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Chess Terms

Chess Game Terminology. Terms to be used in the game of Chess

Advanced Pawn
A term used to describe a pawn, which has passed the centre of the board.

A player who has an advantageous position in a game.

Algebraic Notation
A form of notation using a combination of letters (a to h) and numbers (1 to 8) to denote the 64 squares on a chessboard.

Careful consideration of positioning on a chessboard.

Published commentary on a chess game.

Announced Mate
The loud proclamation of checkmate. Once a common practice it is now considered bad form and is now no longer permitted by the rules of the chess.

An umpire or referee equivalent whose job it is to enforce the rules of chess in tournament play.

An attacking move against an opponent’s piece.

Back rank mate
A checkmate by a queen or a rook on the first or eighth rank.

Backward pawn
A pawn which cannot be guarded by a pawn, or which cannot advance to such a position.

Bad Bishop
A situation whereby a bishop is hemmed in by pawns giving it limited mobility.

Bare King
A king that has none of its army left on the board.

Bishops of opposite color
Where each side has only one bishop left each traveling on squares of opposite color. This situation can often result in a drawn endgame.

Blindfold Chess
A game of chess played without sight of the board.

Another name for speed chess.

The blocking of pawns by an opponent’s pieces.

A very bad move. A typical excuse for a game one has lost is "He didn't outplay. I simply blundered". Such excuses are not considered good form

Often used to refer to theoretical opinion. A book move is one which is expected to be played based on chess literature.

Candidate move
One of a number of possible moves that may be played that can achieve something positive.

If the king and rook are still at their starting positions and all of the spaces between them are empty then the king can move two squares towards the rook and the rook can move to the space that the king has just moved over (all as one move).

Casual game
A non-tournament game.

The four squares in the very centre of the board.

A situation where the king is in a position whereby it can be taken. The game is lost if the king cannot be moved out of check.

Where the king cannot be moved out of check. A player who has his/her king in checkmate has lost the game.

Chess Clock
A clock used to time players’ moves in tournament play.

Connected pawns
Two or more pawns which are positioned in an adjacent file thereby protecting each other.

A player controls a square by occupying or by having more pieces that can occupy it with a single move than his opponent.

Correspondence Chess
A game played by post, telephone or email.

A diagram of positioning on a chessboard.

Discovered check
Check given by a piece that was previously blocked from the king by a piece from the same side.

Double attack
An attack against two opponent pieces simultaneously.

A game can end in a draw upon mutual agreement by both players or in accordance with a specific rule such as stalemate.

Drawn position
A position whereby a draw appears inevitable in the course of further play.

Encyclopedia of Chess Openings

The final stages of a game.

See Endgame.

En prise
A term used to describe a piece (other than the king) that is under attack.

A period of play where pieces from both sides are captured during the course of a few moves.

The row of squares from the first rank to the last.

Forced move
A move that must be taken by a player to avoid the capture of a piece or being placed in checkmate.

The sacrifice of a piece.

A title awarded by the World Chess Federation (FIDE) in recognition of a very strong chess player.

A square left unguarded by a player’s pawns.

International Arbiter
A referee at international chess events.

International Master
An internationally recognized chess player (ranked just below the title of Grandmaster).

Isolated pawn
A pawn left open to attack when there are no pawns from the same side on adjoining files.

A term used to announce a player’s intention to adjust the pieces without making a move.

An audience member at a chess tournament.

The squares to the left and right of the king’s starting position.

Laws of Chess
The official rules of the game as governed by the World Chess Federation (FIDE).

Legal move
A move made in accordance with the Laws of Chess.

A general term used for a rank, file or a diagonal.

A player has a majority when he/she has more pawns left than his/her opponent.

Major piece
A queen or a rook.

A title awarded by a National Federation.

Abbreviation of checkmate.

Any chess piece or pieces other than the king.

The part of the game between the opening and the endgame.

Minor piece
A bishop or a knight.

Minority attack
An attacking series of moves by a small number of pawns against a greater number.

A turn of play.

Used to describe various methods of recording moves.

A method of handicapping.

Open file
Any file that is not occupied by any pawns.

The first part of a game, usually consisting of known patterns of play.

Used to describe opposing kings during an endgame.

A hole in the enemy line up which is occupied by a minor piece.

Giving a piece more duties in a game then it can easily cope with.

Passed pawn
A pawn that has no enemy pawns ahead or parallel to it.

Perpetual check
A situation during the endgame where a player can place his/her opposition king in check indefinitely. This situation results in a draw.

Generally this term refers to a queen, rook, knight or bishop.

A term used to describe the layout of a chessboard at any given point during a game.

Positional play, opposed to tactical play, is the moving of pieces to an advantageous position.

When a pawn reaches the eighth rank it can be promoted to a knight, bishop, rook or queen.

The art of setting up a defense before an attack is launched.

A row of squares running horizontally.

A term used to describe the capture of an opponent’s piece straight after it has, itself, captured a piece.

To forfeit a game.

A move that gives up a piece in order to gain a positional or tactical advantage.
A move that gives up material in order to gain some positional or tactical advantage.

Score sheet
A sheet of paper used to record moves.

The reduction of pieces on the board through exchanges.

Informal non-tournament chess games.

A long-term plan of action.

Short-term plan of action – usually with specific goals.

A time measurement that relates specifically to chess. For example to waste a tempo could be to take two moves to reach a square that could have been reached in one.

A term used to imply orthodoxy.

Time limit
Tournament chess is usually played at specific rates of play.

A term used to describe reaching a position using an unorthodox method.

A situation whereby a player is lured into committing a piece, usually for short-term gain, but which actually puts him/her in a disadvantageous position.

A term used to describe a failed strategy or tactic.

Waiting Move
A move that does not achieve anything positive or negative for the player.

Winning the Exchange
A term used to describe a situation in which a minor piece is traded for a major piece.

A situation whereby all possible moves for a player will create a disadvantage.

A move played in response to a capture which is not a recapture, but which forces the opponent to make a reply which cannot avoid eventual capture.