Thursday, March 4, 2010

War of words

"I tried to fianchetto, but his zwischenzug put me in zugzwang until he made a fingerfehler leaving his Queen en prise."

Conversation overheard at a chess club. It's not exactly in English, but then it's not quite in any other language either. If you want to blend in with the crowd, you'll have to learn to talk Chess.

En prise is an easy one; this French phrase means "in take," that is, undefended and subject to capture. If you leave a piece en prise, you have probably made a fingerfehler, or "slip of the finger"; the implication of this German word is that your hand acted without orders from the brain, and must take full responsibility.

Also from the German, come zwischenzug and zugzwang. The former means "in-between move": you capture one of your opponent's pawns, but rather than recapture at once, he takes your Queen "in between." Zugzwang is a bit more complicated. It translates as "move-compulsion," and refers to a situation in which a player loses only because he must make a move -- all the threats are defended, but a player may not "pass."

Fianchetto crept in from Italian, meaning "on the flank." This refers to a Bishop developed at g2 or b2 (or g7 or b7). Other Italian loan-words are Giuoco Piano ("quiet game"), an old opening, and (surprisingly) gambit, from a wrestling term meaning to trip up one's opponent.

And then there is Amaurosis schachistica, coined by Dr. Tarrasch. This pseudo-Latin term refers to a disease many suffer but few can cure: chess blindness.

Solution: Black's active Knights carry the day after 1. ... Qf3!. In view of the threat of mate on g2, White must capture, but after 2. gxf3 Nexf3+ 3. Kh1 Bh3, there is no defense to 4. ... Bg2 mate. Andruet-Spassky, Coblentz 1988.

No comments: