ARK ANGLES Advanced Australian Software

Glossary of chess terms



AcceptTo take an offered piece, as in the King's Gambit Accepted opening 1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4. See also "Decline".
ActiveAn aggressive move, line of play, or position. When mentioned in regards to a playing style, it indicates sharp or tactical tendencies.
Active defenseThe use of attack as a defense, rather than passively trying to cover weaknesses.
Active pieceA developed piece that is actively participating in the conduct of the game. Active pieces form the basis of any attack.
AdvantageWhere the current position of the game favours one side over another. A material advantage refers to having a higher point count than the opponent. A permanent advantage is one with a lasting effect, such as an advantage in material or superior pawn structure. A positional advantage is an advantage in time, space, mobility, pawn structure, or control of critical squares. A temporary advantage is one that may eventually disappear, such as a lead in development.
AlertnessThe ability to take advantage of the opponent’s inaccuracies while playing accurately yourself.
Algebraic notationThe modern and most popular way of recording chess moves, using single letter piece identifiers and unique alphabetic file and numeric rank identifiers.
Alpha-Beta pruningA technique used by computer programmers to cut down on the number of possible moves a computer has to evaluate before choosing the best move.
AnalysisCalculation of possible moves and variations for a position.
AnnotationWritten comments about a game or position. May include variations from the main line of play.
Artificial castlingTo exchange the positions of the king and rook other than by castling. Also known as "Castling by hand".
Artificial manoeuvreTrying a bit too hard, or making an odd use of pieces.
Attack1. An aggressive move or series of moves in a certain area of the board.
2. Threatening the capture of a piece or pawn or an empty square.
Back rankThe first rank on the board for each player. It can become weak late in the game if the rooks don't cover it enough.
Backward pawn1. A pawn at the base of a pawn chain that can't move forward due to one or more enemy pawns on the adjacent files.
2. A pawn which stands on an open file and cannot be protected by any other pawn.
Bad bishopA bishop whose movement is restricted by friendly pawns on its colour squares. These friendly pawns are in turn restricted by enemy pawns or pieces, thereby being unable to vacate squares for the bishop.
Base of pawn chainThe very last pawn in a diagonal chain. It is the weakest point due to it not being supported by another pawn.
BatteryA lineup of pieces that move similarly on a single file or diagonal, usually pointing toward a critical point in the enemy's camp. Batteries can be created by Queen and Rooks on a file or rank, and Queen and Bishops on a diagonal.
BerserkerA rash playing style characterized by frenzied attacking with one or two pieces, perhaps with little regard for strategy or danger.
BindWhere a player is so tied up he has trouble finding useful moves. See "Squeeze".
Bishop pairTwo bishops against a bishop and knight or two knights. Two bishops are effective together because they control diagonals of both colours, and work very well in open positions. See "Opposite colour bishops".
BlockadeImmobilization of an enemy pawn by placing a piece (preferably a knight) on the square directly in front of it.
Blockading squareThe square directly in front of an isolated or backward pawn. This square can also serve as an outpost square, as an occupying piece cannot be chased away by pawns.
BlunderA horrible mistake where material is lost, serious tactical or positional concessions are made, or the game is lost.
Book1. Published opening theory.
2. The library of opening moves maintained by a computer chess playing program.
Book PlayerA person who memorizes opening theory. Taking someone "out of book" refers to avoiding theory and playing a new or unorthodox move, which may confuse a book player.
BreakA pawn move that proposes a pawn trade in order to increase space or relieve a cramped position.
BreakthroughPenetrating the enemy's position, whether by a pawn break or the sacrifice of pieces or pawns.
BrilliancyA game containing a very deep strategic idea, a beautiful combination, or an original idea or plan.
Broad pawn centreThree or four centre pawns abreast, which indicate very aggressive intentions. The opponent of such a "big centre" must look to restrain it and break it up.
Buried pieceA piece hemmed in by friendly pieces and pawns. Such a piece will have a difficult time actively participating, and may also interfere with the development of other pieces.
CalculationThe working out of variations mentally, without moving the pieces.
Candidate moveA move considered as a starting point in the analysis of variations.
Capped pawnA marked pawn with which a player engages to deliver checkmate, in giving extreme odds to a weaker opponent.
CaptureMoving a piece to a square occupied by an enemy piece, thereby removing the enemy piece from the board, out of play. Once a piece is captured, it may never return to the game.
Castle1. The act of moving the king and rook simultaneously. This is the only time in the game where two pieces can be moved in the same turn. Castling consists of moving the king two squares either right or left, and placing the rook on the square beside the king closest to the centre. There must be no pieces between king and rook, neither piece may have already moved, and the King may not move out of Check, over it, or into it. Castling is usually worthwhile because it moves the King to a safer position in the wings behind pawns, and the rook to a more powerful position in the centre of the board at the same time.
2. Unsophisticated term for Rook.
Castle longQueenside castling.
Castle shortKingside castling.
CentralisationTo move pieces towards the centre. This can be useful if there is no obvious alternative plan.
Centre The four centre squares e4, d4, e5 and d5. The area bounded by c3, c6, f3 and f6 is also considered central. The d and e files are the centre files. The centre of the board is of great strategic significance, as pieces placed there generally have the greatest scope.
Centre breakThe attack on two or more pawns abreast on the 4th rank by an opposing pawn in order to break up their formation.
Centre fork trickA series of moves where a knight is sacrificed for a centre pawn, knowing that it can be recovered by a pawn fork and the enemy's central pawn structure will be destroyed by doing so.
Centre pawnsThe king’s and queen’s pawns.
CentralizePlacing of pieces and pawns so they both control the centre, and influence other areas of the board. Pieces usually have maximum mobility (and therefore power) when centrally placed.
CheckThe act of attacking the opponent's king. When check takes place, a player usually calls out "check" so the opponent is aware of the threat. The opponent must get out of check on the next move, either by moving the King, capturing the attacking piece, or moving another piece between the King and the attacking piece.
CheckmateThreatening the capture of the enemy king such that it cannot escape. This wins the game for the attacking side.
ChessmenPieces.
Classical1. A playing style based on the formation of a full pawn centre. The strategic concepts involved are seen as ultimate laws, and therefore rather dogmatic.
2. An era where all players used this style and those that did not were considered irregular.
ClearanceA move that clears a square for use by a different piece. The new piece can use the square to better advantage. A "clearance sacrifice" is where the vacating piece is sacrificed to make room.
Closed gameA position where the pawn structure is fixed, the centre cluttered with interlocked pawns. Knights thrive in such positions, and play is generally focussed on the flanks.
CombinationA sacrifice and forced sequence of moves to gain a certain advantage.
CompensationAn equivalent advantage that offsets an advantage of the enemy's, for example material vs. development, space vs. superior minor piece, or three pawns vs. knight.
Connected passed pawnsTwo or more same-colour passed pawns on adjacent files. See "Passed pawn".
Connected rooksWhen the two rooks are on the same rank or file, with no pieces or pawns between them. Rooks are very strong when they are connected, as they support each other.
ConsolidateTaking care of your position before continuing active operations. This could mean adding protection to critical pawns or squares, improving the placement of pieces, or making the king safer.
ControlThe domination or sole use of a square, group of squares, file ordiagonal. One is also "in control" when one has the initiative.
CoordinatesUnique square identifiers, made up of a number indicating rank and a letter indicating file.
CounterplayAggressive actions by the defender. Counterplay may equalize the chances, may be not quite enough to equalize, or may seize the initiative and gain an advantage.
Counter attackThe launch of an attack by the defender, rather than making more defensive moves. Designed to place the opponent on the defensive.
Counter threatSee "Counter attack".
CrampedDisadvantaged in space, leading to a reduction in mobility of one’s pieces.
Cross-checkA check in reply to a check. Typical of queen endings.
Critical positionA point where the evaluation of the position will obviously favour one side, or where it will equalize. The position is delicately balanced and the slightest mistake could be disastrous.
DecisiveA move which alters or makes certain the result of a game. A decisive move may make an advantageous position a winning one. A decisive error may lose the advantage or the game.
DeclineTo not take an offered piece, as in the King's Gambit Declined opening 1. e4 e5 2. f4 followed by any move except exf4. See also "Accept".
Decoy1. The offering of material in order to get an enemy piece to move.
2. The lure of an opponent’s piece to a square that is particularly vulnerable.
Defense1. Any move or plan that is intended to meet or stop an enemy's threats or attack.
2. Name used for openings initiated by black, such as Petroff Defense, French Defense. etc. These systems are called defenses due to black having the second move, and being forced to respond to white's first move.
DeflectionA tactic which forces an opponent piece from a square where it had to be, either because it was defending a piece or square or because it was blocking a threat.
Destructive sacrificeSacrificing material to destroy the pawn cover or other protection around the enemy king. Usually a point of no return.
DevelopmentThe moving of pieces from their starting positions to new positions where their mobility and activity are increased. To bring pieces into play.
DiagonalA diagonal row of squares. Diagonals are named by the coordinates of their starting and ending squares.
Discovered attackThe creation of an attack from one piece caused by the moving away of another piece that was masking it. These are potent moves, as they may enable a piece to move away from a threat in safety, or enables two attacks to be launched simultaneously.
Discovered checkCheck given by one piece as the result of the moving away of another piece that was masking it.
Dislodging manoeuvreA move to upset a defensive formation.
DistanceThe number of squares between two pieces. This is a crucial calculation in endgames to determine whether a king can stop a hostile passed pawn.
Double attackThe launch of two threats simultaneously. It is different from a fork in that either or both threats need not be a capture.
Double checkA simultaneous check given by moving one piece to give check, thereby also unmasking another piece which also gives check.
Doubled pawnsTwo pawns of the same colour on the same file, put there by a capture. These pawns are generally considered to be weak, but they can control valuable squares and create open or half-open files.
DrawA game that ends in a tie, where each player is awarded half a point. A draw occurs when 1) there's not enough material to force mate; 2) there is a stalemate; 3) a 3-time repetition of position has been reached, or 4) there is mutual agreement (see "Draw offer").
Draw offerThe suggestion by one player to the other that they agree to call the game a draw. When playing manually, the correct way to make a draw offer is to make your move, say clearly "Draw?", and then start your opponent's clock. Never make a draw offer when it's your opponent's turn to move.
DynamicDynamics are represented by the aggressive potential in a move or position.
Dynamic playDynamic play occurs as a result of frequent structural changes that demand constant reevaluation of one's strategy. These changes are usually as a result of tactical threats or significant changes in the pawn structure.
EchosTwo functionally identical positions on the same board, one the mirror image of the other, due to the arrangement of the defender’s pieces being effectively symmetrical. This allows the same attack to be made down either side of the board.
Elo ratingAn internationally accepted mathematical system for ranking chess players, created by Arpad Elo. International Grandmasters are typically in the range 2500 to 2700, world champions often over 2700. The standard deviation is 200 points. The scale is such that a player at 1800 would be expected to beat one at 1600 by the same margin as a player at 2600 against one at 2400. Many games must be played before an Elo rating can be estimated with confidence. The Elo rating is the foundation for the award of FIDE titles.
EndgameThe final phase of the game when there are few pieces left on the board. The endgame generally starts after queens have been exchanged or when the immediate goal is to promote a pawn.
En passantFrench "in passing." It occurs when a pawn moves two squares from its starting position, and passes an enemy pawn that has advanced to its fifth rank. The advanced pawn on the fifth rank may choose to capture the pawn as if the pawn had only moved forward one square. This capture must be made immediately after the two square advance, or else the right to capture "en passant" is lost. In some chess notations an en passant capture is labelled "e.p."
En priseFrench "in take" A piece or pawn that is unprotected and exposed to capture.
EqualityWhere neither player has a discernible advantage over the opponent.
ExchangeA trade of pieces. Trading a minor piece for the opponent’s rook is called "winning the exchange". Trading a rook for the opponent’s minor piece is called "losing the exchange". See "Point count".
Exchange sacrificeWhere a player willfully trades a rook for a minor piece in return for compensation of some kind. See "Compensation".
ExpansionIncreasing the amount of space directly under your control. To expand, push pawns forward in an attempt to increase the boundaries of your territory.
FianchettoItalian "on the flank". The development of a bishop to b2 or g2 (b7 or g7 for Black).
FIDEFederation Internationale des Echecs, the world governing body for chess. Founded in 1924, it organizes world championship competitions, draws up rules of the game, and awards the international titles to top players.
Fifty move ruleA game can be drawn when fifty moves have been made by each player without a capture or pawn advancement.
FileA row of eight squares from one end of the chessboard to the other. In Algebraic Notation these are labelled a to h, starting from the queenside of the board.
Fixed centreWhere the centre of the board is occupied by multiple pawns and some of them are fixed in place by opposing pawns. In some cases, pawn movement is possible but the advancing pawns will be subject to capture.
Fixed pawn structurePawn set-ups where there is little or no possible mobility. Since there will be little pawn play, strategies are easier to determine.
FlankThe files that do not belong to the centre, that is the a, b and c files on the queenside, and the f, g and h files on the kingside. Certain openings that focus on flank development are called "flank openings." Typical first moves for these openings are 1.c4; 1.b3; 1.Nf3; etc.
Flank attackAttacking on either the kingside or queenside. Such attacks are much more successful when the centre is closed.
Fluid pawn structureStructures where future pawn movement is likely. Strategy may be difficult to determine, as a change in the pawn structure necessitates a change in strategy.
Focal pointA weak square near the enemy king. This is targeted by the attacker, and the defender may find it difficult to protect. More than one focal point makes an attack stronger.
Fool’s mateCheckmate in the manner of 1. f3 e3 2. g4 Qh4*
ForceYour army. All pawns and pieces are units of force.
ForcedA move or series of moves that must be played to avoid loss of the game or catastrophic loss of material.
Forcing moveA move which leads the opponent into a forced move or moves.
ForepostAn advanced square which cannot be attacked by a hostile piece of inferior rank. Foreposts are ideal squares for attacking knights as they have a short range. An absolute forepost is where the position is unassailable. A contingent forepost can only be attacked at the cost of creating a weakness elsewhere.
ForkA form of double attack where one piece threatens two enemy pieces at the same time. In a triple fork, three enemy pieces are threatened.
FortressA defensive blockade to keep out the enemy forces, especially the king.
Forward PawnA pawn that is at the very front of a pawn chain. It is the only pawn contained in the chain that does not protect another pawn.
Frontal assaultA direct attack on an enemy pawn that is located on the same half-open file as your heavy pieces.
GambitItalian "a trip up". Where the first player voluntarily sacrifices a pawn or piece in the opening for positional or developmental advantage. A counter-gambit is where the second player makes a similar sacrifice for similar aims.
General principlesBasic rules that serve as guidelines for less advanced players. Basic rules don't apply to all situations, and more experienced players learn when to apply them in each specific position.
GhostsThreats created in the mind of inexperienced players due to lack of confidence or fear of their opponent.
Good bishop1. A bishop not hindered by friendly pawns on the same colour squares.
2. A bishop with adequate scope.
GrabCapture a piece, perhaps making a positional concession in the process.
GrandmasterThe highest title (apart from World Champion) that a chess player can achieve. It is bestowed by FIDE upon players who have achieved certain performance norms. Abbreviation GM. Other titles (in order of importance) are International Master and FIDE Master.
Grandmaster drawA quick, uninteresting draw.
Half-open fileA file with pawns of only one colour on it. This file is closed to the pawn owner, and open to the other player.
HangingA pawn or piece subject to immediate capture. Also "En prise".
Heavy piecesRooks and queens, also known as "major pieces" or "heavy artillery."
HoldTo hang on, to allow a successful defense.
HoleA square that is undefendable by pawns. Such a square serves as an excellent home for enemy pieces, especially the knight.
Illegal moveA move made contrary to the rules of chess.
ImbalanceA noticeable difference between the white and black armies. This may include material advantage, superior pawn structure, space, development, the initiative, or a superior minor piece.
Impossible moveA move which has obvious unfavourable results, and so is to be avoided.
Inactive pieceA piece not directly involved in the flow of the game.
InitiativeThe player that is on the attack, or otherwise applying pressure to the opponent on the defensive, is said to "have the initiative."
InnovationA novel move or idea in an established line of play.
Insufficient materialWhen neither player has enough pieces to mate their opponent. A draw is declared.
Interference moveA move which obstructs the line of attack of an enemy piece.
International masterThe next highest title below Grandmaster. Abbreviation IM.
InterposePlacement of a piece between an attacking enemy queen, rook or bishop, and the piece being attacked.
IntuitionA ability of an experienced player to decide on a move or plan by feel, rather than by extensive analysis.
Isolated pawnA pawn with no friendly pawns on the adjacent files. It cannot be protected by pawns, and the square directly in front of it can be a safe haven for enemy pieces as they cannot be threatened by pawns.
J’AdoubeFrench "I adjust". Expression used prior to a piece being adjusted on its square.
KingsideThe half of the board from which the king starts. The e, f, g and h files.
Knight on the rimA knight on the edge of the board. Unless it is performing a specific duty, its future is said to be "dim," as it attacks very few squares, none in the centre. It may even become trapped on the edge.
Liquidation1. A series of exchanges that are done to slow or halt the enemy's attack.
2. To trade off in order to enter a drawn or won endgame.
Locked centreSimilar to a fixed centre except that no pawn movement is possible.
LuftGerman "air." Moving a pawn so the king has an escape square to prevent back-rank mates.
Main lineThe principal variation used or analysed.
Major pieceA rook or queen.
ManoeuvreA series of quiet moves designed to redeploy your pieces more favourably.
MasterA player whose Elo rating is 2200 or higher. If the player's rating drops below 2200 the title is revoked.
MateSee "Checkmate".
MaterialYour pieces and pawns (excluding the king). See "Force".
Mating attackAn attack against the enemy king that leads to possible checkmate, or where mate can be averted by the enemy sacrificing material. Either way, a winning advantage is obtained by the attacker.
Mating netA mating attack that leads to mate with correct play, no matter what the enemy does. A forced mating attack.
MiddlegameThe phase of the game between the opening and endgame. The middlegame generally commences after development has been completed by both sides.
Minor pieceA bishop or knight.
Minority attackAn attack on a pawn majority by a pawn minority. This usually occurs on the queenside. The idea is to force a pawn trade that creates a pawn weakness in the enemy pawn structure.
MobilityHow much freedom of movement the pieces have. A piece's value is increased when it has more mobility, as it has more attacking power. See "Scope".
NotationA system of symbols and coordinates for recording the moves of a game. See "Algebraic notation".
Occupation1. Placement of a rook or queen on a rank or file, or a bishop or queen on a diagonal, to exert control over it.
2. Placement of a piece safely on a square to exert pressure from it.
Open1. A type of position (see "Open Game") or file (see "Open File").
2. A type of tournament in which any class of player can participate.
Open fileA file where no pawns are present. Rooks are at their strongest when placed on open files.
Open gameA position where there are few centre pawns, and many open attacking lines. A lead in development is crucial to exploiting an open position.
OpeningThe beginning phase of a game, usually the first 10-15 moves. It is characterized by rapid development of forces, control and/or occupation of the centre, and getting the king to safety. The real purpose of the opening is to create an imbalance in the enemy's camp, and development of pieces to exploit this imbalance.
OpeningsA specific sequence of moves which have been catalogued over time. Specific openings are often played because players have analysed them thoroughly and believe they are the best way to achieve the initiative. There are over 1000 openings and many, many more variations. Most are named after the player, region or type of moves that are played, such as the Alekhine Defense, King's Gambit and Sicilian Defense.
Opening bookSee "Book".
Opening librarySee "Book".
Opening repertoireA set of openings that a player prepares in advance to get to a preferred middlegame position.
Opposite colour bishopsWhere each side has only one bishop that travels on squares of a different colour from that of the enemy. This can be effective during an attacking middlegame, as the defending bishop cannot control the squares the attacking bishop travels on. In an endgame, opposite colour bishops generally signal a draw, as the defender can put his king and pawns on the opposite colour of the attacker's bishop.
OppositionAn endgame term meaning the king not forced to move. Where the two kings stand on the same file or diagonal with an odd number of squares between them, the player that doesn't have to move is said to "have the opposition." This is important in king and pawn endings as the player who can secure the opposition can effectively guard certain spaces or drive the opposing king back.
OrientationThe way the board is positioned. The correct way has each player with a white square in their right hand corner.
OutflankingA manoeuvre in the endgame with kings where one makes forward progress up the board while: 1) not allowing the opponent to gain the opposition, or 2) temporarily giving up the opposition in order to achieve a certain goal.
OutpostA safe square near or in enemy territory that is protected by friendly pawns or pieces, and subject to effective occupation by one of your pieces.
Outside passed pawnA passed pawn on the flank which is far from all the other pawns on the board.
OverextendedThe position after a failed offensive or advance, in which a player's position is left with various weaknesses and no compensation for them.
OverprotectionDefending a strong point more times than appears necessary. The idea is that the overprotected pawn or square may be causing considerable problems for the opponent, who would be unwise to try to break the strong point, because he would release the latent power of the protecting pieces. See also "Prophylaxis".
Overworked pieceA piece which is required to do too much, defending too many pieces or squares at once. These pieces are open to attack, because moving them leads to a number of weaknesses being exposed.
Passed pawnA pawn that has advanced past any enemy pawn that could hinder or capture it. Passed pawns are what are needed to promote.
PassiveAn inactive move or plan that doesn't fight for the initiative. A passive position has no hope of counterplay or active possibilities. A passive player favours defense rather than attack.
Pawn centrePawns based in the centre of the board, primarily on d4, e4, d5 or e5.
Pawn chainTwo or more similarly-coloured pawns linked on a diagonal. The weakest point of such a chain is its base, as that pawn cannot be defended by another pawn.
Pawn contactOpposing pawns are "in contact" when they are able to capture each other. Capturing resolves the tension in the position; maintaining contact maintains the tension.
Pawn duoTwo pawns of the same colour that are side by side and touching each other.
Pawn islandA group of pawns of the same colour separated from the next pawn by at least one open file. More islands indicates a weaker pawn structure.
Pawn stormAdvancing one or more pawns towards the enemy king with the intent of ripping up his pawn cover. Often used when both players have castled to opposite sides.
Pawn structureThe position of all the pawns.
Petite combinationA combination involving only a few moves and often only one tactical theme.
Perpetual checkUnremitting attack on a king, without checkmate. Under some rules this may result in a draw.
PieceSometimes used in a particular sense to refer to any piece other than a pawn.
PinAt attack by a queen, rook or bishop on a piece which cannot move without exposing a more important piece or square. The pinned piece is said to be masking or screening the more important piece or square. An absolute pin is where the screened piece is a king, therefore it is illegal for the pinned piece to move as it would expose the king to check. A relative pin is where moving the pinned piece would result in a loss of material or other unfavourable effects.
Pinned pieceThe piece under attack which cannot or should not be moved because of a pin.
Pinning pieceThe attacking piece in a pin.
PlanA short or long term goal which a player bases his moves on. The goal may be to attack a weak spot in the camp or to checkmate the opponent. Formation of a solid plan is vital in a game of chess.
Point countA way of determining the worth of the pieces by assigning them a numerical value. Typically the queen is worth 9 points, rooks 5 points, bishops 3 or 3.25 points (depending on who you talk to), knights 3 points and pawns 1 point. A higher point count denotes material superiority.
Poisoned pawnA pawn that, if captured, would cause serious disadvantage to the capturing side.
PositionThe arrangement of the pieces on the board at any given moment.
PositionalA move, series of moves, plan, or playing style concerned with exploiting small advantages.
Positional mistakeA mistake with no immediate tactical repercussions, but will lead to a disadvantage by surrendering control of critical squares, losing time or space, or creating a structural weakness.
Positional sacrificeA sacrifice that has no immediate tactical results, but will lead to a positional advantage.
PrematureA hasty move or series of moves or plan, or to act without enough preparation.
Prepared variationA very well researched opening variation, often strengthened by new moves. It is common for grandmasters to prepare certain opening lines before playing.
Problem childA blocked in queen bishop.
ProphylaxisA strategy explored by Nimzovich, where you prevent your opponent from taking action in a certain area for fear of reprisal. Overprotection is a form of prophylaxis.
PromotionWhen a pawn reaches the final rank, it can be turned into another piece (except a pawn or king), usually a queen. Also known as "Queening". See also "Underpromotion".
Protected passed pawnA passed pawn that is protected by another friendly pawn.
QueeningSee "Promotion".
QueensideThe half of the board from which the queen starts. The a, b, c and d files.
Quiet moveA move that neither captures anything, checks, or directly attacks an enemy piece.
RankA row of eight squares across the chessboard. In Algebraic Notation these are labelled 1 to 8, starting with the rank at White’s end of the board.
RatingA measure of a player's skill, calculated as a number using a generally accepted formula by an official organization. See "Elo rating".
RedeployTo manoeuvre a piece onto a more effective square, file or diagonal.
RefutationA move or series of moves that demonstrates a flaw in a game, move, plan, variation, or analysis.
ResignWhen a player sees his position is hopeless, and ends the game before checkmate.
RestrainControlling the enemy pieces in order to keep them from becoming active.
RiskA move or series of moves designed to gain an advantage but which has a chance of causing a disadvantage.
RomanticAn era when all players attacked and sacrificed. If a sacrifice was offered, it was considered cowardly not to take it. A romantic player is one who enjoys attacking and sacrificing.
Rook liftMoving a rook off the bank rank, and up a few squares, in order to slide it to a new file so it can help in the attack without being blocked by its own pawns.
Royal forkA fork between king and queen.
RunningRapidly transferring the king from one sector of the board to another in order to evade attack.
SacrificeVoluntarily offering material in exchange for a perceived favourable advantage other than the material.
Sans voirFrench "without seeing". Playing chess blindfolded.
Scholar’s mateCheckmate in the manner of 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Bc5 3. Qh5 Nf6 4. Qxf7*
ScopeThe number of squares to which a piece can move. See "Mobility".
Screened pieceThe piece which is guarded from attack in a pin.
SectorOne of three areas of the board, being the queenside, the centre, and the kingside.
Semi-open gameA position that contains some open and closed qualities.
SharpBold, aggressive moves or positions. A sharp player is a player who revels in dynamic, tactical situations.
ShotA strong move that was not expected.
SimplifyExchanging pieces in order to reach a winning endgame, neutralize your enemy's attack, or clarify the position.
Simultaneous playA player contesting a number of games against a number of players at the same time.
SkewerA tactic where an enemy piece is attacked and forced to move, exposing another enemy piece behind it to capture.
Smothered mateCheckmate by a knight, all squares adjacent to the king being blocked by its own pieces.
SoundA safe, solid position, or a correct plan or move.
SpaceThe amount of area of the chess board controlled by each side.
Space countA method of counting the squares controlled or attacked by each side's pieces (A square can be attacked more than once.) The player ahead in the space count has a spatial advantage, and thus more mobility.
SpeculativeA risky or unclear move or plan.
SqueezeExploiting a bind by the gradual build-up of pressure upon the enemy's position. This is done by creating more new threats until your opponent cannot meet them all.
StalemateA position is which the player who’s turn it is to move has no legal move but is not in check. A drawn game.
StrategyThe formation and execution of an overall plan.
StudyA make believe position that highlights tactical themes.
StylePreferring certain type of positions and moves. Typically opponents will have different styles (such as preferring open or closed types of positions), so both fight to determine the type of position that is reached.
Support pointA square that serves as a home for a pieces, usually a knight, because they can’t be driven away from it by a pawn.
SwindleA trick pulled from an inferior position.
SymmetryWhere both armies, or both sets of pawns, are identically placed on their respective sides of the board.
TacticsTraps, threats, and plans based on the calculation of combinations or variations. A position where many combinational ideas are present is a tactical position.
TempoA unit of time represented by a move. For example, forcing the opponent to move a piece twice in the opening can gain a tempo. Plural is "tempi".
TensionA position where pieces and/or pawns face off against each other without capturing. Such positions require precise calculation, and nerves of steel.
TerritorySee "Space".
TheoryKnown and played variations and positions in any phase of the game. Opening theory is also known as the "book."
ThreatA move or plan, that, if allowed, leads to immediate reduction of the enemy's position.
Three repeats ruleA game can be drawn when the same board layout occurs three times during a game.
Time1. The period allotted for playing the game. See "Time control".
2. Whether a particular action can be stopped ("He doesn't have time to create a defense against this attack.").
3. A measure of development. A development advantage is an advantage in time.
4. The rate at which an attack can be prosecuted or defended.
Time controlUsed to limit the length of a game. It is the time allotted to reach a certain number of moves. Most GM games are 40 moves in 2 hours, in which case a player forfeits the game if they have not played 40 moves in the first two hours.
Time pressureWhen one or both players has used most of their allotted time, and must make moves with little or no thinking. This should be avoided if possible, as it often leads to mistakes or game losing blunders.
TransitionChanging from one phase of the game into another; i.e. from the opening into the middlegame, or the middlegame into the endgame.
TranspositionReaching an identical position from a different sequence of moves.
TrapA hidden method of luring the opponent into making an error. The lure or bait must be just enough to entice, without making the opponent suspicious - pawns are usually used. Traps should only be laid if they fit into an overall strategy, so even if the trap fails your position is improved or at least maintained. Always assume an opponent will see the trap: simply playing for traps is bad strategy.
UnclearAn uncertain situation in which is it not apparent whether either side has an advantage.
UnderpromotionPromotion of a pawn to anything other than a queen.
Variation1. A line of play that is an alternative to the moves actually played.
2. One possible line of play calculated by a player prior to making a move.
ValueThe worth of a piece. Static value is the nominal value of a piece (see "Point count"). Dynamic value is the value of a piece in its current position, accounting for such factors as mobility, attacking strength, defending ability etc.
ValveA move which simultaneously opens one line of play while closing another.
WeaknessA pawn or square that is difficult to defend.
Weak squareSee "Hole".
WildExtremely unclear position or move, with almost unfathomable complications.
ZeitnotGerman "time trouble".
ZugzwangGerman "forced to move". A position where a player would prefer to pass his move (but of course cannot, as it is illegal) as any move damages his game.
ZwischenzugGerman "in-between move". An unexpected move tossed into an expected series of moves.


Published by ARK ANGLES