Chess Terms Chess Glossary
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Table of Contents

Chess terms and their definitions

Chess is a game that has a vast terminology and “special words” if we could call it that. Every game, culture, or community has its own terms to define the things that form part of its theme.

A whole topic that can be defined with words from something like a special language. At the same time, knowing these words will tell the people around you that you know what you are talking about.

Using the language will make you feel part of the community. It also will improve your communication with people who have the same interests as you.

Here is a list of the most commonly used chess terms, a chess glossary, and words that you should definitely know if you are a chess player.

Some words actually may be part of our normal vocabulary, but that has a different meaning in chess following the chess glossary:

Abandonment

Is the word we use to say that a player yields because the position is lost from his point of view.

Amateur

Is the word we use to describe players who practice chess regularly but don’t make any income from it. An amateur player may actually have a pretty good level, despite chess is not his work.

Analysis

In chess means several moves are calculated precisely to give judgment to the position. Analysis in chess involves a lot of things, but this term is normally used for positional and strategical analysis. However, it can also mean analysis for tactical possibilities.

Annotation

It’s a chess term to name certain commentary or words in the middle of the chess analysis. Used to clarify ideas about the game or explaining the purpose of a move. You usually find them on chess books and PGN files.

Alekhine’s gun

That’s the name given to the “battery” of two rooks and the queen attacking the same file. This is often used to put pressure on a pawn or a weakness and is highly advantageous.

Opening

It’s a compound of moves that the player makes at the very beginning of the game. The opening is normally based on theory books or analysis that shows these first moves will grant an advantage to the other player.

Middle-game

This is the chess term we use for the phase after the opening after the opening starts the middle-game. That’s why every chess player in the world use this chess term

Blockade

The chess glossary defines it as when a piece is placed in front of a passed pawn, which prevents it from pushing forward. A blockade is an effective way to stop the pawn structure to change and keep the game in a static model.

Endgame

It’s the final phase of the game after the middle-game, the last moves of the game which also tend to be theoretical. Endgames are an essential part of the study of chess players, ruled by concepts and rules different from regular chess.

Boden’s checkmate

It’s the name given to a certain mating position, in which the king is trapped by two crossed bishops. This is a pretty popular

Attack

That’s when a chess player talks about attack don’t panic, he surely refers to attacking in chess, not you. This is the term we use for a series of movements that are played to force checkmate on the enemy king.

Anti-positional

An “anti-positional move does not accomplish or goes against, positional principles of the game. An anti-positional move can also be understood as a positional mistake.

Defense

Defined by the chess glossary, consists of the movements done to avoid the enemy from checkmating our king or causing material losses.

Blitzkrieg

This is how most of the players know a fast attack on the f7 square, (f2 for black). This kind of attack is usually made by a bishop and a knight, for example, in the fegatello attack.

Check

It’s the word used to describe the situation in which the king is being threatened by an enemy piece. Check is a forceful move because it reduces the opponent’s option of playing to stopping the enemy threat

Anti-Sicilian

It’s the name given to certain variations of the opening that try to avoid typical lines of the open Sicilian defense. Some of these variations are the rossolimo variation, Alapin opening, and the smith-morra gambit.

Mate

It’s a chess term used to shorten the word checkmate, when a player uses “mate” it should be understood as “checkmate”.

Mating Net

When a king is in a dangerous situation in which a checkmate cannot be avoided in the following moves these terms come into play. The king is in a mating net when checkmate can’t be avoided, you want to put the enemy king in a mating net.

Armaggedon game

Appears in the chess glossary as a game in which results can’t be changed because a draw would mean a victory for black or white. This is often seen in many chess games that have not been decided yet.

Open file

Refers to a chess file with no pawns to block it, meaning it can be used for initiative or the rooks. The open file in chess represents an advantage, so players always must take over the open file.

Attraction

This is a tactical motive in which you sacrifice a piece to attract a certain piece, usually the king, to a certain square. This can be seen in the typical chess sacrifices like Nxg7 or Bxh7.

Arabian mate

Appears in the chess glossary as a mating figure that appears when the rook and the knight coordinate themselves against the enemy king.

Open game

It’s how we call the games in which pawns are not fully blockaded, meaning they can move and can take each other. Open games are the games in which you can usually move a lot of pawns.

Closed game

Is the contrary to an open game, the game is closed when the pawns are all in front of each other and can’t move further

King/queenside chess term

They are two chess terms used to define the sides of the board. The kingside is the part of the board between the “e” and “h” files of the board, while the queenside goes from the “a” file to the “d”.

Stalemate

When the king is not on check, but it there is no legal move for it either, so it’s not checkmate is stalemate. The difference is that checkmate always means one player wins, while stalemate means to draw.

Artificial castling

It is the manual castling of the king, moving the king to the same position as if he had castled, without following the normal move. It’s commonly used when the right to castle has been lost for the movement of the king or rook.

Back rank

This is in the chess glossary as your opponent’s first rank, for you, it would be the back rank, and vice versa, for your opponent, your first rank is his back rank.

Back rank weakness

The back rank weakness is known as a weakness that involves the king trapped by his own pawns. This means that if a rook or queen reaches the back rank the king will be instantly checkmated.

Battery

By chess glossary is a specific formation of pieces in which a bishop is in front of the queen. This is done to create threats, normally against the enemy king.

Bishop pair

It’s when a player still has both bishops on the board, meaning he can control both square colors with the vision. Having a pair of bishops represents an advantage.

Weak square

It’s a chess term referred to a square that can no longer be defended by a pawn, either because there are no pawns or have already advanced. Weak squares are pretty important in chess so this is a pretty used chess term.

Isolated pawn

That’s how we call the pawns that can easily be captured at any time of the game. The isolated pawns are weak because they don’t have any other pawns to protect them from behind.

blindfold chess

The chess glossary defines this chess term as the game of chess that is played using a fold, or something to not see the board. The players must visualize all that happens on the board.

Pin

It’s how we call it when a piece cannot move because its movement would leave another piece hanging. “The rook is pinned” means you can’t move the rook.

Absolute pin

It’s the same as the previously explained chess term “pin”. However, an absolute pin is against the king, which means that literally moving the piece is an illegal move.

Active play/active

Chess glossary says a player is “active” when he has a lot of chances to attack, or his position has good piece activity.

blind pigs

it’s the name given to advantage in chess, the “blind pigs” are two rooks that are in your opponent’s second rank, so they take all of the pieces. Two rooks on the second rank in the endgame are almost unstoppable, they “eat all of the pieces” as a blind pig.

Touch-move rule

This is the ethical rule of chess which orders that once you touch a piece you are obliged to move it in the next move. Sometimes this rule is overlooked in non-competitive games, but in chess tournaments, this rule applies.

Bind or squeeze

It’s a position in which a player has a strong grip over the positional advantage, to the point that is difficult for his opponent to find moves. The bind is also known as a positional stroke because it practically doesn’t allow your opponent to play.

Adjust

It’s what we say when we are simply accommodating a chess piece and we do not intend to move it. When you say “adjust” the touch-move rule doesn’t apply, although you shouldn’t do it too much.

Advanced pawn

It’s how you call a pawn that is advanced further than the fifth rank, meaning, is on the enemy’s side of the board.

Good bishop

A good bishop is a bishop that is active and has opportunities to execute actions against the enemy pieces following the chess glossary. A bishop that is not blockaded by its own pawns is good.

Bad bishop

This is the counterpart of the “good bishop”, a bad bishop cannot execute any offensive actions on the board. Also, a bishop that is blockaded by its own pawns is a bad bishop, also known as a “great pawn”.

Bare king

Chess term used to refer to the king when is exposed to attacks, checks, and threats. The bare king in the center is a king that can be easily checkmates or trapped.

Bishop of on opposite colors

Part of the chess glossary is the situation of the board in which there are two bishops of different colors. This is important because often opposite colors bishops are likely to lead to a draw.

Blunder

It’s a move that is completely wrong in the game of chess, either tactical or positional mistakes that give away the decisive advantage.

Book win

A book win is a miniature or short game in which a player wins the whole game following theoretical moves, this is a pretty common chess term. This is seen most of the time when players win because of quick traps in the opening that a player knew while the other didn’t.

Book draw

A book draw is a draw that has been achieved by a player following theoretical book moves following the chess glossary. There was no need for practical thinking, analysis, or calculation, everything was following pre-learned moves.

Book move

A book move is a move that follows the book theory of an opening, middle-game plan, or endgame.

Break

A break is how we call it when the pawns place themselves in positions they can capture each other. This produces great changes in the position, modifying the structure and pawns.

Breakthrough

Breakthrough is the name given to the intrusion of the pieces in the enemy camp, usually granting decisive advantage.

Miniature/brevity

This is a chess term conceived in the chess glossary as a game that lasts less than 20 moves. A miniature game is a game that ended fast and decisively because of a fierce.

Brilliancy

Brilliancy is a chess term used when a player displays incredible talent and techniques in his play. It’s not in the chess glossary, it is slang.

Brilliancy price

Many years ago, some games in chess used to receive awards, the “brilliancy prize” was given to the most beautiful game in a tournament.

Building a bridge

This is a technique or a practical tactic that allows you to move the king in the endgame to a certain position safe. Safe meaning you must not deal with nasty checks or blockades.

Bye

Bye is known as the slow, yet consistent walk of the king to a certain sector of the board in the endgame. Usually made in a completely safe trip, fully protected against checks and threats.

Calculation/calculate

Calculation in chess is the practical process of the chess player to foresee the events of the board before they happen.

Candidate move

It’s a move that is among the possible next moves in a critical moment, a fundamental part of the process of elimination.

Process of elimination

It’s a process in which a player selects a certain amount of moves to calculate and compare one by one, to decide the best move.

Candidates’ match

This is the tournament celebrated before the world chess championship. It’s a hard competition whose winner will win the chance to play chess world chess champion to win the title.

Can-opener

This is a pretty common chess plan to attack the enemy king and open files. It consists of advancing the h-pawn to break the king’s castle and have an attack, normally against fianchetto structures.

Capped piece

The capped piece is usually the one we always try to deliver checkmate with. In most of the games, the queen is the capped piece.

Capture

This chess term is part of the chess glossary as the action of taking, or “eating” a piece.

castling

Special movement in chess allows you to move the king and rook at the same time. Used very often as a way to protect the king from enemy attacks on the center.

Castling short

Castling short is how we know the act of castling in the kingside

Castling long

Castling long is castling on the queenside

Casual/friendly game

A friendly game is a non-competitive game of chess, that is not rated, and does not follow the tournament rules. Usually in friendly games, moving a piece backward may be allowed.

Tournament category

The tournament category is how we know the players who have a certain level to play chess. The player that may be very good at playing tournaments or playing strong masters.

Center

The center is a chess term used for the four main squares on the center of the board, it consists of the e4, d4, e5, and d5 squares.

Center file

The center files are the ones that go along the main central squares, the e file, and the d file.

Centralization

The chess glossary defines centralization as the process in which a player maneuvers all of his pieces to have them aim to the center.

Cheapo

This is chess slang used to describe a quick trap or an easy trick to win the advantage. Most of the chess beginners always play to create cheapos in the position.

Chess blindness

This is a term used to describe a pretty usual psychological mistake, in which players don’t see threats that seems obvious.

Chess clock

A chess clock is a timer used in chess competitions or high-level chess games, to regulate the time a player spends thinking before making a move.

Chess problem or composition

It’s a pre-set position that represents a puzzle or a problem the player must resolve by using chess skills. Used as every chess player to train tactical visions and learn patterns.

Chess variant

A chess variant is a game that is not directly chess, but it was inspired by the original game of chess. Most of the chess variants are the same chess game, but with different rules and principles.

Chess960

Also known as the Fischer chess variant, invented by the ex-world chess champion Bobby Fischer. It’s a chess variant in which the pieces of the board have a different order, the order is never the same.

Clearance

It’s a tactical motive in which you move a piece out of the way, to release the action of another piece, and get activation. Usually involves a sacrifice.

Time control

Time control is the specific time limitations the players have on different games, there are three main time controls: Classic (long games), rapid (fast games), and blitz (very fast games).

Closed file

A closed file is a file blocked by pieces, usually, a pawn, but not necessarily a file that can be blocked by a pawn. It’s a file in which the pieces can’t get activated easily.

Closed tournament

A closed tournament is a chess competition of a high level, in which not everyone is allowed to enter. You can usually participate by invitation or selection.

Open tournament

The chess glossary defines open tournaments as those in which any player can participate. It doesn’t make a difference if the player is rated or not, or if is part of the federation or not, is an open tournament, anyone can enter.

Coffeehouse

This is a peculiar playstyle, usually adopted by beginners, in which positionally dubious chess is played. The playstyle trusts the tactics and different quick traps to win your opponent, usually so easily taken down.

Colorbound

Used to refer the boundaries a piece has to a color, for example, a white bishop can’t operate in the black squares.

Combination

A combination is several coordinated, usually calculated moves, that force the opponent to take certain actions. A combination is a process in which the chess position changes its factors.

Compensation

Chess term used to refer to the relative advantages you got out of a sacrifice of material or positional advantages.

Computer move

The computer moves are the moves made by a chess engine that has unhuman playing characteristics.

Connected passed pawns

These are pawns that are passed and together so they can defend each other easily.

Connected rooks

These are the rooks that can execute actions from a certain part of the board while defending each other.

Consolidation

Consists of securing up the position by eliminating every chance of counterplay by your opponent. Trying to obligate your opponent to accept your advantage.

Continuation

This chess term is used to describe the following moves after a key move, usually the start of a combination.

Control

Control is the grip or dominance you have over the position, the will, and disposition to lead the game in the way you prefer.

Cook

It’s slang to use in chess problems when there is an unexpected or hidden refutation that the compositor of the problem doesn’t know.

Corr

Abbreviation for a correspondence game

Counterattack

The counterattack can be seen in chess when a player that has been defended for the first part of the game gets initiative.

Countergambit

The chess glossary defines countergambit as the situation in which a player’s response to a sacrifice is another sacrifice, leading to tactical complication.

Counterplay

This chess term is defining as the counter-attack or the aggressive response a player has to an attack.

Critical position

The critical position is a specific moment of the game in which you have to make a decision that will affect the rest of the game.

Crush

This is when a player is destroying the position of his opponent mercilessly, not allowing him any chance to defend.

Dark squares

A common way to refer to black squares.

Dead draw

When the position is a dead draw, means that there are no chances of misbalance, or any opportunity to become active.

Dead position

A dead position is a position that is so balanced there are no chances for any player to win at all.

Decoy

A tactical motive in which you sacrifice a piece or offer something to lure a piece to a certain square, usually the king

Deflect

Deflection is when you drive a piece to take certain action to obligate it to leave others, has to do with overload.

Desperado

The chess glossary defines this chess term as all of the moves the player takes out of despair or hopelessness

Domination

Domination is when a player has a strong grip over the enemy position, leaving no counterplay chances.

Double attack

It’s when two pieces attack a certain square, point, or piece simultaneously.

Double-check

When two pieces coordinated give a check simultaneously, usually by a discovered attack.

Doubled pawns

This is how we call the pawn structures that present one pawn in front of the other so they can’t defend each other.

Doubled rooks

When two rooks are arranged one in front of the other to put more pressure over a file or pawn.

Draw by agreement

When two players reach a draw by a mutual agreement, they have to shake hands for the draw to consider valid.

Drawish

Word used to describe the positions that tend to lead to a draw, or anything related to drawing in general.

Draw offer

When a player stops the clock and extends his hand to offer a draw by agreement to the other player. The player who is offered a draw can either shake hands to accept the agreement or refuse by resuming the clock count.

Dynamism

This is when the position has so many tactical variations and complications that require calculating. This is a dynamic position.

Eat

Slang for “take” a piece

Edge

Literally the edge of the board.

ELO rating system

This is a system made to measure to a numerical scale a player’s skill or ability to play chess. This way players who have a similar level can be paired, so the match is fair.

Endgame

The chess glossary defines this chess term as the final phase of the chess game.

En passant

A special movement that allows a player to take a pawn in specific conditions.

En prise

This chess term comes from French, and it means that the position is taken, and dominated by a player. It’s usually used to describe when a player is dominating the position positionally and has no good moves to play.

Equalize

Make a position equal by a combination or a certain action.

Evaluation

The process of analyzing a position and all of its positional factors, to emit an evaluation of the position.

Exchange

Allowing your opponent to intentionally take a piece, just so you can take another piece you want to eliminate.

Variation

Several moves and certain lines that follow a move order, or a candidate move and lead to positions with different factors.

Exchange variation

This is the name given to variations of different openings in which a pawn is exchanged in the opening. For example, there is an exchange variation in the king’s Indian defense, the queen’s gambit, and many others.

Expanded center

Chess term used to describe the outer squares of the center of the squares that are around the four main central squares.

Exposed king

An exposed king is a king that is not protected from different attacks, and an insecure king.

Family fork

That’s how we call it when a knight jumps to a square giving check, attacking the queen, rook, or other pieces simultaneously.

Fianchetto

Name given to the structure in which a bishop is placed in the longest diagonal of the board (g2, b2, b7, g7).

Fifty-move rule

This is a rule that says that if the king doesn’t have many pieces, and it moves fifty times, the game will automatically be drawn. No matter how much advantage the other player has.

File

The files are several squares in a vertical line, for example, the c file consists of all of the squares from c1 to c8.

Fingerfehler

This is the mistake that has to do with the touch-move rule. It consists of touching a piece and having to move it because of the rule when actually you didn’t intend to move that piece

Flag

This is slang used to describe the situation in which a player loses over time. Before the digital clocks, the chess clocks marked that a player lost on time by a flag, this is why when you “flag” means you ran out of time.

Flank

A side of the board, also known as “sides”

Fool’s mate

A pretty easy and quick mating figure that allows you to end a game in three moves, following a certain move order.

Forced mate

A checkmate that can’t be avoided

Forced move

A move that forces you to take a certain decision in your game.

Forced win

When you win a game and your opponent can’t stop it

Forfeit

It’s used in a tournament, it’s when a player wins a game because the other player is not present, or didn’t accomplish the rules to start the game.

Fork

It’s a simultaneous attack by the knight

Gambit

It’s the sacrifice of material to get a positional advantage, usually, the piece sacrificed is a pawn.

Gardez

This is another chess term that was taken out of the French language. “Gardez la Reine” means “cover the queen” and it is a way to indicate that the queen is under attack.

Greek gift sacrifice

It’s the sacrifice of a bishop in the h7 square (h2 for black) to attract the king to a square to get him into a mating net.

Half-open file

It’s a file that is not blocked for one of the players, meaning a player can put pressure on it, while the other cannot.

Hanging

This chess term is defined in the chess glossary as to refer to a piece that has been left unprotected and can be taken.

Hanging pawns

Two pawns that are connected and are not blocked.

Harry

Harry is the name given to the h-pawn, just for using a cute nickname, Harry the h pawn.

Hauptturnier

This is a german word that translated means candidates’ tournament.

Hole

Use to refer to a square that can’t be covered or protected by a pawn, so the enemy pieces can easily get there.

Horwitz bishops

This is the name given to certain positions of the bishops that creates great conditions for the attack. There are the needed dispositions of the bishops to play the double bishop sacrifice.

In-between-move

Also known as zwischenzug, it is a move done in the middle of a seemingly forced combination. This move has a strong influence on the positions and can completely turn the advantage in favor of other players.

Illegal Move

A move that does not stick to the classic chess rules.

Illegal position

A position that appeared on the board as a result of an illegal move.

Inaccuracy

A slight mistake that does not mean the complete loss of the game, but represents a complication. Not the best move.

Inactive

A piece is inactive when there are no chances of becoming active.

Increment

The amount of time that sums up on the clock every time you make a move. This was done to avoid losing by time in games that, technically, you can win.

Indian bishop

The Indian bishop is the fianchettoed bishop that you have in the “Indian openings”. For example, the Indian bishop of the king’s Indian defense.

Initiative

The initiative is when the disposition of your pieces allows you to start an attack against the enemy king.

Innovation

It’s a theoretically new move that has not been studied before and represents a surprise for your opponent.

Insufficient material

It’s the situation on the board in which none of the players have enough material to win so the game is automatically declared a draw.

Interference

A tactical motive, in which you interpose a piece’s action in between two pieces. This is done to cover a piece from a threat.

Intermediate move

Also known as the in-between-move, a move done in the middle of a combination, it’s usually a check.

Irregular opening

An opening novelty that has not been studied officially because it’s considered that there are better moves. However, some players choose to play this way to surprise their opponents.

Isolated pawn

A pawn that can’t be protected by any subjacent pawns, because they don’t exist.

Italian bishop

Name given to the special bishop of the Italian game-opening, that plays a special role in the whole opening’s idea.

Key square

The strategic chess glossary defines this chess term as the square that represents a tactical or strategical advantage in specific positions.

Kibitz

Kibitz is when a player who is not an official commentator is commenting on a chess game, in a place where others spectators can hear.

King hunt

It’s the situation in which the pieces keep checking the king until they make it go pretty far away from its starting position. This usually leaves the king completely hopeless against the enemy forces and leads to a checkmate.

King walk

It’s the safe walk of the king from a certain point of the board to another.

Kotov syndrome

It’s a phenomenon of chess psychology in which a player is not able to spot a good plan after thinking too much in the position. This is explained in Alexander Kotov’s book “think like a grandmaster”.

Lightning chess

It’s a special way to call the fastest time control modes in chess, like blitz or bullet.

Light-square bishop

It’s defined in the chess glossary as the bishop that runs by the white squares, a slang.

Dark square bishop

This chess term is used to refer to the bishop that runs by the black squares.

Line

A line is a group of moves that reach a certain position after they are played in a certain order.

Liquidation

It’s the situation of the board in which most of the pieces exchange until there are few pieces left in the game.

Loose piece

Chess term used to refer to a piece that is unprotected, a loose knight.

Loose position

That’s how we call it when the position is easy to attack, usually because one player advanced too many pawns. When the pawn structures are not coordinated and the pieces are too far ahead in the enemy camp it’s a loose position.

Tempo

A tempo is a turn to make a move, the tempo represents the opportunity to move.

Lucena endgame

This is a typical chess endgame, considered one of the most important to know due to the high frequency in games. It consists of a rook and pawn against rook endgame which requires certain maneuvers to win.

Luft

It’s the name given to the move of any of the pawns in front of the castled king in a chess position. This move is done to eliminate the back-rank weakness, the word “luft” means “air” in german.

Mainline

The mainline is the main variation that can be followed by a player or not. The most frequent line to follow in certain openings.

Maroczy Bind

That’s how we call certain structures in which the white pieces dominate the d5 square completely. This is seen in some variations of the Sicilian Defense, and it requires extremely delicate positional play.

Master

We call masters all those players who hold a title granted by FIDE. Those titles are FIDE Master (FM), international master (IM), grandmaster (GM), candidate master (CM). There are also special titles for women players: woman FIDE master (WFM), woman international master (WIM), woman grandmaster (WGM).

Match

A match is some competitive chess games disputed to win a certain title or tournament. The Kasparov vs Karpov match to 30 games for example.

Mate

A short way to say “checkmate”

Material

Material is the name given to the pieces of the board, the total amount of pieces you have. If a player has the material advantage it means he’s got more pieces than his rival

Materialism

The practice of always trying to take more material, thinking that capturing pieces is the principal in chess.

Mating attack

This is the name given to an attack that will unavoidably lead to a checkmate.

Miniature

A game that was won in minus 20 moves, a short game that usually finishes because of a fierce attack.

Minority

It’s a chess term used to state that there is a group of pieces that is a numerical disadvantage on the board.

Minority attack

The minority attack is a typical chess plan of the queen’s gambit exchange variation. Consists of attacking a pawn structure with fewer pawns, to weaken the said structure.

Minor piece

The minor pieces are those pieces that are not pawns but are not considered the strongest pieces. The knights and bishops are the minor pieces.

Major piece

Major pieces are those that can put the most pressure in the position. Rooks and queens are major pieces.

Mobile pawn center

The chess glossary defines it as the center in which two pawns have no opposition at all.

Move order

The move order is the certain order in which the movements of a combination are played. The move order can affect the final result of said combination.

Mysterious rook move

This chess term was invented by the ex-world chess champion Aron Nimzowitsch. It represents a rook move that has apparently no purpose but is prophylactically correct.

Norm

The norms are the specific rules a chess player has to accomplish to achieve a master title.

Pairing

The pairing is a system used to pair the players in a tournament, and create fair play. This is done to ensure everyone is playing against someone with a similar level.

Notation

The notation is the system or language used to describe the chess moves without using a chessboard.

Novelty

This is something new a chess player is trying out in a tournament or competition. It’s a line or move that is not commonly seen.

Octopus

This is a nice chess term to refer to the knight when is placed in a strong central square. It’s called this because the knights occupying this position usually control several important squares.

Opening repertoire

This chess term is used to refer to the different chess openings a chess player learns and studies. This is so the player is prepared to play the opening phase of the game perfectly.

Open lines

The open lines are those lines in which no piece is interfering, which means rooks can activate.

Opposition

It’s a positional advantage of the endgame, in which a player is placing his king right in front of the other. This is done so the king that is not holding the opposition has to leave key squares.

Optimal play

Optimal play is the display of correct chess moves at any level. Perfect play.

OTB

This is a short way to say over the board

Outpost

It’s defined in the chess glossary as a square in which you can place a piece with little or no opposition at all.

Outside passed pawns

These are the pawns that have no opposition in their way to promote, and they are placed on the edges of the board. For example, a passed pawn on the a-file or the h-file is outside passed pawns.

Overloaded

The overloaded piece is the one that has too many functions, and cannot accomplish all of them, like defending two pieces at once.

Overprotection

Chess term used when a player is dedicating all of his forces and efforts to the defense of a certain square or piece.

Passed pawn

A passed pawn has no opposition to advance, a pawn that will not encounter any other pawn to block it.

Passive

In the chess glossary, the passive player, piece, or move is that one that does not achieve any dynamic goal in the position. A move that does not grant too much advantage.

Passive sacrifice

This situation is given after a player has given a sacrifice, and after the opponent didn’t accept it, the first player leaves the sacrificed piece under attack.

Pattern recognition

It’s when there is a certain tactical or strategic figure to apply in a game, and you see it because you have already seen it before.

Patzer

This is an insult, used to refer to chess players who are really bad at playing, it would be like “woodpusher”.

Pawn break

It’s when the pawns are placed in a position in which they can capture each other.

Pawn center

Name given to the structure in which there are two pawns on the center, with no opposition at all.

Pawn chain

The pawn chain is the pawn structure, that may be interconnected and defended by coordinated pawns.

Pawn island

A pawn island is a group of more than two pawns, that is not connected to all of the pawns.

Pawn majority/minority

They are a group of pawns of different colors that encounter each other, and they are more or less than the others. I have a pawn majority if I have one pawn more on the queenside than my opponent and vice versa.

Pawn storm

A pawn storm is an attack that characterizes because there are a great number of pawns simultaneously attacking the king’s castle.

Performance rating

The performance rating is the relative performance of a player in a game or tournament, indifferently to his real rating.

Perpetual check

The perpetual check is the situation in which a player checks the king permanently to force a draw.

PGN file

This is the format of the chess notation, that can be read, analyzed, and modified with special interfaces in a computer.

Philidor position

The Philidor position is an important chess endgame considered indispensable for any chess player to know. It consists of a rook and pawn against a rook endgame.

Play by hand

This chess term is used to express that a chess player is playing aimless, and automatic moves. A move “played by hand” was a fast response with little calculation.

Poisoned pawn

A seemingly undefended pawn, but its capture would lead to tactical and positional difficulty.

Poisoned pawn variation

It’s in the chess glossary as certain variations of the Sicilian defense, in which a player offers a pawn for a greater advantage.

Positional play

Strategical and subtle play in which all of the positional factors are considered aims to win an advantage in the long term.

Post mortem

This is the analysis of a chess game after it has been completed and the players are looking for mistakes. It’s simply analysis after you have lost a game.

Premove

A function of the chess webpages in which you can pre-move a piece while is not your turn. For the move to playing automatically once your opponent’s move reached the server.

Prepared variation

A prepared opening variation that the player knows to its best, to counter a specific response by your opponent.

Two weaknesses principle

A chess strategical principle that states that when one weakness does not break your opponent’s resistance, you need to create another one.

Problem-like

A position that remembers or has a nature similar to a study, or a chess problem that the player has to resolve.

Study-like move/win

A study-like move is a move that looks or gives the impression of being from a study, due to its brilliancy.

Promotion

The act in which a pawn converts into a queen, knight, or another piece, after reaching the eighth rank.

Prophylaxis

An important chess skill consists of foreseeing the events of the board and preventing your opponent’s plans before they happen.

Push

The act and effect of moving a pawn forward in a position.

Pseudo sacrifice

A chess sacrifice that technically is not a sacrifice, because it unavoidably leads to gain an advantage, checkmate, or at least, recovering the material.

Queening

Slang, referred to in the chess glossary, as to when the pawn was promoted to a queen.

Randomized chess

It’s a different name given to the Fischer chess, or chess 960

Rank

The number of squares that a horizontal line of the board has, for example, from the perspective of the white piece, the eight rank goes from a8 to h8.

Recapture

Chess term used to refer to when a player captures a piece after your opponent has already captured one of yours, reestablishing the material equality.

Refute/Refutation

To refute a move or variation means playing a move superior to the previous move of your opponent.

Relative pin

A relative pin is a pin that is not absolute and is not against the king.

Reserve tempo

A tempo that is saved in the endgame to lose a tempo in case it is needed. This is a common tactic used to win the opposition or to leave the opponent in zugzwang.

Resign

The act in which a player yields, granting the victory to his opponent, is done by shaking hands.

Romantic chess

Romantic chess is the chess era in which crazy tactical and positional combinations were first appearing in chess.

Rook lift

It’s a typical maneuver that is done in several attacks and is a common pattern that is pretty advantageous. It’s when the rook is placed in front of the pawns to attack the king, or put pressure.

Royal fork

A jump with the knight to a square from which it attacks the king and the queen simultaneously.

Sac

This chess term appears in the chess glossary as the short way to say “sacrifice”

Sacrifice

The action of putting your piece in a position in which it can be taken on purpose, normally to win greater advantages.

Scholar mate

This is a typical checkmating figure, that is usually used by scholars and beginners when they are learning the game. It consists of a checkmate delivered in four moves, 1 e4 e5 2 Bc4 Nc6 3 Qh5 Nf6 4 Qxf7#

Sealed move

The move that a player had to do after the adjournment. To avoid unfair advantage, when a game was suspended, the player who had the move had to write the next move and put it in a sealed envelope. This way, when the game resumed, the move the player had in the enveloped is revealed to his opponent.

Semi-closed game

A position in which the center is not fully closed, and there are still possibilities of activation.

Sharp

A chess term used to describe tactically complicated positions, in which any simple mistake would be punished with defeat.

Shot

Slang for the tactical blows or combinations that win decisive advantage quickly. A tactical shot killed the position.

Simplification

The action a player takes to exchange all of the pieces when he’s got the advantage, to amplify his advantage in the endgame.

Simultaneous chess

A special way to play chess in which a player can play on two boards simultaneously.

Simul

A simul is a chess event in which a certain master or player with a great chess level plays many people at the same time.

Skewer

A chess tactical motive in which a piece threatens two pieces at the same time, and after the first piece is moved, the other one can be taken.

Smothered mate

A chess typical mate that appears after a tactical pattern, consists of the king being checkmated by the knight.

Sofia rules

The Sofia rules are usually applied in many tournaments at the top level. It says the players of the tournament can’t make a draw by agreement, there must be a stalemate or other drawing conditions.

Solid

This is a chess term used for “difficult to attack” a “solid position” is a position that can’t be easily be dominated by force.

Space

The number of squares you dominate on the board; represents a good positional advantage.

Spanish bishop

The Spanish bishop is the name given to the white-square bishop of the white pieces in the Spanish opening.

Speed chess

Another way to call blitz or rapid chess.

Spite chess

It’s a check a player gives to bother the other player or that has a low impact on the enemy position. This is usually made by players that are in a mating net which they can’t escape and deliver checks desperately with no effect.

Squeeze

The chess glossary defines it as the situation in which a player is positionally dominating his opponent. This takes the player at a disadvantage to encounter a situation in which all of his legal moves lead to defeat.

Strategy

The strategy consists of the plan a player adopts to win advantage and to win the game.

Strongpoint

A strong point is a certain square or sector of the board that can be advantageous for a player.

Strong square

A square that a player can get a huge advantage of

Swindle

This chess term is used when a player who is in an objectively worse position suddenly turns the game in his favor. Usually, this is done by making your opponent fall into a quick trap that could have been easily avoided.

Tactician

A player that tends to always choose the most tactical variations in chess also has a great tactical vision.

Tarrasch rule

This is a positional principle of the rook endgames developed by the master Siegbert Tarrasch. It says that the rooks should only be placed behind the passed pawns.

Technique

The skill the player has to convert the advantage into real wins.

Tension

The tension created when there are pieces that can be taken at any time of the game, but they remain in tension by not doing it.

Thematic

The principal motive for a player’s advantage or superiority.

Theme tournament

These are chess competitions, usually casual tournaments, in which all of the game must follow a certain opening or variation. This is a common practice in the chess club to prepare players for a tournament that is to come.

Theoretical draw

A draw is easily achieved by following book moves, meaning, pre-studied patterns.

Threat

An imminent attack on a certain piece.

Tiebreaks

An additional phase after a chess match has resulted in a tie, and the players play another extraordinary game to finally decide the winner.

Time control

A certain move that after is played grants more time on the clock to both players, normally after the 40th move.

Tournament

A chess competition that is held for fun, or to win a prize, status, and rating in FIDE.

Transposition

It’s when two players reach a certain position by a different move order than the normal.

Tripled pawns

This chess term is defined by the chess glossary as the structure in which there are three pawns one in front of the other.

Undermining

This is a tactical theme or motive, one of the most important and commonly seen. It consists of leaving a certain piece undefended by capturing the piece that is actually defending it.

Underpromotion

A tactical motive in which a player intentionally promotes to another piece that is not a queen, like a rook or bishop. Usually done to avoid a draw by stalemate, or other issues.

Unpin

The act of taking a piece out of a pin, or releasing the pressure over a pinned piece.

Vanished center

It’s the chess term used to describe positions in which the central pawns of both sides have been captures. This leaves the position with a completely open game where tactics and dynamic play rule overall principles.

Waiting move

A move that has absolutely no purpose, just giving the turn to your opponent to see what he does.

Weakness

Any point of the board that can be easily attacked and dominated, and can give a certain advantage.

Weak square

A square in which you can place one of your pieces almost unavoidably, winning some advantage.

Windmill

It’s a common tactical motive that consists of two pieces highly coordinated that deliver a series of checks. This usually leads to destroying the enemy position completely, with your opponent being totally unable to defend.

Wing Gambit

A chess gambit that is done to deflect one of your opponent’s central pawns to the sides. They are usually done with the c and f pawns.

Winning position

A position that is technically winning, you just need the correct technique to do it. a position in which you have a decisive advantage.

X-rays

Attacking a piece indirectly, by threatening it through another piece. “the queen is looking at yours through x-rays”.

Zeitnot

It’s a German word that is usually used as slang among chess players. It’s used to describe the situation of a tournament game in which a player has little remaining time on the clock, and has to move fast. This usually leads the player to commit mistakes due to playing hastily, that’s called zeitnot.

Zugzwang

A chess term is used to describe the situation of a player in which all of the possible moves in his position lead to disadvantage.

Also visit:

https://www.chess.com/terms

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