|Following is a glossary of chess terms first published by U. S. Master Eliot Hearst in his column "Chess Kaleidoscope" in the July 1962 issue of Chess Life magazine. This column made a deep impression on me at the time, particularly the definition of the term "opponent." There are many aspects to the enjoyment of chess ... humor is an important one for me. I hope you enjoy these "definitions" as much as I do. Of course, the reader should remember that these "definitions" were written many years ago when Descriptive Notation ruled in America and the standard opening reference was MCO (Modern Chess Openings). This material is copyrighted by the United States Chess Federation (USCF) and is reproduced with the permission of Glenn Petersen, editor of Chess Life, publication of the US Chess Federation. -- J. Franklin Campbell|
by U. S. Master Eliot Hearst
Adjudication: a binding decision about the outcome of an unfinished game, made by someone who is rated 200 points below you and who renders his judgment after spending a total time equal to only 5% of the time you devoted to the game.
Algebraic Chess Notation: a system of recording chess moves which is so logical and mathematically neat that it will never gain favor in the U.S.A.
Amateur: in chess, someone who plays only for money (cf: professional).
Annotator: a "friendly guide" to the complexities of master play, who first cites the MCO column for the game under review, then remains silent until white is a rook ahead, and , finally, points out how black could have held out longer; alternately, someone whose grasp of chess doesn't extend beyond his library on the openings.
Blindford Chess: a skill through which minor masters can gain a world-wide reputation; outlawed in Russia because Morphy and Pillsbury died crazy.
Blitz: an extreme form of rapid transit chess, where the players move faster than they can think -- thus ensuring the games a rare profundity.
Book-Player: a chess slave, who fills a relatively empty head with information that makes it even emptier.
Botvinnik: a Russian king, revered by communist society.
Brilliancy: a combinative sequence which is understandable to anyone once the solution is revealed.
Bye: in Swiss System tourneys, a full point given to an odd player.
Center: according to the hypermoderns, the squares QR1, KR1, KR8, QR8.
Champion: someone who has attained success in chess only because he has had more time to devote to the game than you have.
Cheapo: a phrase coined by U. S. Master Dr. Karl Burger, who has won a large percentage of his games by such a maneuver; a move which threatens something so obvious that only an idiot would fall for it, and he does.
Chess: a most intriguing intellectual challenge, played in a cultured manner according to strict rules and regulations. The object of the game is to crush your opponent.
Chess Fever: a disease common among adolescent members of the Manhattan Chess Club; characterized by jagged fingernails, bulging eyes, and an unsteady hand.
Clock, Chess: a mechanical device used to time tournament games which no one ever pays attention to until that little red marker is about to fall.
Club, Chess: a group of devotees of the Royal Game whose meetings are characterized by brotherhood and good sportsmanship and where never is heard an encouraging word.
Combination: any long series of moves that the average player cannot understand.
Connoisseur, Openings: an undiscriminating authority, who thinks one opening is better than another.
Correspondence Chess: a system of play which is gaining in popularity because you cannot lose USCF rating points in this sort of competition.
Draw, Grandmaster: a friendly conclusion due to mutual fear.
Duffer: anybody who can beat you three in a row.
Egotist, Chess: someone who is more interested in describing his own victories than in listening to yours.
Ethics, Chess: undefined (we could find no examples of this).
Euwe, Max: that Dutch master whose name I can't pronounce.
Fianchetto: an Italian method of developing bishops, popularized by Russians.
Fischer, Robert: an American chess veteran who has been U. S. Champion four times. His victims accuse him of bad manners; his conquerors think him a fine sport.
Fool's Mate: the logical conclusion to any game of chess.
Foresight: the ability to play in only those tournaments you are sure of winning.
Fork: "an instrument used chiefly for the purpose of putting dead animals into one's mouth" (A. Bierce).
Gambit: any unsound sacrifice in the opening.
Grandmaster: anyone who has reached the point in chess where he is acclaimed for drawing all him games.
Hypermodern Play: any opening system where an early checkmate is impossible.
Isolated Pawn: a pawn that will queen in the endgame (cf. passed pawn).
J'adoube: a phrase customarily emitted when you are caught starting your opponent's clock on your move.
Kibitzer: someone who gives good advice to your opponent and bad advice to you.
M.C.O.: Modern Chess Oblivion.
Median System: a way of breaking Swiss System ties which requires a knowledge of mathematical statistics and algebra, but which is much simpler than any other system.
Middlegame: in postal chess, the first move after published analysis is exhausted.
Opening: that phase of the game in which intelligence plays no part.
Open File: a file cleared of pawns - a worthy objective since it is then easy to exchange a pair of rooks and obtain an early draw.
Opponent: a slimy individual with an ugly face.
Open Tournament: a tournament open to all; a weak tournament.
Overprotection: first emphasized by the well-known theorist Nimzovich, this positional theme symbolizes Nimzo's relationship with his mother.
Passed Pawn: any pawn that never queens (cf. isolated pawn).
Pawn-Snatcher: a defensive genius.
Perfect Game: a way of describing all one's victories.
Principles of Chess: an archaic term; shown to be useless by Mikhail Tal.
Problem Chess: any chess position that could never occur in an actual game.
Professional Chessplayer: anybody who cannot make a living at chess (cf. amateur).
Rating System: an objective method of ranking chess players which does not take into consideration the inherent beauty of a rose.
Resigns: a way of terminating a game, unknown to weak players.
Round-Robin Tournament: a competition in which you cannot talk the tournament director out of pairing you with someone you are afraid of.
Sacrifice: any piece left en prise.
Simultaneous Exhibition: a demonstration of ego, where one individual seeks to display his chess prowess by beating 40 beginners simultaneously.
Sportsmanship, Good: concealed hatred for a victorious opponent.
Strategy: any idea longer than one move deep (cf. Tactics).
Swindle: the only way anyone can be defeated.
Swiss-System: a pairing system full of holes, like some other Swiss products.
Tactics: a one-move threat (cf. Strategy).
White: since recent Supreme Court decisions, not so big an advantage as it once was.
Win: to make an enemy.
Won Game: any game you lost.
Woodpusher: a way of describing one's chessplay so as to make opponents overconfident.
Zugzwang: there is no definition of this word.
Copyright © 1962, 1998 by U. S. Chess Federation
|"A Gentle Glossary" was first published by U. S. Master Eliot Hearst in his column "Chess Kaleidoscope" in the July 1962 issue of Chess Life magazine. As a follow-up some later chess definitions were published in his column. These definitions were submitted by his readers and are just as humorous as the original terms. I want to thank Steve Ryan for pointing this out to me and for providing many of the additional chess terms in this addendum. Readers should keep in mind the date this material was originally published in judging the quality of the humor. This material is copyrighted by the United States Chess Federation (USCF) and is reproduced with the permission of Glenn Petersen, editor of Chess Life, publication of the US Chess Federation. -- J. Franklin Campbell|
by U. S. Master Eliot Hearst
Analysis: Irrefutable proof that you could have won a game you lost.
Annotator: A grandmaster of cliches.
Benko: Owner of a very fast chess clock.
Bird's Opening: 1. P-KB4. Opening named after a strong but near-sighted English master who frequently reached for the wrong pawn.
Blunder: A move most likely to be found in a winning position.
Böök: An unpronouncable Finnish master who tenderly clings to his umlaut, for he would seem ridiculous declaring he invented the Book Variation.
Bye: The thin line that separates a patzer from a score of zero.
Castling: A defensive move played by a cowardly opponent.
Challengers' Tourney: A tournament to decide which Russian will play another Russian for the world championship.
Champion: Someone who has attained success in chess only because he has more time to devote to the game than you have.
Checkers: Chess pieces which check the King.
Checkmate: A self-inflicted torture by novices who don't know the word "resigns."
Chess: 1. "A nice and abstruse game in which two sets of puppets are moved in opposition to each other" (Samuel Johnson's Dictionary). 2. "The checkmate of the King, which is the purpose of the game, is the symbolic equivalent of the desire to kill ... the father" (Coriat).
Chess Life: A magazine that comes out once a month late.
Cramped Position: That which you must obtain as a necessary preliminary to freeing your game.
En Passant: First used by Napoleon in a game he was losing. When his opponent objected, play was continued across from the guillotine. Napolean won.
En Prise, to Leave: method of relieving oneself of extraneous material.
End Game: Your last opportunity to miss a win or a draw.
Ethics of Chess: 1. Undefined. 2. "Place your opponent so that the sun shines in his eyes" (Ruy Lopez).
Fish: A player who falls for all your traps and still wins.
Fool's Mate: A chess player's spouse.
Giuoco Piano: Playable, but not quite so good as a Steinway.
Good Bishop: The one you still have on the board.
J'adoube: French for "What am I doing? If I move that piece I'm lost!"
King's Indian Reversed: naidni sgnik.
Lost Game: Something your opponent had before he won.
Love: What female chess players discover they have been in after several consecutive tournament losses.
Marshall Counterattack: An agressive defense to the Ruy Lopez, devised by Frank J. Counterattack.
Master: Every chessplayer's secret appraisal of his abilities.
Modesty: 1. A virtue that grandmasters rarely cultivate. 2. "When I am white I win because I am White; when I am Black I win because I am Bogoljubov."
Patzer: An affectionate term applied to anyone you can beat; an insulting epithet when used by certain wiseacres to describe you.
Petrosian: See GRANDMASTER DRAW.
Philidor's Defense: Nimzovich found it too eccentric and Philidor never played it.
Pin: A sharp move. (this entry from ten-year-old Ken Howes).
Pin: A sharp move that sticks a piece in an immovable position.
Positional Chess: A style of play based on the principle that no attack will be initiated until the position of the pieces becomes too complicated to understand.
Positional Sacrifice: A move so profound that if the annotator isn't your friend he calls it a blunder.
Ruy Lopez: A Spanish bishop, usually placed on QN5.
Sammy Reshevsky: A fifty-year-old prodigy.
Seventh Rank: Discovered by Nimzovich.
Sicilian Defense: A defense originated by members of the Mafia, embodying their highest principles.
Skill: The expert manner in which your gifted hand guides your Knight through the air to remove the Queen your opponent has left en prise.
Tal: A temporarily disarmed nuclear device (Russian).
Tournament Committee: A carefully selected group with no particular responsibility.
Trap: Something you saw but forgot about until you fell into it.
USCF Rating: A numerical figure which describes the way you played chess a year ago.
Weekend Tourney: A tournament for which a player travels 300-500 miles in order to be paired with players from his home town.
Copyright © 1962, 1998 by U. S. Chess Federation
|Following is a glossary of chess terms inspired by the glossary first published by U. S. Master Eliot Hearst in his column "Chess Kaleidoscope" in the July 1962 issue of Chess Life magazine. These chess "definitions" were sent in response to a contest run in June-July 1998 at this web site. First is a list of the prize winners followed by a listing of all the entries I personally liked. -- J. Franklin Campbell|
Following is John Knudsen's announcement of his choices for the prize winning entries:
THIRD PLACE: Boboy J. Solero
SECOND PLACE: Alex Dunne
****************AND THE WINNER IS**********************
Edward D. Collins
Additional HONORABLE MENTIONS selected by J. Franklin Campbell:
Phillip Todd Yorks
Edward D. Collins
Bad Bishop -- Common excuse for a loss, e.g. "I would have beat him but I had the bad bishop!"
Blackmar-Diemar Gambit -- See Games at Odds.
Zugzwang -- When your opponent leaves the board without making his move and does not return.
(re: types of players)
And some definitions for un-postal chess:
Edward D. Collins
Boboy J. Solero