Common Chess Terms
You'll Need To Know...

Below is a list containing lots of chess-related terms.

'Blunder' : To totally miss something which is obvious, so that the opponent will now benefit.

'Patzer' : A player who can not improve his play, though he is playing for years. A patzer is blundering all the time.

'Trap' : A move that is trying to induce a mistake.

'Opening' : the first 10-15 moves of the game. It is the first phase of the game.

'Endgame', 'Ending' : The last of the three phases of the game, when only a few pieces are left on the board.

'Middlegame' : The second phase of the game. Most of the action is taking place in the middlegame.

'File' : a column in the chessboard.

'Rank' : a row in the chessboard.

'Wing', 'Side' : The board can be divided into two halves : the queen's wing or queenside (including files a-d) and the king's wing or kingside (including files e-h).

'Light piece' : A bishop or a knight.

'Heavy piece' : A queen or a rook.

'Light-squared bishop' : A bishop, either white or black, that moves on the white squares.

'Dark-squared bishop' : A bishop, either white or black, that moves on the black squares.

'Check' : To threat the opponent's king.

'Checkmate', 'Mate' : To threat the opponent's king, so that it he has no escape.

'Stalemate' : A player is stalemated if he has no valid moves at his disposal, but he also is not in check. The game is drawn in this case.

'Material' : One or more pieces, not including the king.

'Development' : The procedure of moving the pieces from their initial positions into more active squares. It is very important to develop one's pieces in the opening.

'Tempo' : The time to play a move. To 'win a tempo' means to proceed in such a way, that it is as if one was making two moves instead of one. 

This may happen, for example, when threatening the enemy Queen, whilst proceeding in development; the opponent will have to move the Queen and delay his own development by one tempo.

'Threat' : A move that practically forces the opponent to defend against, or he will lose something.

'Pin' : to make a move that prevents an enemy piece from moving, or if it does, another enemy piece behind it (lying in the same rank, file or diagonal) can be captured. 

The pin is an 'absolute pin' if the second piece is the King; in this case the pinned piece can not move at all.

'Exchange' : To capture an enemy piece and let the opponent capture a piece of the same value.

'Simplification' : One or more exchanges lead to simplification of the position.

'Sacrifice': A purposed loss of material in order to bring in (usually after a combination) a bigger advantage.

'Gambit' : A pawn sacrifice in order to achieve something, usually a valuable tempo or the opening of files, diagonals etc.

'Variation' : A possible sequence of moves that arises from a position.

'Combination' : A sequence of moves that results in an advantage, either material or positional.

'Plan' : The result of a mental process concerning how one should proceed in a position. It consists of moves sequences, intended piece locations and other observations. A plan often uses general concepts.

'Strategy' : The methods one player is using in order to accomplish a plan. Must be based on the strategic factors that are present.

'Tactics' : When several captures, threats, pawn thrusts etc. may take place, a position is said to have tactical possibilities. To play correctly, the players need to examine the tactics (calculate or 'count' the variations).

'Positional' : Anything relevant to the pieces positioning and to how it affects the evaluation of a certain position.

'Manoevre' : A sequence of moves that places a piece on a target square.

'Analysis' : A complete examination of tactical and positional possibilities, usually containing explanatory comments.

'Pawn majority' : To have more pawns than the opponent has in a wing.

'Blocked pawn' : A pawn that can not advance because an enemy pawn blocks its way.

'Free pawn' : A pawn that may advance easily, for there are no enemy pawns in front of it on its own file or on the close files.

'Isolated pawn' : A pawn is isolated, when no pawns of the same colour exist in the close files.

'Backward pawn' : A pawn that is weakened, because it has not advanced as much as the pawns on the close files.

'Doubled pawns' : Two or more pawns of the same colour residing on the same file.

'Center pawns' : The pawns d2,e2 and d7,e7 in the initial position.

'Compensation' : A positional returning to compensate for the material loss.

'Initiative' : The privilege to be a little more active than the opponent. It is considered to be a slight advantage, but if not exploited it may vanish.

'Opposition' : In an endgame a player has the opposition if his King is placed opposite to the enemy King in the same file, rank (or diagonal, in the case of the
diagonal opposition) with 1, 3 or 5 squares in-between. The opposition is of significance importance is certain endings.

'Forced move' : A move that one is obliged to make, because it is the only valid move in the position. Sometimes used to describe a move that if one does not make he will lose for sure.

'Zugzwang' : A move that leads to defeat and is such that, if one could avoid making (say if he could 'pass'), he would not lose.

'Waiting move' : A move that leads to zugzwang.

'Staunton' : Past World Class player. A particular set of pieces is named after him.

'Time-trouble' : The situation where a player must make a number of moves in a short time.

'Practical chess' : Chess played at tournaments mainly. In practical chess a player needs not only care about the best move he can find, but also about time issues, psychology etc.

To read lots more about chess and how to play well, you can return to the Chess Homepage, by clicking here

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