de 1000 (débutant) à +2800 (champion du monde).
Clé
l’unique coup permettant de résoudre le problème dans le nombre de coups requis.
Clouage
action d’immobiliser une pièce adverse, car son déplacement deviendrait interdit (il mettrait son propre roi en échec), ou aboutirait à une perte de matériel,
Colonne
chacune des 8 lignes verticales, désignées par les lettre a à h.
Colonne ouverte
colonne où il n’y a pas de pion.
Colonne semi-ouverte
colonne où il n’y a pas de pion de sa propre couleur.
Combinaison
suite de coups qui limite les possibilités de l’adversaire, généralement en vue de réaliser un gain matériel.
Compensation
dans une situation de déséquilibre, un avantage positionnel qui compense un désavantage matériel.
Contre-jeu
jeu actif dont dispose le joueur dans une position inférieure.
Coup candidat
coup qui, après un examen rapide de la position, mérite une analyse plus approfondie.
Coup du berger
mat en quatre coups entre débutants.
Coup du texte
dans une analyse, désigne le coup réellement joué.
Coup légal
se dit de tous les coups permis par les règles du jeu dans une position déterminée.
Coup sous enveloppe
lors d’un ajournement, le coup du joueur au trait, non joué sur l’échiquier mais placé dans une enveloppe scellée qui sera ouverte à la reprise du jeu.
Coup théorique
coup d’ouverture généralement considéré comme un coup possible par des ouvrages de référence, comme l’Encyclopédie des ouverture d’échecs (ECO).
Cray Blitz
superordinateur Cray avec un logiciel développé par le Prof. Robert Hyatt.

D

Dame
dame la pièce à longue portée la plus mobile du jeu.
Début
voir ouverture.
Découverte
attaque où le déplacement d’une pièce permet à une autre pièce de menacer une pièce adverse.
Défense
ouverture choisie par les Noirs, ou coup qui pare une attaque.
Développement
action de déplacer une pièce de sa case initiale à une case où elle aura une influence sur le jeu.
Diagonale
ligne droite de cases de même couleur, se touchant par les angles.
Diagramme
illustration qui représente une position sur un échiquier.
Double ronde
ou tournoi à deux tours : système d’appariement dans un tournoi où tous les joueurs se rencontrent deux fois.
Drapeau
dispositif d’une pendule d’échecs qui indique que le temps imparti est dépassé.
Dual
dans un problème d’échecs, une autre variante de la solution. En général évitée par le compositeur.

E

Échec
action de menacer le roi.
Échec à la découverte
se dit quand le roi est exposé à une attaque d’une pièce qui n’est pas celle qui vient de jouer.
Échec double
se dit quand un roi est attaqué par deux pièces adverses, force un coup de roi.
Échec et mat
menace contre le roi telle qu’il n’est pas possible d’éviter la capture du roi au coup suivant. Met fin à la partie.
Échec perpétuel
situation dans laquelle un joueur peut donner une série illimitée d’échecs à son adversaire, sans que ce dernier ne puisse y échapper, considéré comme un cas de nulle.
Échecs aléatoires Fischer
variante du jeu d’échecs où la position initiale des pièces de la première rangée est déterminée aléatoirement au début de la partie.
Échecs Capablanca
variante du jeu d’échecs avec un échiquier plus grand et des pièces supplémentaires.
Échecs féeriques
variante du jeu d’échecs dans laquelle les règles traditionnelles ne sont pas respectées.
Échiquier
plateau carré de 64 cases sur lequel se joue une partie d’échecs. Sur l’échiquier : se dit des parties jouées dans les conditions de tournoi classique, par opposition au jeu par correspondance, au jeu en ligne ou à l’analyse.
ECO
Code de classification des ouvertures de l’Encyclopédie des ouvertures d’échecs.
École hypermoderne
courant de pensée élaboré au début du XXe siècle prônant un contrôle du centre à distance en vue de l’attaquer par les flancs plutôt que de l’occuper avec des pions.
Égalisation
fait d’avoir obtenu une position égale. Soit lorsque l’ avantage du trait initial des Blancs a disparu, soit lorsqu’un camp en infériorité a rétabli la situation.
Enfilade
coup qui attaque deux pièces alignées, de façon semblable à un clouage, sauf que la pièce ennemie de plus grande valeur fait l’objet de l’attaque directe. Après son déplacement, la pièce qui se trouve derrière elle peut être capturée.
En passant
règle qui permet à un pion d’en prendre un autre sur la case qu’il traverse lors de son premier coup.
Europe Échecs
magazine mensuel sur le jeu d’échecs en français.

F

Fédération internationale des échecs (FIDE)
organisation chargée d’organiser des compétitions mondiales, continentales et d’éditer le classement Elo des joueurs. Ses membres sont les fédérations nationales.
Feuille de partie ou de notation
document où les joueurs sont tenus de noter leurs coups dans un tournoi (à cadence lente).
Fianchetto
action de placer le fou en g2 ou b2 (g7 ou b7 pour les noirs) pour le placer sur une grande diagonale.
Finale
la phase de jeu qui suit le milieu de partie et se caractérise par le nombre réduit de pièces sur l’échiquier.
Fischer random chess
variante du jeu d’échecs, autre nom des échecs aléatoires Fischer
Forfait
se dit d’un joueur qui ne s’est pas présenté devant l’échiquier à temps pour la partie. Les forfaits ne sont pas comptabilisés pour le calcul du classement Elo.
Forteresse
disposition de pièces adoptée par un joueur dont la position est inférieure de façon à empêcher toute progression du camp adverse, et ainsi obtenir la nulle.
Fou
fou pièce à longue portée qui se déplace en diagonale.
Fourchette
menace simultanée de deux pièces adverses, en général à l’aide d’un cavalier cavalier ou d’un pion.
Fous de couleurs opposées
se dit d’une situation où les deux camps ont un fou qui évolue sur des cases de couleur différente. Aboutit à la nulle dans certaines finales.

G

Gaffe
grave erreur menant normalement à la perte de la partie.
Gain théorique
position de finale connue pour mener à la victoire avec le meilleur jeu.
Gambit
sacrifice d’un pion dans l’ ouverture en vue d’obtenir un avantage positionnel.
Grand maître international (GMI)
le plus haut titre décerné par la Fédération internationale des échecs aux joueurs.
Grande diagonale
diagonale a1-h8 ou h1-a8

H

I

Impératrice
pièce des échecs féériques que l’on rencontre dans certaines variantes du jeu d’échecs.
Informateur d’échecs (Šahovski Informator)
maison d’édition qui publie les parties de haut niveau depuis 1966 à raison de deux ou trois (depuis 1991) numéros par an.
Initiative
avantage d’un joueur qui porte les menaces que son adversaire doit parer.
Internet Chess Club ou ICC
serveur d’échecs en ligne commercial.
Interzonal
tournoi organisé autrefois par la Fédération internationale des échecs pour déterminer les participants aux tournois des candidats, dont le but est de déterminer le challenger du Champion du monde.
Isolani
désigne le pion dame isolé de certaines ouvertures.

J

Joueurs d’échecs célèbres
joueurs qui ont marqué leur époque par leur force ou leur créativité.

K

2 K
expression qui désigne Anatoli Karpov et Garry Kasparov, champions longtemps restés au sommet de la hiérarchie mondiale à partir des années 1980.
3 K
expression qui désigne Vladimir Kramnik, Anatoli Karpov et Garry Kasparov.

L

M

Maître FIDE (MF)
titre décerné par la Fédération internationale des échecs à tout joueur qui dépasse le classement Elo international de 2300 et qui en fait la demande.
Maître international (MI)
titre décerné par la Fédération internationale des échecs, situé entre maître FIDE et grand maître international.
Majorité
fait de disposer de plus de pions que l’adversaire sur un flanc.
Mat
diminutif d’échec et mat.
Matériel
ensemble des pions et pièces d’un joueur. On parle d’avantage matériel quand un joueur a une valeur globale des pièces supérieure à celle de l’adversaire. Un gain matériel est une augmentation de l’avantage matériel.
Matériel insuffisant ou mat impossible
cas de partie nulle où aucun des deux camps n’a suffisamment de pièces pour faire mat, ou encore si la position sur l’échiquier ne peut aboutir à aucun mat.
Mauvais fou
fou dont les mouvements sont entravés, qui est sur la même couleur que ses chaînes de pions
Mazette
joueur d’un niveau faible.
Milieu de partie
la phase de jeu située après l’ ouverture.
Miniature
partie de moins de 20 coups et qui se solde par une victoire d’un des deux camps.
Minorité
fait de disposer de moins de pions que l’adversaire sur un flanc.
Mobilité
capacité d’une pièce ou d’un ensemble de pièces de se déplacer sur l’échiquier, mesurée en général au nombre de cases accessibles par les pièces en question.
Mort subite
se dit d’une formule de départage final en tournoi consistant en une partie de blitz unique où les Blancs disposent d’une minute de temps de réflexion de plus que les Noirs et sont dans l’obligation de gagner.
Moulinet
manœuvre tactique basée sur l’échec à la découverte.

N

New in Chess
périodique international en anglais qui parait huit fois par an.
Noctambule
pièce des échecs féériques que l’on rencontre dans certaines variantes du jeu d’échecs, également appelé cavalier de la nuit.
Norme
résultat dans un tournoi qui permet à un joueur de progresser vers le titre de maître international ou de grand maître international.
Notation algébrique
se dit de la notation utilisée en tournoi (dans sa forme abrégée).
Notation descriptive
notation des coups utilisée dans les pays anglophones et hispanophones jusqu’aux années 1980, aujourd’hui remplacée par la notation algébrique.
Nouveauté théorique
coup d’ouverture intéressant et inédit à haut niveau de compétition.
Nulle
résultat d’une partie qui ne n’est pas terminée par la victoire des Blancs ou des Noirs.
Nulle de salon
nulle conclue rapidement par consentement mutuel des joueurs.
Nulle théorique
position de finale qui est connue pour n’aboutir qu’à la nulle avec le meilleur jeu.

O

O-O
notation du petit roque (parfois aussi noté OO, 0-0 ou 00).
O-O-O
notation du grand roque (parfois aussi noté OOO, 0-0-0 ou 000).
Olympiade
compétition mondiale par équipes nationales.
Open
tournoi ouvert à tous les joueurs.
Opposition
situation dans laquelle les deux rois se font face et sont séparés d’une case, s’empêchant mutuellement d’avancer.
Ouverture
première phase du jeu, durant laquelle chaque camp développe ses pièces.

P

Paire de fous
fait de disposer des deux fous contre une paire fou + cavalier ou contre deux cavaliers, ce qui est souvent considéré comme un avantage stratégique.
Partie en consultation
partie qui oppose plusieurs joueurs à un ou plusieurs adversaires sur un seul échiquier.
Partie à handicap
partie où le joueur le plus fort débute le jeu avec du matériel ou du temps de réflexion en moins.
Partie majoritaire
partie où un fort joueur affronte un groupe de joueurs qui décident à la majorité du coup à jouer.
Pat
situation dans laquelle un joueur qui n’est pas en échec n’a plus de coup légal, constitue un cas de partie nulle.
Pendule d’échecs
double horloge utilisée pour comptabiliser le temps de réflexion de chaque joueur.


Pendule d’échecs électronique

Percée
avance de pion ou échange de pièces qui aboutit à l’ouverture d’une position bloquée.
Performance Elo
estimation de la force d’un joueur dans un tournoi en fonction de la moyenne des classements des joueurs adverses et du résultat global réalisé contre eux.
pièce
roi, dame, tour, fou, cavalier, on considère souvent que le pion n’est pas une pièce.
Pièce légère
désigne le cavalier ou le fou.
Pièce lourde
désigne la tour ou la dame.
Pièce touchée, pièce jouée
expression qui signifie que toute pièce touchée doit être déplacée ou prise, et que toute pièce lâchée sur la case finale l’est irrévocablement.
Pion
Chess pawn icon.png pièce du jeu la plus fréquente et de moindre valeur. Le pion peut cependant être promu en une autre pièce (habituellement la dame) s’il atteint la dernière rangée.
Pion arriéré
pion qui n’a plus de vis-à-vis, qui est moins avancé que ceux des colonnes adjacentes et dont la case située devant lui est inoccupée et contrôlée par un pion adverse.
Pion avancé
pion qui a dépassé la moitié de l’échiquier. Il peut être faible s’il est difficile à défendre, ou fort s’il crée un avantage d’espace ou présente une menace de parvenir à la promotion.
Pions doublés
pions de la même couleur sur la même colonne.
Pions liés
pions qui sont côte à côte et se protègent l’un l’autre dans leur avancée.
Pion passé
pion qui n’est plus gêné dans son avance par des pions adverses sur la même colonne ou sur les colonnes adjacentes.
Pions pendants
pions centraux côte à côte sur la même rangée sans pion adverse sur leur colonne. Leur force réside dans leur contrôle des cases situées devant eux, leur faiblesse dans leur manque de mobilité.
Plan
objectif stratégique à long terme.
Portable Game Notation
une notation informatique standardisée des parties d’échecs.
Poussée
avancée d’un pion.
Pousseur de bois
expression désignant un joueur d’échecs en général ou en particulier un faible joueur, dans ce dernier cas l’expression a une nuance péjorative.
Programme d’échecs
programme informatique dédié au jeu d’échecs
Promotion
remplacement d’un pion arrivé en dernière rangée par une dame, une tour, un cavalier ou un fou de sa couleur. La promotion en une autre pièce que la dame est appelée sous-promotion.
Pseudo-sacrifice
se dit d’un sacrifice apparent mais qui ne peut pas être accepté par l’adversaire sous peine de perdre rapidement beaucoup de matériel ou de se faire mater. Par opposition au vrai sacrifice qui se traduit par des compensations stratégiques en échange du matériel concédé.

Q

Qualité
différence de valeur entre une tour et un cavalier ou un fou, généralement estimée à deux pions.

R

Rangée
une des huit lignes horizontales, désignées par un chiffre de 1 à 8.
Réfutation
coup qui est le résultat d’une analyse et qui démontre qu’un coup adverse précédent n’est pas correct.
Règles du jeu d’échecs
ensemble de règles appliquées en tournoi, tant au sujet des déplacement de pièces que du comportement des joueurs et de rôle de l’arbitre.
Reine
nom populaire de la dame.
Tripe répétition
situation où une position exactement identique sur l’échiquier s’est reproduite trois fois, et entraîne la partie nulle à la demande d’un des joueurs.
Roi
roi pièce la plus importante du jeu, sa capture signifie la défaite.
Roque
déplacement particulier du roi et de la tour en vue de sécuriser le roi.
Roque artificiel
manœuvres par lesquelles le roi se dirige vers le coin de l’échiquier, employées quand le roque n’est pas possible.
Round-robin
tournoi où tous les joueurs se rencontrent. Voir tournoi toutes rondes.

S

Sacrifice
action d’échanger des pièces pour des pièces de plus faible valeur, dans le but de récupérer du matériel rapidement, ou bien d’obtenir un avantage positionnel.
Sauterelle
pièce des échecs féeriques que l’on rencontre dans certaines variantes du jeu d’échecs.
Secondant
dans un match de haut niveau, joueur qui contribue aux analyses et à la préparation d’un des deux adversaires.
Simplification
échange de pièces qui réduit la complexité tactique, fait perdre de la force à une attaque ou permet le passage en finale.
Simultanée
rencontre dans laquelle un fort joueur affronte de nombreux adversaires, jouant un coup avant de passer à l’échiquier suivant.
Sous-promotion
voir promotion.
Spectateur
personne présente et qui n’est pas un des deux joueurs de la partie ni l’arbitre. Les spectateurs ne peuvent pas intervenir dans le jeu.
Stratégie échiquéenne
ensemble des considérations permettant d’obtenir un avantage à long terme.
Structure de pions
arrangement des pions les uns vis à vis des autres, et qui influence fortement la stratégie.
Swindle
manœuvres en vue de compliquer la position dans une partie où l’on a un désavantage.
Syndrome de Kotov
attitude décrite par Alexandre Kotov qui consiste à ne pas trouver de bon plan dans une position donnée, en dépit d’une longue réflexion, et ensuite, pressé par le temps, de jouer un coup faible qui n’a été analysé que superficiellement.
Système Hort
méthode habituelle de partage des prix en espèces entre les ex æquo d’un tournoi, due à Vlastimil Hort.
Système Buchholz
système de départage des joueurs ex æquo à l’issue d’un tournoi
Système suisse
système d’appariement habituel dans un tournoi ou le nombre de joueurs est nettement plus élevé que le nombre de rondes.

T

Table de Berger
table d’appariement standardisée dans un tournoi toutes rondes où tous les joueurs se rencontrent.
Tables de finales
désigne une base de données qui détermine le meilleur coup possible dans une position déterminée. Il existe actuellement des tables de finales jusqu’à 5 pièces et quelques unes de 6 pièces.
Tactique échiquéenne
suite de coups contraignante pour l’adversaire et qui vise à obtenir un gain, matériel ou positionnel.
Tempo (pluriel tempos ou tempi)
coup gagné ou perdu dans un développement ou une attaque.
Théorie Elo
Théorie mathématique développée par Arpad Elo en vue de classer les joueurs d’échecs.
Tour
tour pièce à longue portée qui se déplace verticalement ou horizontalement.
Tournoi
rencontre de plusieurs joueurs dans une compétition organisée.
Tournoi thématique
tournoi dans lequel le début est imposé.
Trait
le joueur qui a le trait ou est au trait est celui qui doit jouer le coup suivant.
Transposition
position identique obtenue après les mêmes coups joués dans un ordre différent.
Trou
case importante qu’il n’est pas possible de contrôler à l’aide d’un pion.

U

V

Variante
suite de coups alternative.
Variante du jeu d’échecs
jeu similaire aux échecs mais qui s’en distingue par des règles ou une position de départ différentes.

W

World Chess Council
organisation éphémère qui eut en charge l’organisation des championnat du monde classique en 1998.

X

Attaque Rayons X
attaque indirecte d’une pièce qui se trouve derrière une autre pièce directement menacée. Voir enfilade.
Xiangqi
autre nom des échecs chinois

Z

Zeitnot
manque de temps à l’approche du contrôle de temps.
Zugzwang
cas où l’obligation de jouer pénalise le joueur qui a le trait.
Zwischenzug
coup intermédiaire, qui pose une menace en réponse à une autre menace.

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Glossary of chess

A

Absolute pin

A pin against the king, called absolute because the pinned piece cannot legally move as it would expose the king to check. See relative pin.

Active

Describes a piece that is able to move or control many squares. See also passive.

Adjournment

Main article: Adjournment (games)

Envelope used for the adjournment of a match game Efim Geller vs. Bent Larsen, Copenhagen 1966

Suspension of a chess game with the intention to continue at a later occasion. Was once very common in high-level chess, often soon after the first time control, but the practice has been abandoned due to the advent of computer analysis. See Sealed move.

Adjudication

The process of a strong chess player deciding on the outcome of an unfinished game. This practice is now uncommon in over the board events, but does happen in online chess when one player refuses to continue after an adjournment.

Adjust or j’adoube

Main article: Touch-move rule
To adjust the position of a piece on its square without being required to move it. Adjustment can only be done when it is the player’s move and the adjustment is preceded by saying « I adjust » or « j’adoube ».

Advanced pawn

A pawn that is on the opponent’s side of the board (the fifth rank or higher). An advanced pawn may be weak if it is overextended, lacking support and difficult to defend, or strong if it cramps the enemy by limiting mobility. An advanced passed pawn that threatens to promote can be especially strong.

Alekhine’s gun

Main article: Alekhine’s gun
Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
8 a8 black king b8 black rook c8 black king d8 black king e8 black king f8 black king g8 black king h8 black king 8
7 a7 black pawn b7 black king c7 black rook d7 black queen e7 black knight f7 black king g7 black pawn h7 black king 7
6 a6 white pawn b6 black pawn c6 black knight d6 black king e6 black pawn f6 black king g6 black king h6 black pawn 6
5 a5 black king b5 white bishop c5 black king d5 black pawn e5 white pawn f5 black pawn g5 black king h5 black king 5
4 a4 black king b4 white pawn c4 black king d4 white pawn e4 black king f4 white pawn g4 black king h4 black king 4
3 a3 black king b3 black king c3 white rook d3 black king e3 black king f3 white knight g3 black king h3 black king 3
2 a2 black king b2 black king c2 white rook d2 black king e2 black king f2 black king g2 white pawn h2 white pawn 2
1 a1 black king b1 black king c1 white queen d1 black king e1 black king f1 black king g1 white king h1 black king 1
Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
Alekhine’s gun, as played in Alekhine-Nimzowitsch 1930

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[lang_en]

A formation in which a queen backs up two rooks on the same file.

Algebraic notation

Main article: algebraic chess notation
The standard way to record a chess game using alphanumeric coordinates for the squares.

Amateur

The distinction between professional and amateur is not very important in chess as amateurs may win prizes, accept appearance fees, and earn any title including World Champion. In the 19th century, « Amateur » was sometimes used in published game scores to conceal the name of the losing player in a Master vs. Amateur contest. It was thought to be impolite to use a player’s name without permission, and the professional did not want to risk losing a customer. See also NN or N.N.

Analysis

Study of a position to determine best play for both sides.

Annotation

Commentary on a game using a combination of written comments, chess symbols or notation.

Announced mate

A practice, common in the nineteenth century, where one player would announce a sequence of moves, believed by him to constitute best play by both sides, that led to a forced checkmate for the announcing player in a specified number of moves (for example, « mate in five »).

Antipositional

A move or a plan that is not in accordance with the principles of positional play. Antipositional is used to describe moves that are part of an incorrect plan rather than a mistake made when trying to follow a correct plan. Antipositional moves are often pawn moves; since pawns cannot move backwards to return to squares they have left, their advance often creates irreparable weaknesses.

Anti-Sicilian

An opening variation that White uses against the Sicilian Defense (1.e4 c5) other than the most common plan of 2.Nf3 followed by 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 (the Open Sicilian). Some Anti-Sicilians include the Alapin Variation (2.c3), Moscow Variation (2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+), Rossolimo Variation (2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5), Grand Prix Attack (2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 and now 5.Bc4 or 5.Bb5), Closed Sicilian (2.Nc3 followed by g3 and Bg2), Smith-Morra Gambit (2.d4 cxd4 3.c3), and Wing Gambit (2.b4).

Arbiter

See International Arbiter.

Armageddon

A game which White must win to win the match, but which Black only needs to draw to win the match. White has more time than Black: the discrepancy can vary, but in FIDE World Championships, White has six minutes, while Black only has five. Typically used in playoff tie-breakers where shorter blitz games have not resolved the tie.

Artificial castling

Main article: Artificial castling
Refers to a maneuver of several single moves by the king and a rook where they end up as if they had castled. Also known as « castling by hand ».

Attack

An assault, either short-term (e.g., after 1.e4 Nf6, Black is attacking White’s pawn on e4) or long-term, for example in the form of a sustained mating attack against the enemy king or a minority attack against the opponent’s queenside pawn structure. See defence.

Attraction

Where by a player (typically white) sacrifices minor or major pieces to expose the enemy king. For example, if the black king has castled and is on the g8-square, white may attempt to « attract » the king by using forcing moves such as Bxh7+, followed by Ng5+ etc.

Automaton

Main article: Automaton
A self-operating chess-playing machine. Popular attractions in the 18th and 19th centuries, most of these devices were hoaxes under the control of a human player. The most famous chess-playing automaton was The Turk.

B

B

Symbol used for the bishop when recording chess moves in English.

Back rank

A player’s first rank (the one on which the pieces stand in the initial array); White’s back rank is Black’s eighth rank and vice versa.

Back-rank mate

Main article: Back-rank checkmate
A checkmate delivered by a rook or queen along a back rank in which the mated king is unable to move up the board because the king is blocked by friendly pieces (usually pawns) on the second rank.

Back-rank weakness

A situation in which a player is under threat of a back-rank mate and having no time/option to create an escape for the king must constantly watch and defend against that threat, e.g. keeping a rook on the back rank.

Backward pawn

Main article: Backward pawn
A pawn that is behind the pawns of the same color on the adjacent files and that cannot be advanced with the support of another pawn.

Bad bishop

Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
8 a8 black king b8 black king c8 black king d8 black king e8 black king f8 black king g8 black king h8 black king 8
7 a7 black king b7 black king c7 black king d7 black king e7 black king f7 black pawn g7 black pawn h7 black king 7
6 a6 black king b6 black king c6 black king d6 black bishop e6 black pawn f6 black king g6 black king h6 black pawn 6
5 a5 black king b5 black pawn c5 black king d5 black pawn e5 black king f5 black king g5 black king h5 black king 5
4 a4 black king b4 white pawn c4 black king d4 white pawn e4 black king f4 black king g4 black king h4 black king 4
3 a3 black king b3 black king c3 white bishop d3 black king e3 white pawn f3 black king g3 black king h3 white pawn 3
2 a2 black king b2 black king c2 black king d2 black king e2 black king f2 white pawn g2 white pawn h2 black king 2
1 a1 black king b1 black king c1 black king d1 black king e1 black king f1 black king g1 black king h1 black king 1
Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
White has a bad bishop, Black has a good bishop ( Evans 1967:66).
A bishop which is hemmed in by the player’s own pawns.

Battery

Main article: Battery (chess)
An arrangement of two pieces in line with the enemy king on a rank, file, or diagonal so that if the middle piece moves a discovered check will be delivered. The term is also used in cases where moving the middle piece will uncover a threat along the opened line other than a check.

BCF

British Chess Federation, the former name of the English Chess Federation. See ECF.

BCM

An abbreviation for the British Chess Magazine.

BCO

An abbreviation sometimes used for the 1982 chess opening reference Batsford Chess Openings, by Raymond Keene and Garry Kasparov. The second edition (1989) is often called BCO-2. Cf. ECO and MCO.

Bind

A strong grip or stranglehold on a position that is difficult for the opponent to break. A bind is usually an advantage in space created by advanced pawns. The Maróczy Bind is a well-known example. See also Squeeze.

Bishop

Chess bishop icon.png see bishop

Bishops on opposite colors

A situation in which one side has only its light-squared bishop remaining while the other has only its dark-squared bishop remaining. In endgames, this often results in a draw if there are no other pieces (only pawns), even if one side has one or two pawns extra, since the bishops control different squares (see opposite-colored bishops endgame). In the middlegame, however, the presence of opposite-colored bishops imbalances the game and can lead to mating attacks, since each bishop attacks squares that cannot be covered by the other.

Bishop pair

In open positions, two bishops (on opposite colors) are considered to have an advantage over two knights or a knight and a bishop. (In closed positions knights may be more valuable than bishops.) The player with two bishops is said to have the bishop pair. Some evaluation systems count the bishop pair as worth half of a pawn, see chess piece relative value#Alternate valuations.

Bishop pawn

A pawn on the bishop’s file, i.e. the c-file or f-file.

Black

Main article: White and Black in chess
The designation for the player who moves second, even though the corresponding pieces, referred to as « the black pieces, » are sometimes actually some other (usually dark) color. Similarly, the dark-colored squares on the chessboard are often referred to as « the black squares » even though they often are not literally black. See also White, First-move advantage in chess.

Blindfold chess

Main article: Blindfold chess
A form of chess in which one or both players are not allowed to see the board.

Blitz chess

Main article: Fast chess
A fast form of chess (Blitz being German for lightning) with a very short time limit, usually 3 or 5 minutes per player for the entire game. With the advent of electronic chess clocks, it is often the case that the time remaining is incremented by 1 or 2 seconds per move.

Blockade

A strategic placement of a minor piece directly in front of an enemy pawn, where it restrains the pawn’s advance and gains shelter from attack. Blockading pieces are often overprotected.

Blunder

Main article: Blunder (chess)
A very bad move, an oversight (indicated by  » ?? » in notation).

Board

See chessboard.

Boden’s Mate

Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
8 a8 black king b8 black king c8 black king d8 black king e8 black rook f8 black king g8 black king h8 black rook 8
7 a7 black pawn b7 black pawn c7 black pawn d7 black king e7 black king f7 black king g7 black pawn h7 black pawn 7
6 a6 black king b6 black king c6 black knight d6 black king e6 black king f6 black king g6 black king h6 black king 6
5 a5 black king b5 black king c5 black king d5 white bishop e5 black king f5 black bishop g5 black king h5 black king 5
4 a4 black king b4 black king c4 black king d4 black king e4 black king f4 white pawn g4 black king h4 black king 4
3 a3 black bishop b3 black king c3 white pawn d3 black king e3 white bishop f3 white queen g3 black king h3 black king 3
2 a2 white pawn b2 black king c2 black king d2 white knight e2 black king f2 white pawn g2 black king h2 white pawn 2
1 a1 black king b1 black king c1 white king d1 white rook e1 black king f1 black king g1 black king h1 white rook 1
Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
Boden’s mate, from Schulder–Boden, London 1853
Boden’s Mate, named for Samuel Boden, is a checkmate pattern in chess in which the king, usually having castled queenside, is checkmated by two criss-crossing bishops. Immediately prior to delivering the mate, the winning side typically plays a queen sacrifice on c3 or c6 to set up the mating position.

Book draw

An endgame position known to be a draw with perfect play. The name reflects that traditionally the analysis has been found in the chess endgame literature, but in simplified positions (currently six pieces or fewer) computer analysis in an endgame tablebase can be used.

Book move

An opening move found in the standard reference books on opening theory. A game is said to be « in book » when both players are playing moves found in the opening references. A game is said to be « out of book » when the players have reached the end of the variations analyzed in the opening books or if one of the players deviates with a novelty (or a blunder).

Book win

An endgame position known to be a win with perfect play. The name reflects that traditionally the analysis has been found in the chess endgame literature, but in simplified positions (currently six pieces or fewer) computer analysis in an endgame tablebase can be used.

Break

A pawn advance or capture that opens a blocked position.

Breakthrough

Destruction of a seemingly strong defense, often by means of a sacrifice.

Brevity

(chiefly British) See Miniature.

Brilliancy

A spectacular and beautiful game of chess, generally featuring sacrificial attacks and unexpected moves. Brilliancies are not always required to feature sound play or the best moves by either side.

Brilliancy prize

A prize awarded at some tournaments for the best brilliancy played in the tournament.

Bronstein delay

A time control method with time delay, invented by David Bronstein. When it becomes a player’s turn to move, the clock waits for the delay period before starting to subtract from the player’s remaining time.

Bughouse chess

Main article: Bughouse chess
A chess variant played with teams of two or more.

Bullet chess

Main article: Bullet chess
A form of chess in which each side has 1 minute to make all their moves.

Bust

Colloquial term for a refutation of an opening, or of previously published analysis. A famous example is Bobby Fischer’s 1961 article « A Bust to the King’s Gambit » in which he wrote, « In my opinion, the King’s Gambit is busted. It loses by force. » American Chess Quarterly, Summer 1961 (Vol. 1, No. 1), at 3, 4.

Bye

Main article: Bye (sports)
A tournament round in which a player does not have a game, usually because there are an odd number of players. A bye is normally scored as a win (1 point), although in some tournaments a player is permitted to choose to take a bye (usually in the first or last round) and score it as a draw (½ point).

C

Caïssa

Main article: Caïssa
The goddess of chess, occasionally invoked to indicate luck or good fortune: « Caïssa was with me ».

Calculate

To carefully plan a series of moves while considering possible responses.

Candidate move

Main article: Candidate move
A move that seems good upon initial observation of the position, and that warrants further analysis.

Candidates Match

A knockout match in the Candidates Tournament.

Candidates Tournament

A tournament organised by the FIDE, the third and last qualifying cycle of the World Chess Championship. The participants are the top players of the interzonal tournament plus possibly other players selected on the basis of rating or performance in the previous candidates tournament. The top ranking player(s) qualify(ies) for the world championship.

Capped piece

A certain piece with which one player tries to deliver checkmate. When the capped piece is a pawn, it is called a pion coiffé (French for capped pawn). Playing with a capped piece is a handicap in chess.

Capture

Remove the opponent’s piece or pawn from the board by taking it with one’s own piece or pawn. Except in the case of an en passant capture, the capturing piece or pawn does so by occupying the same square that the captured piece or pawn occupied.

Castling

Main article: Castling
A special move involving both the king and one rook. Its purpose is generally to protect the king and develop the rook. Castling on the kingside is sometimes called castling short and castling on the queenside is called castling long; the difference is based on whether the rook moves a short distance (two squares) or a long distance (three squares).

Castling into it

A situation where one side castles in such a way that the king is in more danger at the destination than on the initial square, either immediately or because lines and diagonals can be more readily opened against it. Because beginners, in line with simplified traditional notions, often falsely assume castling to always improve protection of the king, pre-war grandmaster and leading figure of the hypermodern school Richard Reti therefore exhorted players to « castle because you must, not because you can ».

Casual game

See friendly game.

Category tournament

The category of a tournament is a measure of its strength based on the average FIDE rating of the participants. The category is calculated by rounding up the number (average rating – 2250)/25. So each category covers a 25 point rating range, starting with Category 1 which spans ratings between 2251 and 2275. A Category 18 tournament has an average rating between 2676 and 2700.

CC

An abbreviation sometimes used for correspondence chess.

Centralization

Main article: Chess strategy#Control of the center
Moving a piece or pieces toward the center of the board. In general, pieces are best placed in or near the center of the board because they control a large number of squares and are available for play on either flank as needed. Because of their limited mobility, knights in particular benefit from being centralized. There are several chess aphorisms referring to this principle: « A knight on the rim is dim » (or « grim » instead of « dim ») and « A knight on the side cannot abide. »

Centre/Center

Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
8 a8 black rook b8 black knight c8 black bishop d8 black queen e8 black king f8 black bishop g8 black knight h8 black rook 8
7 a7 black pawn b7 black pawn c7 black pawn d7 black pawn e7 black pawn f7 black pawn g7 black pawn h7 black pawn 7
6 a6 black king b6 black king c6 black king d6 black king e6 black king f6 black king g6 black king h6 black king 6
5 a5 black king b5 black king c5 black king d5 cross e5 cross f5 black king g5 black king h5 black king 5
4 a4 black king b4 black king c4 black king d4 cross e4 cross f4 black king g4 black king h4 black king 4
3 a3 black king b3 black king c3 black king d3 black king e3 black king f3 black king g3 black king h3 black king 3
2 a2 white pawn b2 white pawn c2 white pawn d2 white pawn e2 white pawn f2 white pawn g2 white pawn h2 white pawn 2
1 a1 white rook b1 white knight c1 white bishop d1 white queen e1 white king f1 white bishop g1 white knight h1 white rook 1
Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
Center squares are marked by « X »
The four squares in the middle of the board.

Central pawn

A pawn on the king’s file or queen’s file, i.e. on the d-file or e-file.

Cheapo

Slang for a primitive trap, often set in the hope of swindling a win or a draw from a lost position.

Check

Main article: Check (Chess)
An attack on the king. The attacked king is said to be in check.

Checkmate

Main article: Checkmate
A position in which a player’s king is in check and the player has no legal move (i.e cannot move out of check). A player whose king is checkmated loses the game.

Chess960

Main article: Chess960
A chess variant with a randomized positioning of non-pawn pieces to start the game.

Chessboard

Main article: Chessboard
This is the chequered board used in chess. It consists of 64 squares (eight rows and eight columns) arranged in two alternating colors (light and dark). Similar boards are also known as checkerboards.

A chess clock

Chess clock

Main article: Game clock
A device made up of two adjacent clocks and buttons, keeping track of the total time each player takes for their moves. Immediately after moving, the player hits his button, which simultaneously stops his clock and starts his opponent’s. The picture shown displays an analogue clock where the term ‘flag fall’ originates. Modern clocks are digital.

Classical

• An opening system geared towards forming a full pawn center. See also Hypermodern.
• A game using a longer time control such as 40/2; the opposite of fast chess categories such as rapid, blitz or bullet.

Clearance

Removal of pieces from a rank, file or diagonal so that a bishop, rook or queen is free to move along it. A related term is « clearing the diagonal »: removing pieces from a diagonal so that an enemy bishop, usually a fianchettoed bishop, has no targets to attack.

Clock move

A timed game is played clock move if a move is completed only when the clock has been pressed. It is therefore possible to touch one piece, but then decide to move another piece. This way of playing is common in casual games, in favour of touch move.

Closed game

  • A position with few open lines (files or diagonals), generally characterized by interlocking pawn chains, cramped positions with few opportunities to exchange, and extensive maneuvering behind lines. Such a position may later become an Open game. See also Positional play.
  • A chess opening that begins with the moves 1.d4 d5. See also Open game and Semi-open game.

Closed file

A file on which black and white both have a pawn.

Closed tournament

A tournament in which only invited or qualifying players may participate, as opposed to an open tournament. Also called an invitational tournament.

Coffeehouse

Adjective used to describe a move, player, or style of play characterized by risky, positionally dubious play that sets traps for the opponent. The name comes from the notion that one would expect to see such play in skittles games played in a coffeehouse or similar setting, particularly in games played for stakes and/or blitz chess. The Blackburne Shilling Gambit is a typical example of coffeehouse play.

Colour/Color

Main article: White and Black in chess
The white or black pieces. May also refer to a certain square, e.g. 1.e4 – White has played his/her pawn and is on the light-coloured square.

Combination

Main article: Combination (chess)
A clever sequence of moves, often involving a sacrifice, to gain the advantage. The moves of the other player are usually forced, i.e. a combination does not give the opponent too many possible lines of continuation.

Compensation

Main article: Compensation (chess)
An imbalanced equivalent return, for example sacrificing material for development or trading a bishop for three pawns.

Connected pawns

Main article: Connected pawns
Refers to two or more pawns of the same color on adjacent files. See also isolated pawns.

Connected passed pawns

Main article: Passed pawn
Passed pawns on adjacent files. These are considered to be unusually powerful (often worth a minor piece or rook if on the sixth rank or above and not properly blockaded) because they can advance together. Also see connected pawns.

Connected rooks

Two rooks of the same color on the same rank or file with no pawns or pieces between them. Connected rooks are usually desirable. Players often connect rooks on their own first rank or along an open file. cf. Doubled rooks.

Control of the centre/center

Main article: Chess strategy#Control of the center
Having one or more pieces that attack any of the four centre squares; an important strategy, and one of the main aims of openings.

Cook

An unintended solution of a chess problem. The term may also be used more generally to refer to a refutation to published analysis.

Correspondence chess

Main article: Correspondence chess
This is chess played at a long time control by various forms of long-distance correspondence, usually through a correspondence chess server, through email or by the postal system. Typically, one move is transmitted in every correspondence.

Corresponding squares

Main article: Corresponding squares
Squares of reciprocal (or mutual) Zugzwang often found in king and pawn endgames. Also known as related squares.

Counterattack

An attack that responds to an attack by the other player.

Countergambit

Main article: Gambit
A gambit offered by Black, for example the Greco Counter Gambit, usually called the Latvian Gambit today (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5?!); the Albin Countergambit (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5); and the Falkbeer Countergambit (1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5). An opening need not have « countergambit » in its name to be one; for instance, the Benko Gambit (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5), Englund Gambit (1.d4 e5?), the Budapest Gambit (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5), the Blackburne Shilling Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4?!) and many lines of the Two Knights Defense (e.g. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 and now 4…Bc5!? (the Wilkes-Barre Variation or Traxler Counter-Attack), 4…Nxe4?!, 4…d5 5.exd5 Na5 6.Bb5+ c6 (the main line), 4…d5 5.exd5 Nd4 (the Fritz Variation), and 4…d5 5.exd5 b5 (the Ulvestad Variation)) are all examples of countergambits.

Counterplay

Active maneuvering by the player in an inferior or defensive position.

Cover

To protect a piece or control a square. For example, to checkmate a king on the side of the board, the five squares adjacent to the king must all be covered.

Cramped

A position with limited mobility.

Critical position

A position that is of key importance in determining the soundness of an opening variation. If one side can demonstrate an advantage in a critical position, the other side must either find an improvement or else abandon that variation as inferior.

Critical square

See Key square

Cross-check

Main article: Cross-check
A cross-check is a check played in reply to a check, especially when the original check is blocked by a piece which itself either delivers check or reveals a discovered check from another piece.

Crosstable

An arrangement of the results of every game in a tournament in tabular form. The names of the players run down the left side of the table in numbered rows. The names may be listed in order of results, alphabetically, or in pairing order, but results order is most common. The columns are also numbered, each one corresponding to the player in the same numbered row. Each table cell records the outcome of the game between the players on the intersecting row and column, using 1 for a win, 0 for a loss, and ½ for a draw. (In a double round-robin tournament each cell contains two entries, as each pair of players plays two games alternating white and black.) Every game is recorded twice, once from the perspective of each player. The diagonal cells that correspond to the player playing himself are marked with a * or other symbol as they are not used. For examples see Hastings 1895 chess tournament, Nottingham 1936 chess tournament, and AVRO tournament.

D

Dark squares

The 32 dark-coloured squares on the chessboard, such as a1 and h8. A dark square is always located at a player’s left hand corner.

Dark-square bishop

One of the two bishops that moves on the dark squares, situated in c1 and f8 in the initial position.

Dead draw

A drawn position in which neither player has any realistic chance to win. A dead draw may refer to a position in which it is impossible for either player to win (such as insufficient material), or it may refer to a simple, lifeless position which would require a major blunder before either side would have a chance to win.

Decoy

Main article: Decoy (chess)
This is a chess tactic used to lure a piece to an unfavourable square.

Defence

(1) A move or plan which tries to meet the opponent’s attack; (2) an opening played by Black, for example the Scandinavian Defence, King’s Indian Defense, English Defense, etc.

Deflect

The inverse of a decoy (see above). Whereas a decoy involves luring an enemy piece to a bad square, a deflection involves luring an enemy piece away from a good square; typically, away from a square on which it defends another piece or threat. Deflection is thus closely related to overloading (see below).

Wouter Mees at the demonstration board

Demonstration board

A large standing chess board used to analyse a game or show a game in progress. Johann Löwenthal invented the demonstration board in 1857.

Descriptive notation

Main article: Descriptive chess notation
An old system of recording chess moves, used primarily in the English and Spanish speaking countries through the 1970s or 1980s. Now replaced by the standard algebraic notation.

Desperado

Main article: Desperado (chess)
  • A piece that seems determined to give itself up, typically either to bring about stalemate
  • A piece to sell itself as dearly as possible in a situation where both sides have hanging pieces.

Develop

In the opening, moving a piece from its original square to make it more active. To redevelop a piece means to move it to a better square after it has already been developed.

Diagonal

A line of squares of the same colour touching corner to corner, along which a queen or bishop can move.

Discovered attack

Main article: Discovered attack
An attack made by a queen, rook or bishop when another piece or pawn moves out of its way.

Discovered check

Main articles: Check (chess) and Discovered attack
A discovered attack to the king.

Domination

Main article: Domination (chess)
A situation whereby capture of a piece is unavoidable despite it having wide freedom of movement. Usually occurs in chess problems.

Double attack

Two attacks made with one move: these attacks may be made by the same piece (in which case it is a fork); or by different pieces (a situation which may arise via a discovered attack in which the moved piece also makes a threat). The attacks may directly threaten opposing pieces, or may be threats of another kind: for instance, to capture the queen and deliver checkmate.

Double check

Main article: Double check
A check delivered by two pieces at the same time. A double check necessarily involves a discovered check.

Doubled pawns

Main article: Doubled pawns
A pair of pawns of the same color on the same file.

Doubled rooks

Two of a player’s rooks placed on the same file or rank.

Draw

Main article: Draw (chess)
A game that ends without victory for either player. Most drawn games are draws by agreement. The other ways that a game can end in a draw are stalemate, threefold repetition, the fifty-move rule, and insufficient material. A position is said to be a draw (or a « drawn position » or « theoretical draw ») if either player can, through correct play, eventually force the game into a position where the game must end in a draw, regardless of the moves made by the other player. A draw is usually scored as ½ point, although in some matches only wins are counted and draws are ignored.

Drawing line

An opening variation that commonly ends in a draw, for example 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Nd4 5.Nxd4 exd4 6.e5 dxc3 7.exf6 Qxf6 8.dxc3 Qe5+ 9.Qe2 Qxe2+, a line in the Rubinstein Variation of the Four Knights Game. See chessgames.com. Often such a variation is played because one or both players are eager to draw the game.

Drawish

An adjective describing a position or game that is likely to end in a draw.

Drawing weapon

An opening line that a player plays with the intent of drawing the game. This may or may not be a line commonly thought of as a drawing line. In high-level chess and correspondence chess, a player well-versed in opening theory may even use as a drawing weapon a sharp opening that has been analyzed to a drawn position in a number of lines, such as the Marshall Attack in the Ruy Lopez, and the Sveshnikov and Poisoned Pawn variations of the Sicilian Defense. One example of the successful employment of a drawing weapon was the 2000 World Chess Championship match between Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik. In that match, Kramnik used the Berlin Defense to the Ruy Lopez as a drawing weapon with great effect. Kramnik drew all four games with that opening, drew all the rest of his games as Black, and won two games as White, with no losses.

Duffer

A weak chess player, also referred to as a « fish », « patzer » or « woodpusher. »

Dynamism

A style of play in which the activity of the pieces is favoured over more positional considerations, even to the point of accepting permanent structural or spatial weaknesses. Dynamism stemmed from the teachings of the ‘Hypermodern movement’ and challenged the dogma found in more classical teachings, such as those put forward by Wilhelm Steinitz and Siegbert Tarrasch.

E

ECF

Main article: English Chess Federation
The English Chess Federation (ECF) is the governing chess organisation in England and is one of the federations of the FIDE. It was known as the British Chess Federation (BCF) until 2005 when it was renamed.

ECO

The Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings, a standard and comprehensive chess opening reference. Also a classification system (ECO code) for chess openings that assigns an alphanumeric code from A00 to E99 to each opening.

Elo rating system

Main article: Elo rating system
The Elo rating system is a method for calculating the relative skill levels of chess players, named after the Hungarian Arpad Elo. Since 1970 FIDE publishes quarterly an international chess rating list using the Elo system.

En passant

Main article: En passant
(« in the act of passing »; derived from French) The rule that allows a pawn that has just advanced two squares to be captured by a pawn on the same rank and adjacent file. The pawn is therefore taken as if it had only moved one space. It is only possible to take en passant on the next move.

En prise

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8 a8 black rook b8 black knight c8 black bishop d8 black queen e8 black king f8 black bishop g8 black king h8 black rook 8
7 a7 black pawn b7 black pawn c7 black pawn d7 black pawn e7 black pawn f7 black pawn g7 black pawn h7 black pawn 7
6 a6 black king b6 black king c6 black king d6 black king e6 black king f6 black knight g6 black king h6 black king 6
5 a5 black king b5 black king c5 black king d5 black king e5 black king f5 black king g5 black king h5 black king 5
4 a4 black king b4 black king c4 black king d4 black king e4 white pawn f4 black king g4 black king h4 black king 4
3 a3 black king b3 black king c3 black king d3 black king e3 black king f3 white knight g3 black king h3 black king 3
2 a2 white pawn b2 white pawn c2 white pawn d2 white pawn e2 black king f2 white pawn g2 white pawn h2 white pawn 2
1 a1 white rook b1 white knight c1 white bishop d1 white queen e1 white king f1 white bishop g1 black king h1 white rook 1
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The pawn on e4 is en prise
(from French; « in danger », often italicized) En prise describes a piece or pawn exposed to a material winning capture by the opponent. This is either a hanging piece, an undefended pawn, a piece attacked by a less valuable attacker, or a piece or pawn defended insufficiently. For instance, after 1.e4 Nf6 2.Nf3? leaves White’s e-pawn en prise.

Endgame

Main article: Chess endgame
The stage of the game when there are few pieces left on the board. The endgame follows the middlegame.

Endgame tablebase

Main article: Endgame tablebase
A computerized database of endgames with up to seven pieces, providing perfect play for both players, and thus completely solving those endgames. (The six-piece endgames have been finished; some seven-piece endgames have been finished as of 2008.)

Epaulette mate

Main article: Epaulette mate
A checkmate position where the king is blocked on both sides by his own rooks.

Extended Position Description (EPD)

A Forsyth-Edwards Notation derivative format that contains the position on the chessboard, but not the game. It is primarily used to test chess engines.

Equalise/Equalize

To create a position where the players have equal chances of winning (referred to as « equality »). This may be either « static equality », where a draw is likely (for example, a balanced endgame) or even certain (for example, by perpetual check), or « dynamic equality », where White and Black have equal chances of winning the game. In opening theory, since White has the advantage of the first move, lines that equalize are relatively good for Black and bad for White.

Escape square

Main article: Flight square
A square to which a piece can move, which allows it to escape attack. See also flight square and luft.

Exchange

Main article: Exchange (chess)
  • The capture of a pair of pieces, one white and the other black, usually of the same type (i.e rook for rook, knight for knight etc.), or of bishop for knight (two pieces that are considered almost equal in value).
  • The exchange is used to refer to the advantage of a rook over a minor piece (knight or bishop). The player who captures a rook while losing a minor piece is said to have won the exchange, and the opponent is said to have lost the exchange. An exchange sacrifice is giving up a rook for a minor piece.

Exchange variation

Main article: Exchange variation
This is a type of opening in which there is an early, voluntary exchange of pawns or pieces.

Exhibition

A contest of one or more games played for the purpose of public entertainment, as opposed to a match or tournament. An exhibition may pit two masters against each other, in which case chess clocks are normally used and the contest is quite serious. A simultaneous exhibition (or display) has one or more masters play many celebrity or amateur opponents at once, and is often not timed.

Expanded centre

The central sixteen squares on the board.

F

Family fork, family check

A knight fork that attacks more than two opposing pieces at once.

Fast chess

Main article: Fast chess
A form of chess in which both sides are given less time to make their moves than under the normal tournament time controls. See also blitz chess.

FEN

Main article: Forsyth-Edwards Notation
Abbreviation for Forsyth-Edwards Notation, which is a standard notation for describing a particular board position of a chess game. The purpose of FEN notation is to provide all the necessary information to restart a game from a particular position.

Fianchetto

Main article: Fianchetto
Refers to a bishop developed to the second square and the longest diagonal on the file of the adjacent knight (that is, b2 or g2 for white, b7 or g7 for black), or the process of developing a bishop to such a square. It usually occurs after moving the pawn on that file ahead one square (or perhaps two). The Italian word is actually a noun (« in fianchetto ») and not a verb.

FIDE

Main article: FIDE
The World Chess Federation (Fédération Internationale des Échecs), the primary international chess organizing and governing body. The abbreviated name FIDE is nearly always used in place of the full name in French.

FIDE Master (FM)

Main article: FIDE Master
A chess title ranking below International Master.

Fifty-move rule

Main article: Fifty-move rule
A draw may be claimed if no capture or pawn move has occurred in the last fifty moves by either side.

File

A column of the chessboard. A specific file can be named either using its position in algebraic notation, a–h, or by using its position in descriptive notation. For example, the f-file or the king bishop file comprises the squares f1–f8 or KB1–KB8.

First board

See top board.

First-move advantage

Main article: First-move advantage in chess
The slight (by most accounts) advantage that White has by virtue of moving first.

Fischer delay

A time control method with time delay, invented by Robert Fischer. When it becomes a player’s turn to move, the delay is added to the player’s remaining time.

Fischer Random

Main article: Chess960
see Chess960

Fish

A weak chess player, also referred to as a « duffer », « patzer » or « woodpusher ».

Flag

Part of an analogue chess clock (usually red) which indicates when the minute hand passes the hour. To flag someone means winning the game on the basis of the opponent exceeding the time control.

Flank

The queenside a, b, and c-files, or the kingside f, g, and h-files, also called wing; distinguished from the center d and e-files.

Flank opening

Main article: Flank opening
This a chess opening played by White and typified by play on one or both flanks.

Flight square

Main article: Flight square
A square to which a piece can move, which allows it to escape attack. See also escape square and luft.

FM

Abbreviation for the FIDE Master title.

Focal point

The square upon which a player focuses an attack, e.g. by repeatedly attacking that square or sacrificing a piece there. For example, in an attack upon an uncastled king, Black’s f7 square (or White’s f2 square) is a common focal point. Examples of attacks on the focal point f7 include the Fried Liver Attack (initiated by a knight sacrifice on f7) and the primitive Scholar’s Mate (ending with checkmate on f7).
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8 a8 black rook b8 black knight c8 black bishop d8 black king e8 black king f8 black bishop g8 black knight h8 black rook 8
7 a7 black pawn b7 black pawn c7 black pawn d7 black pawn e7 black king f7 black pawn g7 black pawn h7 black pawn 7
6 a6 black king b6 black king c6 black king d6 black king e6 black king f6 black king g6 black king h6 black king 6
5 a5 black king b5 black king c5 black king d5 black king e5 black pawn f5 black king g5 black king h5 black king 5
4 a4 black king b4 black king c4 black king d4 black king e4 black king f4 black king g4 white pawn h4 black queen 4
3 a3 black king b3 black king c3 black king d3 black king e3 black king f3 white pawn g3 black king h3 black king 3
2 a2 white pawn b2 white pawn c2 white pawn d2 white pawn e2 white pawn f2 black king g2 black king h2 white pawn 2
1 a1 white rook b1 white knight c1 white bishop d1 white queen e1 white king f1 white bishop g1 white knight h1 white rook 1
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Fool’s Mate

Fool’s mate

Main article: Fool’s mate
The shortest possible chess game ending in mate: 1. f3 e5 2. g4 Qh4# (or minor variations on this).

Forced move

A move which is the only one which does not result in a serious disadvantage for the moving player. « Forced » can also be used to describe a sequence of moves for which the player has no viable alternative, e.g. « the forced win of a piece » or « a forced checkmate ». In these cases the player cannot avoid the loss of a piece or checkmate, respectively.

Forfeit

Refers to losing the game by absence or by exceeding the time control (forfeit on time).

Fork

Main article: Fork (chess)
When one piece, generally a knight or pawn, simultaneously attacks two (or more) of the opponent’s pieces, often specifically called a knight fork when the attacker is a knight. Some sources state that only a knight can give a fork and that the term double attack is correct when another piece is involved, but this is by no means a universal usage.

Fortress

Main article: Fortress (chess)
A fortress is a position that, if obtained by the weaker side, will prevent the opposing side from penetration, this generally resulting in a draw (which the weaker side is seeking).

Friendly game

A game that is not played as part of a match, tournament, or exhibition. Often the game is not timed, but if a chess clock is used rapid time-controls are common. The term refers only to the circumstances in which the game is played, not the relationship between the players or the intensity of the competition. Also called a casual game.

G

Gambit

Main article: Gambit
A sacrifice (usually of a pawn) used to gain an early advantage of space and /or time in the opening.

Gamescore

The record of a game in some form of notation. In over-the-board tournaments, the gamescore is recorded on a score sheet.

GM

abbreviation for Grandmaster.

Good bishop

A bishop which has high mobility, typically because the player’s pawns are on squares of color opposite to that of the bishop. (See #Bad bishop.)

Grandmaster

Main article: Grandmaster (chess)
The highest title a chess player can attain (besides World Champion). When used precisely, it is the title awarded by FIDE starting in 1950, but it can be used to describe someone of comparable ability. The term International Grandmaster or IGM would refer only to the FIDE title.

Grandmaster draw

Main article: draw by agreement#Grandmaster draw
A game in which the players quickly agree to a draw after making little or no effort to win. This may be a very boring game, e.g. 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.cxd5 cxd5 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Bf4 Bf5 7.e3 e6 Draw Agreed, or a superficially exciting game played with a variation the players know leads to a draw, e.g. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.0-0 Bg4 6.h3 h5 7.c3 Qd3 8.hxg4 hxg4 9.Nxe5 Bd6 (a pseudo-sacrifice of Black’s queen) 10.Nxd3 Bh2+ 11.Kh1 Bd6+ and Black draws by perpetual check. Although originally used to refer to such games between grandmasters, the term is now used colloquially to refer to any such game.

Greek gift sacrifice

Main article: Greek gift sacrifice
Also known as the classical bishop sacrifice, it is a typical sacrifice of a bishop by White playing Bxh7+ or Black playing Bxh2+ against a castled king to initiate a mating attack.

H

Half-open file

Main article: Half-open file
A file on which only one player has no pawns.

Handicap

Main article: Chess handicap
See Odds.

Hanging

Unprotected and exposed to capture. It is not the same as en prise since a piece en prise may be protected. To « hang a piece » is to lose it by failing to move or protect it.

Hanging pawns

Main article: Pawn structure#The Queen’s Gambit – Hanging Pawns
Two friendly pawns abreast without friendly pawns on adjacent files. Hanging pawns can be either a strength (usually because they can advance) or a weakness (because they cannot be defended by pawns) depending on circumstances.

Harrwitz bishops

A player’s light-squared and dark-squared bishops placed so that they occupy adjacent diagonals; named for the mid-19th century master Daniel Harrwitz. For example, White has Harrwitz bishops in the Danish Gambit after 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Bc4 cxb2 5.Bxb2. Harrwitz bishops can be a potent attacking force in the middlegame. Also called raking bishops.

Heavy piece

A queen or rook, also known as a major piece.

Hole

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8 a8 black king b8 black king c8 black king d8 black king e8 black king f8 black king g8 black king h8 black king 8
7 a7 black pawn b7 black king c7 black pawn d7 black king e7 black king f7 black king g7 black king h7 black king 7
6 a6 black circle b6 black pawn c6 black circle d6 black king e6 black king f6 black king g6 black king h6 black king 6
5 a5 black king b5 black king c5 black king d5 black king e5 black king f5 black king g5 black king h5 black king 5
4 a4 black king b4 black king c4 black king d4 white pawn e4 xw f4 white pawn g4 black king h4 black king 4
3 a3 black king b3 black king c3 white pawn d3 xw e3 white pawn f3 black king g3 black king h3 black king 3
2 a2 white pawn b2 white pawn c2 black king d2 black king e2 black king f2 black king g2 white pawn h2 white pawn 2
1 a1 black king b1 black king c1 black king d1 black king e1 black king f1 black king g1 white king h1 black king 1
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Dots indicate holes (Evans, 1967)
A square that a player does not, and cannot in future, control with a friendly pawn. The definition is somewhat subjective: the square must have some positional significance for the opponent to be considered a hole – squares on the first and second ranks are not holes. On the other hand a square is a hole even if it can be controlled in the future with a pawn that has made a capture. An example of the hole is the square e4 in the Stonewall Attack.

Hypermodern

Main article: Hypermodernism (chess)
An opening system geared towards controlling the center with distant pieces as opposed to occupying it with pawns. See also Classical.

I

ICCA

See ICCF.

ICCF

Main article: International Correspondence Chess Federation
The international Correspondence Chess Federation, founded in 1951 to replace the International Correspondence Chess Association (ICCA).

ICU

Irish Chess Union [1] publishes ICJ Irish Chess Journal

IGM

An abbreviation for the older term International Grandmaster. The modern usage is Grandmaster (GM).

Illegal move

A move that is not permitted by the rules of chess. An illegal move discovered during the course of a game is to be corrected.

Illegal position

  • A position in a game that is a consequence of an illegal move or an incorrect starting position.
  • In chess problems, an illegal position is one that is impossible to reach in a game by any sequence of legal moves.

IM

Abbreviation for the International Master title.

Inactive

See passive.

Increment

An increment refers to the amount of time added to each player’s time before each move. For instance rapid chess might be played with « 25 minutes plus 10 second per move increment », meaning that each player starts with 25 minutes on their clock, and this increments by 10 seconds after (or before) each move, usually using the Fischer Delay method. See Time control#Compensation (delay methods).

Indian bishop

A fianchettoed bishop, characteristic of the Indian defences, the King’s Indian and the Queen’s Indian.

Indian defence

Main article: Indian defence
A chess opening that begins 1.d4 Nf6. Originally used to describe queen’s pawn defences involving the fianchetto of one or both Black bishops, it is now used to describe all Black defences after 1.d4 Nf6 that do not transpose into the Queen’s Gambit.

Initiative

Main article: initiative (chess)
The advantage that a player who is making threats has over the player who must respond to them. The attacking player is said to « have the initiative ». s/he can often turn the play as s/he wills. The initiative often results from an advantage in time and/or space. The notion of the initiative was used by Steinitz (e.g. The Sixth American Chess Congress) and by Capablanca in his Chess Fundamentals (Chapter 4).

Insufficient material

An endgame scenario in which all pawns have been captured, and one side has only its king remaining while the other is down to just a king, a king plus one knight, a king plus one bishop, or indeed a king plus any number of bishops on the same colour as each other (up to nine), as is possible via underpromotion. A king and bishop versus a king and bishop with the bishops on the same color is also a draw. The position is a draw because it is impossible for the dominant side to deliver checkmate regardless of play. Situations where checkmate is possible only if the inferior side blunders are covered by the fifty-move rule. (See Draw (chess)#Draws in all games.)

Interference

Main article: Interference (chess)
This happens when the line between an attacked piece and its defender is interrupted by sacrificially interposing a piece.

Intermediate move

See zwischenzug.

International Arbiter

Main article: International Arbiter
A tournament official who arbitrates disputes and performs other duties such as keeping the score when players are under time pressure.

International Grandmaster (IGM)

The original name of the FIDE title now simply called Grandmaster (GM).

International Master (IM)

Main article: International Master
A chess title that ranks below Grandmaster but above FIDE Master.

Internet chess server

Main article: Internet chess server
This is an external server that provides the facility to play, discuss, and view chess over the internet, also abbreviated ICS.

Interpose

To move a piece between an attacking piece and its target, blocking the line of attack. Interposing a piece is one of the three possible responses to a check, the others being to move the king or capture the attacking piece.

Interzonal Tournament

Main article: Interzonal
A tournament organised by the FIDE, the second qualifying cycle of the World Chess Championship. The participants are selected from the top players of the zonal tournaments. The top ranking players qualify for the candidates tournament.

IQP

An abbreviation for Isolated Queen Pawn. See also isolani.

Irregular opening

Main article: Irregular chess opening
Irregular openings are chess openings with an unusual first move from White. These openings are all categorized under the ECO code A00.

Isolani

Main article: Pawn structure#The Queen’s Gambit – Isolani
refers to a d-Pawn with no Pawns of the same color on the adjacent c- and e-files, and is a synonym for ‘Isolated Queen’s Pawn’. The term was coined by Nimzovitch, who considered the isolani as a weapon of attack in the middle game but an endgame weakness; he considered the problem of hanging pawns to be related.

Isolated pawn

Main article: Isolated pawn
A pawn with no pawn of the same color on an adjacent file.

Italian bishop

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8 a8 black rook b8 black king c8 black bishop d8 black queen e8 black king f8 black king g8 black knight h8 black rook 8
7 a7 black pawn b7 black pawn c7 black pawn d7 black pawn e7 black king f7 black pawn g7 black pawn h7 black pawn 7
6 a6 black king b6 black king c6 black knight d6 black king e6 black king f6 black king g6 black king h6 black king 6
5 a5 black king b5 black king c5 black bishop d5 black king e5 black pawn f5 black king g5 black king h5 black king 5
4 a4 black king b4 black king c4 white bishop d4 black king e4 white pawn f4 black king g4 black king h4 black king 4
3 a3 black king b3 black king c3 black king d3 black king e3 black king f3 white knight g3 black king h3 black king 3
2 a2 white pawn b2 white pawn c2 white pawn d2 white pawn e2 black king f2 white pawn g2 white pawn h2 white pawn 2
1 a1 white rook b1 white knight c1 white bishop d1 white queen e1 white king f1 black king g1 black king h1 white rook 1
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Italian bishops in the Giuoco Piano
A White bishop developed to the c4 square or a Black bishop developed to c5. This development is characteristic of the Italian Game, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4, particularly the Giuoco Piano, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5, where both players have Italian bishops. Likewise, « Italian » may be used as an adjective denoting an opening where one or both players has an Italian bishop, such as after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bc4, the Italian Four Knights Game.

J

J’adoube

Main article: Touch-move rule
(from French) « I adjust ». A player says « J’adoube » as the international signal that he intends to adjust the position of a piece on the board without being subject to the touched piece rule.

K

K

Symbol used for the king when recording chess moves in English.

Keizer system

A pairing system where a players plays an opponent who is close in the ranking. Named after the Dutch inventor of the system, and useful when the number of participants exceeds the number of playing rounds.

Also see Swiss tournament and Round-robin tournament.

Key square

Main article: Key square
  1. An important square.
  2. (Pawn endings) A square whose occupation by one side’s king guarantees the achievement of a certain goal, such as the promotion of a pawn or the win of a pawn.

KGA

The King’s Gambit Accepted chess opening.

KGD

The King’s Gambit Declined chess opening.

KIA

the King’s Indian Attack chess opening.

Kibitz

As a spectator, making comments on a chess game that can be heard by the players. Kibitzing on a serious game while it is in progress (rather than during a post-mortem) is a serious breach of chess etiquette.

Kick

Attacking a piece, typically by a pawn, so that it will move.

KID

The King’s Indian Defence chess opening.

King

Chess king icon.png see king

King Bishop

The bishop that was on the king-side at the start of the game. The terms King Knight and King Rook are also used. Sometimes abbreviated KB, KN, and KR respectively.

King hunt

A sustained attack on the enemy king that results in the king being driven a far distance from its initial position, typically resulting in its checkmate. Some of the most famous games featuring king hunts are Edward Lasker-Thomas, Polugaevsky-Nezhmetdinov, and Kasparov-Topalov.

King pawn

A pawn on the king’s file, i.e. the e-file. Sometimes abbreviated KP. Also King Bishop Pawn (KBP), King Knight Pawn (KNP), and King Rook Pawn (KRP) for a pawn on the f, g, or h-file respectively.

Kingside

The side of the board where the kings are at the start of the game (the e through h files), as opposed to the queenside.

Knight

Chess knight icon.png see knight

Knight pawn

A pawn on the knight’s file, i.e. the b-file or g-file.

Knight’s tour

Main article: Knight’s tour
A mathematical treatment of a knight « touring » the board.

Knockout tournament

Main article: Single-elimination tournament
A tournament conducted as a series of matches in which the winner of each match advances to the next round and the loser is eliminated. Well known chess tournaments held in the knockout format include London 1851 and the 2007 Chess World Cup. Cf. #Round-robin tournament and Swiss tournament.

Kotov syndrome

Main article: Kotov syndrome
This phenomenon, first described by Alexander Kotov, can occur when a player does not find a good plan after thinking long and hard on a position. The player, under time pressure, then suddenly decides to make a move, often a terrible one which was not analysed properly.

Kt

The symbol sometimes used for the knight when recording chess moves in descriptive notation, mainly in older literature. An N is used instead in algebraic notation and in later descriptive notation to avoid confusion with K, the symbol for the king.

L

Laws of Chess

The rules of chess.

Lightning chess

A form of chess with an extremely short time limit, usually 1 or 2 minutes per player for the entire game.

Light squares

the 32 light-coloured squares on the chessboard, such as h1 and a8.

Light-square bishop

One of the two bishops moving on the light squares, situated on f1 or c8 in the initial position.

Line

  • A sequence of moves, usually in the opening or in analyzing a position.
  • An open path for a piece (queen, rook, or bishop) to move or control squares.

Liquidation

See simplification.

Long diagonal

One of the two diagonals with eight squares (a1-h8 or h1-a8).

Loss

A loss for one of the two players, which may occur due to that player being checkmated by the other player, resigning, exceeding the time control, or being forfeited by the tournament director. Chess being a zero-sum game, this results in a win for the other player, except in the very rare circumstance where the tournament director forfeits both players, for example for cheating or both players exceeding the time control (the latter does not normally result in a double forfeit today).

Lucena position

Main article: Lucena position
A well-known rook and pawn versus rook endgame position in which the player with the extra pawn can force a win.

Luft

Main article: Luft
(from the German for air) Space made for a castled king to give it a flight square to prevent a back rank mate. Usually luft is made by moving a pawn on the second rank in front of the king.

M

Main line

The principal, most important, or most often played variation of an opening or piece of analysis. For example, 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 is often referred to as the main line of the King’s Indian Defence.

Major piece

A queen or rook, also known as a heavy piece.

Majority

A larger numbers of pawns on one flank opposed by a smaller number of the opponent’s; often a player with a majority on one flank has a minority on the other.

Man

A piece or a pawn, when the term piece is used as exclusive of pawns. Note that the queen is also a man.
Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
8 a8 black rook b8 black king c8 black bishop d8 black queen e8 black king f8 black bishop g8 black knight h8 black rook 8
7 a7 black pawn b7 black pawn c7 black king d7 black pawn e7 black pawn f7 black pawn g7 black king h7 black pawn 7
6 a6 black king b6 black king c6 black knight d6 black king e6 black king f6 black king g6 black pawn h6 black king 6
5 a5 black king b5 black king c5 black king d5 black king e5 black king f5 black king g5 black king h5 black king 5
4 a4 black king b4 black king c4 white pawn d4 white knight e4 white pawn f4 black king g4 black king h4 black king 4
3 a3 black king b3 black king c3 black king d3 black king e3 black king f3 black king g3 black king h3 black king 3
2 a2 white pawn b2 white pawn c2 black king d2 black king e2 black king f2 white pawn g2 white pawn h2 white pawn 2
1 a1 white rook b1 white knight c1 white bishop d1 white queen e1 white king f1 white bishop g1 black king h1 white rook 1
Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
A typical Maróczy bind position

Maróczy Bind

Main article: Maróczy Bind
A bind on the light squares in the center, particularly d5, obtained by White by placing pawns on c4 and e4. Named for Géza Maróczy, it originally referred to formations arising in some variations of the Sicilian Defence, but the name is now also applied to similar setups in the English Opening and the Queen’s Indian Defence. It was once greatly feared by Black but means of countering it have been developed since the 1980s and earlier.

Match

A competition between two individuals or two teams. A match may be the entire competition, or it may be a round in a knockout tournament or team tournament. Unlike in some sports where the word match is sometimes used to describe a single game, a chess match always consists of at least two games (and often many more).

Mate

Short for checkmate.

Material

All of a player’s pieces and pawns on the board. The player with pieces and pawns of greater value is said to have a « material advantage ». When a player gains a material advantage they are also said to be « winning material ». (See Chess piece relative value.)

Mating attack

An attack aimed at checkmating the enemy king.

MCO

Modern Chess Openings, a popular chess opening reference. Often the edition is also given, as in MCO-14, the 14th edition. Cf. ECO.

Middlegame

Main article: Chess middlegame
The part of a chess game that follows the opening and comes before the endgame, beginning after the pieces are developed in the opening. This is usually roughly moves 20 through 40.

Miniature

A short game (usually no more than 20 to 25 moves), for example 1.e3 e5 2.Qf3 d5 3.Nc3 e4 4.Qf4?? Bd6! and White resigned in NN-Künzel because his queen is trapped. However, a significant minority of authors include games up to 30 moves. John Nunn, 101 Brilliant Chess Miniatures, Gambit Publications, 1999, p. 6. ISBN 1-901983-16-1. Usually only decisive games (not draws) are considered miniatures. Ideally, a miniature should not be spoiled by an obvious blunder by the losing side. A miniature may also qualify as a brilliancy. The Opera game is a famous example. Sometimes called a brevity (chiefly British).

Minor exchange

The exchange of a bishop for a knight.

Minor piece

A bishop or knight.

Minority attack

An advance of pawns on the side of the board where one has fewer pawns than the opponent, usually carried out to provoke a weakness.

Mobility

The ability of a piece, or of a player’s pieces collectively, to move around the board. (In computer chess this is often measured by the number of legal moves available.) Effectively means much the same as Space.

Mobile pawn center

Pawns on central squares able to advance without becoming weak.

Move

A full move is a turn by both players, white and black. A turn by either white or black is a half-move, or one ply.

Move order

The sequence of moves one chooses to play an opening or execute a plan. Different move orders often have different advantages and disadvantages. For example, 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 avoids the Budapest Gambit (2.c4 e5!?), but makes it impossible for White to play the Sämisch Variation (2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3) or Four Pawns Attack (5.f4) against the King’s Indian Defence, and to transpose to certain lines of the Nimzo-Indian Defence and Queen’s Gambit Declined, Exchange Variation where the knight goes to e2 instead of f3. (See transposition.)

Mysterious rook move

Following a Nimzovich’s idea, a move with a Rook that seems to have no threat or purpose, but which actually discourages the opponent from a certain type of action (prophylaxis), or sets up a very deep, well-concealed plan.

N

N

Symbol used for the knight when recording chess moves in English.

NCO

Abbreviation sometimes used for the chess opening reference Nunn’s Chess Openings. Cf. ECO and MCO.

NN or N.N.

Used in a game score in place of a player whose name is not known. The origin of this usage is uncertain. It may be an abbreviation of the Latin nomina (names), or it may be short for the Latin phrase nomen nescio, « names unknown » (literally « I do not know the name »). See also Amateur.

Norm

Main article: Grandmaster norm
A performance at a chess tournament that indicates a player is ready to receive a title, or the level of performance needed. In addition to other requirements, a certain number of norms is generally required to earn a title. See Grandmaster and International Master.

Novelty

A new move in the opening. Sometimes called a « theoretical novelty » or « TN. »

O

Odds

Main article: Chess handicap
This refers to the stronger player giving the weaker player some sort of advantage, such as in material, extra moves, time on the clock, or some combination thereof. Since the advent of the chess clock, time odds have become more common than material odds. The stronger player will begin the game with only one or two minutes on the clock, while the weaker player is given five or more minutes on the clock.

Offhand game

See skittles.

Olympiad

Main article: Chess Olympiad
An international team chess tournament organized biennially by FIDE. Each team represents a FIDE member country.

O-O

This term is a common abbreviation for kingside castling.

O-O-O

This term is a common abbreviation for queenside castling.

Open file

Main article: Open file
A file on which there are no pawns. A file on which only one player has no pawns is said to be half-open.

Open game

  • A game in which exchanges have opened files and diagonals, as opposed to a closed game.
  • A chess opening that begins with the moves 1.e4 e5 (which is also called a Double King Pawn opening). See also closed game and semi-open game.

Open tournament

A tournament where anyone can enter, regardless of rating or invitation. (Compare to closed tournament.)

Opening

Main article: Chess opening
The beginning moves of the game, roughly the first 10-20 moves. In the opening players set up their pawn structures, develop their pieces, and typically castle. The opening precedes the middlegame.

Opening preparation

Home study and analysis of openings and defenses that one expects to play, or meet, in later tournament or match games. In high-level play, an important part of this is the search for theoretical novelties that improve upon previous play or previously published analysis.

Opening repertoire

The set of openings played by a particular player. The breadth of different players’ repertoires varies from very narrow to very broad. For example, a player who always opens with 1.e4; always meets 1.e4 with the Sicilian Defence, and the Najdorf Variation of it if allowed; and always meets 1.d4, 1.c4, or 1.Nf3 with 1…f5, intending to play the Dutch Defence, has a very narrow opening repertoire. Bent Larsen, who opened at various times with 1.e4, 1.d4, 1.c4, 1.f4, 1.Nf3, 1.b3, and 1.g3, and played a large number of different defenses as Black, had a very broad opening repertoire.

Opening system

An opening, such as the Colle System or Hippopotamus Defence, that is defined by one player’s moves, which can be played regardless of the moves of the opponent.

Optimal play

Main article: Best response
Optimal play is when both sides make their best move at each turn, or one of equally good alternatives. One side tries to win as quickly as possible while the other side tries to delay it as long as possible, or optimal play may result in a draw.

Opposite color bishops

See Bishops on opposite colors.

Opposition

Main article: Opposition (chess)
A situation in which two kings stand on the same rank, file or diagonal with one empty square between them. The player to move may be forced to move the king to a less advantageous square. Opposition is a particularly important concept in endgames.

Outside passed pawn

Main article: Passed pawn#Outside passed pawn
A passed pawn that is near the edge of the board and far away from other pawns. In the endgame, such a pawn often constitutes a strong advantage for its owner.

Outpost

Main article: Outpost
An outpost is a square protected by a pawn that is in or near the enemy’s stronghold. Outposts are a favourable position from which to launch an attack, particularly using a knight.

Overextended

A position where a player has moved a piece or group of pieces (usually pawns) away from the rest in such a way that they are too difficult to defend.

Overloaded

Main article: Overloading (chess)
A piece that has too many defensive duties. An overloaded piece can sometimes be deflected, or required to abandon one of its defensive duties.

Overprotection

Overprotection in chess is the strategy of protecting a pawn or specific square of the chessboard more than is immediately necessary. This serves to dissuade the opponent from attacking that specific point and provides greater freedom of movement for the pieces protecting that square. This can cause an opponent to pursue a faulty plan or no plan at all. Aron Nimzowitsch was one of the foremost proponents of overprotection.

Over-the-board (OTB)

A game is said to be played over-the-board if opponents play the game face-to-face as opposed to online chess or correspondence chess.

Overworked

Another term for Overloaded.

P

Pairing

The assignment of opponents in a tournament. Pairing is made more difficult in chess because of the need to try to give each player an equal number of games playing white and black and to try to not assign a player the same color in too many consecutive games. The most common pairing methods used in chess tournaments are round-robin and the Swiss system.

Passive

A piece that is able to move to or control relatively few squares, also referred to as an inactive piece. See active.

Passive sacrifice

When a piece is sacrificed by moving a different piece, leaving the sacrificed piece under attack.

Passed pawn

Main article: Passed pawn
A pawn that has no pawn of the opposite color on its file or on any adjacent files on its way to queening.

Passer

A passed pawn.

Patzer

A weak chess player, also referred to as a « fish », « woodpusher », « duffer », or « bunny. » ( German: patzen, to bungle.)

Pawn

Chess pawn icon.png see pawn

Pawn and move

Main article: Chess handicap
A type of odds game, common in the 18th and 19th centuries, in which the superior player plays Black and begins the game with one of his pawns, usually the king bishop pawn, removed from the board.

Pawn centre

Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
8 a8 black rook b8 black knight c8 black bishop d8 black queen e8 black king f8 black rook g8 black king h8 black king 8
7 a7 black pawn b7 black pawn c7 black pawn d7 black king e7 black pawn f7 black pawn g7 black bishop h7 black pawn 7
6 a6 black king b6 black king c6 black king d6 black pawn e6 black king f6 black knight g6 black pawn h6 black king 6
5 a5 black king b5 black king c5 black king d5 black king e5 black king f5 black king g5 black king h5 black king 5
4 a4 black king b4 black king c4 white pawn d4 white pawn e4 white pawn f4 white pawn g4 black king h4 black king 4
3 a3 black king b3 black king c3 white knight d3 black king e3 black king f3 black king g3 black king h3 black king 3
2 a2 white pawn b2 white pawn c2 black king d2 black king e2 black king f2 black king g2 white pawn h2 white pawn 2
1 a1 white rook b1 black king c1 white bishop d1 white queen e1 white king f1 white bishop g1 white knight h1 white rook 1
Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
White has a large pawn centre
A player has a pawn centre when he has several pawns in the centre. By extension, pawns on the squares adjacent to the centre may also be considered as part of the pawn centre. Having an ample pawn centre as the one on the diagram at right was considered a huge advantage until the hypermodernist school nuanced this judgment. See King’s Indian Defence, Four Pawns Attack for an example of an opening leading to an extended pawn centre.

Pawn chain

Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
8 a8 black rook b8 black knight c8 black bishop d8 black queen e8 black king f8 black bishop g8 black knight h8 black rook 8
7 a7 black pawn b7 black pawn c7 black king d7 black king e7 black king f7 black pawn g7 black pawn h7 black pawn 7
6 a6 black king b6 black king c6 black king d6 black king e6 black pawn f6 black king g6 black king h6 black king 6
5 a5 black king b5 black king c5 black king d5 black pawn e5 white pawn f5 black king g5 black king h5 black king 5
4 a4 black king b4 black king c4 black pawn d4 white pawn e4 black king f4 black king g4 black king h4 black king 4
3 a3 black king b3 black king c3 white pawn d3 black king e3 black king f3 black king g3 black king h3 black king 3
2 a2 white pawn b2 white pawn c2 black king d2 black king e2 black king f2 white pawn g2 white pawn h2 white pawn 2
1 a1 white rook b1 white knight c1 white bishop d1 white queen e1 white king f1 white bishop g1 white knight h1 white rook 1
Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
Pawn chains in the French Defence
A locked diagonal formation of pawns, each one supported by a friendly pawn diagonally behind and blocked by an enemy pawn directly ahead. Nimzowitsch considered pawn chains extensively, and recommended attacking the enemy pawn chain at its base. See pawn structure.

Pawn island

A group of pawns of one color on consecutive files with no other pawns of the same color on any adjacent files. A pawn island consisting of one pawn is called an isolated pawn.

Pawn storm

Main article: Pawn storm
An attacking technique where a group of pawns on one wing is advanced to break up the defence.

Pawn structure

Main article: Pawn structure
The placement of the pawns is known as the pawn structure. As pawns are the least mobile of the pieces and the only pieces unable to move backwards, the position of the pawns greatly influences the character of the game.

PCA

Main article: Professional Chess Association
The Professional Chess Association (PCA) was a rival organisation to FIDE, the international chess organization. The PCA was created in 1993 by Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short for the marketing and organization of their chess world championship. The PCA lost its main sponsor, Intel, in 1996 and folded soon after.

Performance rating

A number reflecting the approximate rating level at which a player performed in a particular tournament or match. It is often calculated by adding together the player’s performances in each individual game, using the opponent’s rating for a draw, adding 400 points to the opponent’s rating for a win, and subtracting 400 points from the opponent’s rating for a loss, then dividing by the total number of games. For example, a player who beat a 2400-rated player, lost to a 2600, drew a 2500, and beat a 2300, would have a performance rating of 2550 (2800 + 2200 + 2500 + 2700, divided by four).

Perpetual check

Main article: Perpetual check
A draw forced by one player putting the opponent’s king in a potentially endless series of checks.

Philidor position

Main article: Philidor position
Usually refers to an important chess endgame which illustrates a drawing technique when the defender has a king and rook versus a king, rook, and pawn. It is also known as the third rank defence, because of the importance of the rook on the third rank cutting off the opposing king. It was analyzed by Philidor in 1777. (Also see rook and pawn versus rook endgame.)

Piece

Main article: Chess piece
This term can mean either any chess piece including pawns (as in the touched piece rule), or a minor piece (as in « I hung a piece »), depending on context. It can also mean a major or minor piece, as in « White needs to get some pieces to the kingside« .

Pin

Main article: Pin (chess)
When a piece can not move (either legally or advisedly) because doing so would expose a valuable piece, usually the king or queen, to attack. Pins against the king are called absolute because it is then illegal to move the pinned piece.

Plan

A strategy used by a chess player to make optimal use of his advantages in a specific position while minimizing the impact of his positional disadvantages.

Playable

Said of an opening or move that gives the person playing it a tenable position, e.g.  » Petroff’s Defense is playable. » or (after 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nxe4 4.Nxe4) « 4…d5 is the only playable move. »

Ply

Main article: Ply (chess)
Term mainly used in computer chess to denote one play of either white or black. Thus equal to half a move.
Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
8 a8 black rook b8 black knight c8 black bishop d8 black king e8 black king f8 black bishop g8 black king h8 black rook 8
7 a7 black king b7 black pawn c7 black king d7 black king e7 black king f7 black pawn g7 black pawn h7 black pawn 7
6 a6 black pawn b6 black king c6 black king d6 black pawn e6 black pawn f6 black knight g6 black king h6 black king 6
5 a5 black king b5 black king c5 black king d5 black king e5 black king f5 black king g5 white bishop h5 black king 5
4 a4 black king b4 black king c4 black king d4 white knight e4 white pawn f4 white pawn g4 black king h4 black king 4
3 a3 black king b3 black king c3 white knight d3 black king e3 black king f3 black king g3 black king h3 black king 3
2 a2 white pawn b2 black queen c2 white pawn d2 white queen e2 black king f2 black king g2 white pawn h2 white pawn 2
1 a1 white rook b1 black king c1 black king d1 black king e1 white king f1 white bishop g1 black king h1 white rook 1
Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
Black has accepted the « poisoned » b2-pawn with 8…Qxb2

Poisoned Pawn

Main article: Poisoned Pawn Variation
An unprotected pawn which, if captured, causes positional problems or material loss. It is also a variation of the Najdorf Variation of the Sicilian Defence, where some players call White’s pawn on b2 a poisoned pawn since it is dangerous for Black to capture it.

Portable Game Notation (PGN)

Main article: Portable Game Notation
This is a popular computer-processible ASCII format for recording chess games (both the moves and related data).

Positional play

Play dominated more by long-term maneuvering for advantage than by short-term attacks and threats, and requiring judgment more than extensive calculation of variations, as distinguished from tactics.

Positional player

A player who specializes in positional play, as distinguished from a tactician.

Post-mortem

Analysis of a game after it has concluded, typically conducted by one or both players and sometimes spectators (kibitzers) as well.

Prepared variation

A well-analyzed novelty in the opening which is not published but first used against an opponent in competitive play.

Promotion

Main article: Promotion (chess)
Advancing a pawn to the eighth rank, converting it to a queen, rook, bishop or knight. Promotion to a piece other than a queen is called underpromotion.

Prophylaxis

Main article: Prophylaxis (chess)
(adjectival form: prophylactic)

  • a move that frustrates an opponent’s plan or tactic;
  • a strategy in which a player frustrates tactics initiated by the opponent until a mistake is made.
Prophylactic techniques include the blockade, overprotection, and the mysterious rook move.

Protected passed pawn

Main article: Passed pawn
A passed pawn that is supported by another pawn.

Pseudo-sacrifice

See Sham sacrifice.

Push

To move a pawn forward.

Q

Q

Symbol used for the queen when recording chess moves in English.

QGA

The Queen’s Gambit Accepted chess opening.

QGD

The Queen’s Gambit Declined chess opening.

QID

The Queen’s Indian Defence chess opening.

Quad

A round-robin style tournament between four players, where each participant plays every other participant once.

Queen

Main article: Queen (chess)
Chess queen icon.png Also used as a verb for the act of promoting to a Queen, e.g. « … to queen the pawn ».

Queen Bishop

The bishop that was on the queenside at the start of the game. The terms Queen Knight and Queen Rook are also used. Sometimes abbreviated QB, QN, and QR respectively.

Queen pawn

A pawn on the queen’s file, i.e. the d-file. Sometimes abbreviated QP. Also Queen Rook Pawn (QRP), Queen Knight Pawn (QNP), and Queen Bishop Pawn (QBP) for pawns on the a, b, and c-files respectively.

Queenside

The side of the board where the queens are at the start of the game (the a through d files), as opposed to the kingside.

Queening

Promotion to a queen. Also called #Promotion. Rarely used to indicate promotion to a knight, rook, or bishop as well ( underpromotion).

Quickplay finish

Same as « Sudden Death ».

Quiet move

A move which does not attack or capture an enemy piece.

R

R

Symbol used for the rook when recording chess moves in English.

Raking bishops

Another term for Harrwitz bishops.
Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
8 a8 eight b8 black king c8 black king d8 black queen e8 black king f8 black king g8 black king h8 one 8
7 a7 seven b7 black king c7 black king d7 black pawn e7 black pawn f7 black king g7 black king h7 two 7
6 a6 six b6 black king c6 black king d6 black king e6 black king f6 black king g6 black king h6 three 6
5 a5 five b5 black king c5 black king d5 black king e5 black king f5 black king g5 black king h5 four 5
4 a4 four b4 black king c4 black king d4 black king e4 black king f4 black king g4 black king h4 five 4
3 a3 three b3 black king c3 black king d3 black king e3 black king f3 black king g3 black king h3 six 3
2 a2 two b2 black king c2 black king d2 white pawn e2 white pawn f2 black king g2 black king h2 seven 2
1 a1 one b1 black king c1 black king d1 white queen e1 white king f1 black king g1 black king h1 eight 1
Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
White ranks indicated at left (a-file). Black ranks indicated at right (h-file)

Rank

A row of the chessboard. Specific ranks are referred to by number, first rank, second rank, …, eighth rank. Unlike the case with files, rank names are always given from the point of view of each individual player, with the first rank being the home row of the king and other pieces. White’s first rank is Black’s eighth rank (row 1) and White’s eighth is Black’s first (row 8), White’s second rank is Black’s seventh rank (row 2) and White’s seventh is Black’s second (row 7), and so on.

Rapid chess

A form of chess with reduced time limit, usually 30 minutes per player.

Refute

Demonstrate that a strategy, move, or opening is not as good as previously thought (often, that it leads to a loss), or that previously published analysis is unsound. A refutation is sometimes colloquially referred to as a « bust ». A refutation in the context of chess problems or endgame studies is often called a « cook ».

Related squares

See corresponding squares.

Relative pin

A pin, where it is legal to move the pinned piece. See absolute pin.

Resign

To concede loss of the game. A resignation is usually indicated by stopping the clocks, and sometimes by offering a handshake or saying « I resign ». The traditional way to resign is by tipping over one’s king, but this is rarely done nowadays. [1] In published games, a player’s resignation is often indicated by « 1-0 » (Black resigns) or « 0-1 » (White resigns); these may also indicate that the game was decided for some other reason, usually one side exceeding the time control. In master and serious amateur play, it is much more common for a game to be resigned than for it to end with checkmate, because players can foresee checkmate well in advance. (See rules of chess#Resigning.) « A good player knows the right moment to resign. » – Proverb

Romantic chess

Main article: Romantic chess
Romantic chess was the style of chess prevalent in the 19th century. It is characterized by bold attacks and sacrifices.

Rook

Chess rook icon.png see rook

Rook lift

A maneuver that places a rook in front of its own pawns, often on the third or fourth rank. This can allow the rook to treat a half-open file as if it were an open file, or a closed file as if it were half-open.

Rook pawn

A pawn on the rook’s file, i.e. the a-file or h-file.

Round-robin tournament

Main article: Round-robin tournament
This is a tournament in which each participant plays every other participant an equal number of times. In a double round-robin tournament the participants play each other exactly twice, once with white and once with black. An example of the former is the Hastings 1895 chess tournament, an example of the latter is the Piatigorsky Cup. This type of tournament is commonly used if the number of participants is relatively small. See also Swiss system tournament.

Royal fork

A fork between king and queen.

S

S

Alternate notation for the knight piece. Used rather than the K, which is for King. From the German « Springer »

Sac

Short for sacrifice, usually used to describe a sacrifice for a mating attack.

Sacrifice

Main article: Sacrifice (chess)
When one player voluntarily gives up material in return for an advantage such as space, development, or an attack. A sacrifice in the opening is called a gambit.

Sans voir

(from the French) See Blindfold chess.

Scholar’s Mate

Main article: Scholar’s mate
A four-move checkmate (common among novices) in which White plays 1. e4, follows with Qh5 (or Qf3) and Bc4, and finishes with 4. Qxf7#.

Score

A record of the moves of a particular game, usually expressed in algebraic notation.

Score sheet

A score sheet

The sheet of paper used to record a game in process. During formal games, it is usual for both players to record the game using a score sheet.

Sealed move

Lengthy OTB games can be adjourned. To prevent unfair advantage, the players can agree on the next move being secretly recorded in a sealed envelope. Upon resumption, the arbiter makes the sealed move and the game continues. See also Adjournment.

Second

An assistant, often hired to help a player in preparation for and during a major match or tournament. The second assists the players in areas such as opening preparation. [2] The second also assisted with adjournment analysis, before the practice of adjournments was abandoned in the 1990s.

See-saw

See Windmill.

Semi-Open Game

Main article: Semi-Open Game
A chess opening that begins with White playing 1.e4 and Black replying with a move other than 1…e5. Also called Half-open or Asymmetrical King Pawn openings. See also open game and closed game.

Semi-Closed Game

Main article: Semi-Closed Game
A chess opening that begins with White playing 1.d4 and Black replying with a move other than 1…d5. See also open game and closed game.

Sham sacrifice

An offer of material which is made at no risk, as acceptance would lead to the gain of equal or greater material or checkmate. This is in contrast to a true sacrifice which the compensation is less tangible. Also called a pseudo-sacrifice.

Sharp

Risky, double-edged, highly tactical. Sharp can be used to describe moves, maneuvers, positions, and styles of play.

Simplification

A strategy of exchanging pieces of equal value. Simplification can be used defensively to reduce the size of an attacking force. It can also be used by a player with an advantage to amplify that advantage or reduce the opponent’s counterplay. Simplification is also used as an attempt to obtain a draw, or as an attempt to gain an advantage by players who are strong in endgame play with simplified positions. Also liquidation and trading.

Simultaneous chess

Main article: Simultaneous exhibition

A simultaneous exhibition

A form of chess in which one (usually expert) player plays against several (usually novice) players simultaneously. Is often an exhibition.

Skewer

Main article: Skewer (chess)
An attack to a valuable piece, compelling it to move to avoid capture and thus exposing a less valuable piece which can then be taken.

Skittles

A casual or « pick-up » game, usually played without a chess clock. At chess tournaments, a skittles room is where one goes to play for fun while waiting for the next formal game.

Smothered mate

Main article: Smothered mate
A checkmate delivered by a knight in which the mated king is unable to move owing to it being surrounded (or smothered) by its own pieces. This could occur, for example, after 1.e4 Nc6 2.Ne2 Ne5, and now either 3.c3?? Nd3# or 3.g3?? Nf3#.

Solid

An adjective used to describe a move, opening, or manner of play that is characterized by minimal risk-taking and emphasis on quiet positional play rather than wild tactics.

Sound

Correct. A sound sacrifice has sufficient compensation, a sound opening or variation has no known refutation, and a sound composition has no cooks.

Space

The squares controlled by a player. A player controlling more squares than the other is said to have a spatial advantage. Effectively means much the same as mobility.

Spanish bishop

A White king bishop developed to the b5 square. This is characteristic of the Ruy Lopez, also known as the Spanish Opening.

Spite check

A harmless check given by a player who is about to be checkmated that serves no purpose other than to momentarily delay the defeat.

Squeeze

  • Gradually increasing the pressure of a bind.
  • Sometimes a synonym for zugzwang that is not a mutual zugzwang.

Stalemate

Main article: Stalemate
A position in which the player whose turn it is to move has no legal move and his king is not in check. A stalemate results in an immediate draw.

Staunton chessmen

Main article: Staunton chess set

Staunton chessmen

The standard design of chess pieces, required for use in competition.

Stem game

A stem game is the chess game featuring the first use of a particular opening variation. Sometimes, the player or the venue of the stem game is then used to refer to that opening.

Strategy

Main article: Chess strategy
Evaluation of game positions and setting up goals and longer-term plans for future play, as opposed to a tactic which is a shorter-term plan typically consisting of a well-defined sequence of moves and their contingent moves from a given position in a game.

Sudden death

The most straightforward time control for a chess game: each player has a fixed amount of time available to make all moves.

Swindle

Main article: Swindle (chess)
A ruse by which a player in a losing position tricks his opponent, and thereby achieves a win or draw instead of the expected loss. It may also refer more generally to achieving a win or draw from a clearly losing position. See also cheapo.

Swiss tournament

Main article: Swiss tournament
This is a tournament that uses the Swiss system to determine player pairings. The basic idea is that every round each player is paired with an opponent with the same (or close to the same) score. The 33rd Chess Olympiad is an example of a Swiss tournament. See also Round-robin tournament.

T

Tabia or Tabiya

(from Arabic)

  1. The initial position of the pieces in Shatranj
  2. The final position of a well-known chess opening
  3. (from 2) The opening position from which two players familiar with each others’ tastes begin play.

Tablebase

See Endgame tablebase.

Tactician

A player who specializes in tactical play, as distinguished from a positional player.

Tactics

Main article: Chess tactics
Play characterized by short-term attacks and threats, often requiring extensive calculation by the players, as distinguished from positional play.

Takeback

Used in casual games when both players agree to undo one or more moves.

Tarrasch rule

Main article: Tarrasch rule
Named after Siegbert Tarrasch, this refers to the general principle that rooks usually should be placed behind passed pawns, either yours or your opponent’s.

TD

See Tournament director.

Tempo

Main article: Tempo (chess)
An extra move, an initiative at development. A player gains a tempo (usually in the opening) by making the opponent move the same piece twice or defend an enemy piece. In the endgame, one may wish to lose a tempo by triangulation to gain the opposition. (Plural: tempos or tempi).

Text move

This term is used in written analysis of chess games to refer to a move that has been played in the game as opposed to other possible moves. Text moves are usually in bold whereas analysis moves are not.

Theme tournament

A tournament in which every game must begin with a particular opening specified by the organizers, for example the Budapest Gambit (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5).

Theoretical Novelty (TN)

A new move in the opening. Also called simply a  » novelty« .

Threat

A plan or move that, if left unattended, would result in an immediate depreciation of the opponent’s position.

Threefold repetition

Main article: Threefold repetition
A draw may be claimed if the same position occurs three times with the same player to move, and with each player having the same set of legal moves each time (the latter includes the right to take en passant and the right to castle).

Tiebreaks

Main article: Tie-breaking in Swiss system tournaments
This refers to a number of different systems that are used to break ties, and thus designate a single winner, where multiple players or teams tie for the same place in a Swiss system chess tournament.

Time

Opportunities to make moves: similar meaning to tempo. A move that does not alter the position significantly is described as « wasting time », and forcing the other player to waste time is described as « gaining time ».

Time control

Main article: Time control
The allowed time to finish a game, usually measured by a chess clock. A time control can require either a certain number of moves be made per time period (e.g., 40 moves in 2½ hours) or it can limit the length of the entire game (e.g., 5 minutes per game for blitz). Hybrid schemes are used, and time delay controls have become popular since the widespread use of digital clocks.

Time delay

A time control which makes it possible for a player to avoid having an ever-decreasing amount of time remaining (as is the case with sudden death). The most important time delays in chess are Bronstein delay and Fischer delay.

Time pressure or time trouble

Having very little time on one’s clock (especially less than five minutes) to complete one’s remaining moves. See Time control.

Toilet move

Coined by Nigel Short, a quickly played move described as « any move which doesn’t immediately jeopardise your position » allowing the player time to visit the toilet while his opponent thinks.

Top board

In team chess, the player who is assigned to face the strongest opponents. Also called first board. Second board faces the next strongest players, followed by third board, and so on. Generally board assignments must be made before the competition begins and players may not switch boards, although reserve players are often allowed as substitutes.

Touched piece rule

Main article: Touch-move rule
The rule requiring a player who touches a piece that has at least one legal move to move that piece (and, if the player moves the piece to a particular square and takes his hand off it, to move it to that square). Castling must be initiated by moving the king first, so a player who touches his rook may be required to move it, without castling. The rule also requires a player who touches an opponent’s piece to capture it if possible. A player wishing to touch a piece to adjust its position on a square without being required to move it signals this intent by saying  » J’adoube » or « I adjust ». This way of playing is common in official games, in favour of clock move.

Tournament

Main article: Chess tournament
A competition involving more than two players or teams, generally played at a single venue (or series of venues) in a relatively short period of time. A tournament is divided into rounds, with each round consisting either of individual games or matches in the case of knockout tournaments and team tournaments. The assignment of opponents is called pairing, with the most popular systems being round-robin and Swiss. Tournaments are usually referred to by combining the city in which they were played with the year, as in  » London 1851« , although there are well known exceptions such as  » AVRO 1938″.

Tournament book

A book recording the scores of all the games in a tournament, usually with analysis of the best or most important games and some background on the event and its participants. One well-known example is Bronstein’s Zurich International Chess Tournament 1953. The less comprehensive tournament bulletin is usually issued between the rounds of a prestigious event, giving the players and world media an instant record of the games of the previous round. Individual copies may be bundled together at the conclusion of the event to provide an inexpensive alternative to the tournament book.

Tournament director (TD)

Organizer and arbiter of a tournament, responsible for enforcing the tournament rules and the Laws of Chess. Also tournament controller (chiefly British).

Transposition

Main article: Transposition (chess)
Arriving at a position using a different sequence of moves.

Trap

A move which may tempt the opponent to play a losing move. See also Swindle.

Trébuchet

A position of mutual zugzwang in which either player would lose if it is their turn to move.

Triangulation

Main article: Triangulation (chess)
A technique used in king and pawn endgames (less commonly seen with other pieces) to lose a tempo and gain the opposition.

U

Undermining

Main article: Undermining (chess)
This is a chess tactic (also known as removal of the guard) in which a defensive piece is captured, leaving one of the opponent’s pieces undefended or underdefended.

Underpromotion

Main article: Promotion (chess)
Promoting a pawn to a rook, bishop, or knight instead of a queen. Rarely seen unless the knight can deliver a crucial check, or when promotion to a rook or a bishop instead of a queen is necessary to avoid stalemate.

Unpinning

the act of breaking a pin. This allows the piece that was formerly pinned to move.

United States Chess Federation (USCF)

Main article: United States Chess Federation
This is a non-profit organization, the governing chess organization within the United States, and one of the federations of the FIDE.

Unorthodox opening

Main article: Unorthodox opening
See Irregular opening.

V

Vacating sacrifice

A sacrifice made for the purpose of clearing a square for a different piece of the same color.

Valve

A move which opens one line and closes another.

Variant

Main article: Chess variant
A chess-like game played using a different board, pieces, or rules than standard chess.

Variation

Main article: Variation (game tree)
A sequence of moves or alternative line of play, often applied to the opening. A variation does not have to have been played in a game, it may also be a possibility that occurs only in analysis. The word Variation is also used to name specific sequences of moves within an opening. For an example, the Dragon Variation is part of the Sicilian Defence.

W

Waiting move

A passive but harmless move, which is played while waiting for initiative from the opponent.

Weak square

A square that cannot be easily defended from attack by an opponent. Often a weak square is unable to be defended by pawns (a hole) and can be theoretically occupied by a piece. Exchange or loss of a bishop may make all squares of that bishop’s color weak resulting in a « weak square complex » on the light squares or the dark squares.

WFM

Abbreviation for the Woman FIDE Master title.

WGM

Abbreviation for the Woman Grandmaster title.

White

Main article: White and Black in chess
The designation for the player who moves first, even though the corresponding pieces, referred to as « the white pieces, » are sometimes actually some other (usually light) color. Similarly, the light-colored squares on the chessboard are often referred to as « the white squares » even though they often are not literally white. See also Black, First-move advantage in chess.

Wild

An extremely unclear or mind–bogglingly complicated position or move.

WIM

Abbreviation for the Woman International Master title.

Win

A victory for one of the two players in a game, which may occur due to checkmate, resignation by the other player, the other player exceeding the time control, or the other player being forfeited by the tournament director. Chess being a zero-sum game, this results in a loss for the other player.

Win/winning position

A position is said to be a win (or a winning position) if one specified side, with correct play, can eventually force a checkmate against any defence (i.e. perfect defence).

Windmill

Main article: Windmill (chess)
A combination in which two pieces work together to deliver an alternating series of checks and discovered checks in such a way that the opposing king is required to move on each turn. It is a potent technique since on every other move, the discovered check may allow the non-checking piece to capture an enemy piece without losing a tempo. The most famous example is Torre–Lasker, Moscow 1925. Also called a see-saw.

Wing

The queenside a, b, and c-files, or the kingside f, g, and h-files, also called flank.

Wing Gambit

Main article: Wing Gambit
Is the name given to variations of several openings in which one player gambits a wing pawn, usually the b pawn.

Winning percentage

A number calculated by taking the percentage of games won by a player plus half the percentage of drawn games. Thus, if out of 100 games a player wins 40, draws 32, and loses 28, her winning percentage is 40 plus half of 32, i.e. 56 percent.

Woman FIDE Master (WFM)

Main article: Woman FIDE Master
A women-only chess title ranking below Woman International Master.

Woman Grandmaster (WGM)

Main article: Woman Grandmaster
The highest ranking gender-restricted chess title except for Women’s World Champion.

Woman International Master (WIM)

Main article: Woman International Master
A women-only chess title ranking below Woman Grandmaster and above Woman FIDE Master.

Woodpusher

A weak chess player, also referred to as a « fish », « patzer » or « duffer ».

World Champion

A winner of the World Chess Championship.

Wrong-colored bishop

Main article: Wrong bishop
See Wrong rook pawn.

Wrong rook pawn

Main article: Wrong rook pawn
With a bishop, a rook pawn may be the wrong rook pawn, depending on whether or not the bishop controls its promotion square.

X

X-ray attack

Main article: X-ray (chess)
Also sometimes used in place of skewer.

Z

Zeitnot

(from the German) See Time pressure.

Zonal Tournaments

Tournaments organised by the FIDE, the first qualifying cycle of the World Chess Championship. Each zonal tournament features top players of a certain geographical zone. The winners are then qualified for the interzonal tournament.

Zugzwang

Main article: Zugzwang
(from the German) When a player is put at a disadvantage by having to make a move; where any legal move weakens the position. Zugzwang usually occurs in the endgame, and rarely in the middlegame.

Zwischenschach

(from the German) A zwischenzug that is a check.

Zwischenzug

Main article: Zwischenzug
(from the German) An « in-between » move played before the expected reply.

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