Chess Terms
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Chess Terms

Chess Terms

Do you understand what chess players talk about? Maybe you need to learn their jargon ―you need to learn the most used chess terms.

We know you have read part one, about chess terminology, and asked yourself what has happened to the other terms you didn’t find.

They will be found in this article and, hopefully, when you are done reading them, you will be a Master at using chess terms.

Here are some of the chess terms you must know about:

Smothered Mate

This is a checkmate that is delivered by the knight. In this position, the opponent’s king is forced to be blockaded by its own pieces.

The following diagram illustrates how a smothered mate occurs:


This is when a position is studied and the best moves are determined for both sides. Now with the implication of chess engines, this can be done in seconds.

☉ Analyzing chess games could be considered as a special skill you want to get, after you learn to play chess. So, if you would like to analyze chess games, first of all, you need to learn How to Play Chess.

Chess Engine

A chess engine is a computer program that can be utilized for the following reasons:

  • To play with
  • Analyze games and positions
  • Detect cheaters

Current engines have reached a level where they are actually stronger than the strongest human player, that is Magnus Carlsen.

In the video lesson below, GM Igor Smirnov will teach you the deadliest chess opening trap. You will see how top grandmasters (in over-the-board games) were checkmated in about 10 moves:


This is a tactic that occurs when a player sacrifices pieces, typically pawns, in order to have long term gains.

The following is an example of a breakthrough:


A draw means there is no outright winner. In tournaments, both players will get half a point. A draw can either occur via stalemate, when players agree to it or when there is insufficient mating material on the board.


These are positions where both players have unique advantages. For example, White can have two rooks in good positions, while Black has a queen in a good position in the same game.

Imbalances can be spotted via the following:

  • Development
  • Space
  • Material
  • Pawn structure

The following diagram is an example of how Black manipulates space imbalances:

Greek Gift Sacrifice

A Greek Gift Sacrifice occurs when either White sacrifices a bishop by playing Bxh7+, or when Black sacrifices a bishop by playing …Bxh2+.

Both sacrifices only occur when the victim has castled kingside. The results of this sacrifice will see the player who sacrificed gaining something after a couple of moves.

The following is an example of a Greek Gift Sacrifice:


A combination is a sequence of moves that finds one side sacrificing material. Then the follow-up moves can result in either material gains, positional gains, or a checkmate.

The following diagram illustrates how a sacrifice occurs:


When a position is equalized, it means that an opponent would have found a combination of moves that transpose the position from a loss to a drawish position. This typically occurs when the opponent has blundered.


This is a term used to describe a knight, when it’s in a commanding position. Knights in their peak form can control eight squares. So, a knight that controls eight squares is typically referred to as an octopus.


Intermezzo simply means in-between move. This is when you play an unexpected move that will immediately threaten your opponent and force them to respond to it.

The following diagram illustrates how an intermezzo can occur:


Clearance is the removal of pieces from either a file, diagonal, or rank. This can occur mainly because of two reasons:

  1. To allow pieces to have attacking squares
  2. To remove attacked pieces out of danger.

Flight Square

This term defines a square that a seemingly trapped piece can use to escape danger. All pieces besides pawns can undergo the process of using a flight square.


In war, empires would normally use a flag as a sign of resignation. In chess, the term flag is used in situations where an opponent loses due to their time running out.


Consolidation occurs when an opponent attack fails and now you are managing to improve your piece’s positioning.


This refers to a piece or pieces which are not doing anything in the position. This can be due to bad positioning or because they are trapped.

The word “inactive” is also used by FIDE to represent players who have retired or haven’t played FIDE-rated tournaments for a while.


This is the name given to the chess governing body. Their primary focus is to connect national chess federations together.

☉ FIDE awards chess players with titles, when they get to master chess. You can learn about this on How to Master Chess.


This term has multiple meanings depending on the position on the board. The different meanings are:

  1. An X-ray can occur when you are indirectly attacking an enemy piece or pieces.
  2. It can also occur when a piece defends a friendly piece through an enemy piece.

The following diagram illustrates how an X-ray can occur via a piece defending a friendly piece through an enemy piece:


This term is used when two pieces combine to deliver checks on the opponent’s king. When a piece delivers a check, the king is forced to move into a position where it will get into a check again.

A windmill usually occurs with a rook and bishop as the two pieces. It can either lead to a gain in material or checkmate. The following diagram illustrates how a windmill occurs.

Sofia Rules

At some point, the draws by agreement became frustrating for viewers, commentators, and arbiters. So, a rule that stopped players from doing draws by agreement was implicated.

That rule is called Sofia rules, a rule that forces players to draw either by insufficient material, repetition, or through a stalemate.

☉ Chess could have many rules, but the ones you need to begin to play chess are not too much. Learn here the very basic chess rules.


This is the name of the current strongest chess engine in the world. This engine is stated to be rated 3600+, making it stronger than any human in the history of chess.

Dead Draw

This is a position where both players are in a position where they can’t realistically score a win. This can be due to the position being landlocked or due to insufficient material.


Most of these terms will be relevant when you are analyzing or discussing games with other chess players.

Some specific chess terms are names for chess tactics. You can find tons of them in Chess Tactics Galore.

Learning about and memorizing these terms can also help in case you get stuck in similar chess positions. Then you will quickly know how to evade those positions or how to encounter them.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want GM Igor Smirnov to help you get better at chess, watch this Masterclass.

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