Today’s collection of 10 Chess Terms are as follows…
When looking at the chessboard, you can visualize it in terms of Zones, rather than a mass of 64 squares.
If you imagine the board being split in half, from top to bottom, the Kingside includes all 32 squares on the right-hand side. It’s called the “Kingside” because that’s the half where both player’s Kings start each game of Chess.
For precisely the same reasons, the opposite side of 32 squares is referred to as the Queenside.
#2 Long Diagonal
There are two Long Diagonals on the chessboard and they each run from one respective corner to the other.
Using Algebraic Chess Notation, one of the Long Diagonals runs from a1-h8 (that is, from the square referenced as ‘a1’, diagonally up to the ‘h8’ square). The other Long Diagonal runs from a8-h1.
The majority of chess games can be split into three distinct sections, or phases. After the Opening phase, when the players develop their Pawns and Pieces, comes the Middlegame phase, which is when the main battle takes place. Finally, there’s the Endgame phase, which is the final stage of the game, which leads either to Checkmate (a Win/Loss) or Stalemate (a Draw).
This refers to a type of chess game between a strong player and a significantly weaker player. The stronger player will be given a handicap of some description – could be less time to complete their moves; or removal of material.
For instance, a game played with “Queen Odds” means the stronger player will have to do battle without their Queen (that’s their handicap), while the weaker player gets to play with their full army. “Knight Odds”, “Bishop Odds”, etc. all work under the same principle.
This is the name of the least maneuverable unit on the board. Each player gets 8 Pawns at the start of a game of chess.
Pawns can only move forwards; they cannot move backwards, or step left or right. Only when capturing can they change direction slightly, as Pawns capture diagonally, one square forwards, to the left or right.
It’s tempting, to dismiss Pawns as being weak and unworthy of respect. However, while they may be vulnerable to attack from behind, Pawns have a hidden strength in their ability to restrict an opponent’s space and, when they work together, they can prevent an enemy Piece from landing on a critical square.
Pawns also have a special trick: “Pawn Promotion”. When a Pawn manages to land on any square on the enemy’s Back-rank, they can be exchanged for either a Knight, Bishop, Rook, or a Queen.
From the least maneuverable to the most maneuverable…
The Queen can move in any direction and, providing her path is clear, she can move from one side of the board, to the other, in a single turn.
Ironically, her power can also become her weakness. Because the Queen is the single most-valuable unit on the board, less-valuable Pawns and Pieces working together can bully the Queen away.
A player can be so obsessed with protecting their Queen, that their opponent manages to steal a lead in development, which can prove decisive during the later stages of the game.
#7 Relative Pin
A Pin is a Chess Tactic. It involves attacking a less-valuable enemy Pawn or Piece, which happens to be sitting in front of a more-valuable Piece.
Basically, the less-valuable Pawn or Piece is either unable or unwilling to move out of danger, as it must remain, “Pinned” in place, protecting their more-valuable comrade.
A Relative Pin attack is one where the more valuable Piece, behind, is either a Knight, Bishop, Rook, or Queen, but NOT the enemy King.
Often confused with Strategies, but there are distinct differences.
Tactics are maneuvers that take advantage of short-term opportunities. A good example is the Pin attack, where a player spots the short-term position of a less-valuable enemy Pawn or Piece, which is sitting in front of a more-valuable Piece.
The player takes advantage of this position, by Pinning the less-valuable unit, in order to prevent it from moving. The player will then be able to benefit, either by capturing other material, or by being able to move another Pawn or Piece to a critical square, which supports their plans.
Strategies give you an idea of what to do over the long-term duration of the game.
Promotion occurs when a player manages to get one of their Pawns to a square on the enemy’s Back-rank. At that point, because Pawns cannot move backwards, they’re rewarded with the choice of becoming either a Knight, Bishop, Rook, or Queen.
Promotion usually results in a Pawn being substituted for a Queen.
Underpromotion is when a player chooses to replace the Pawn with a Knight, Bishop, or Rook.
Refers to an Opening sequence which is different from the Main Line.
The Main Line is the Opening sequence which is most commonly played. If a player chooses a different move, anywhere in the sequence, it no longer remains the Main Line, but a “Variation”.
And that concludes this collection (#2) of 10 Chess Glossary terms.