Chess Terminology – Big Dave's Crossword Blog

Chess Terminology


Chess Terminology

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

A list of some of the abbreviations and terms used in chess, with emphasis on those that might, from time to time, appear in crosswords. The terms found most frequently are the notation for chess pieces – B, K, N, P, Q and R.

This is not intended as a guide to the rules of chess

Abbreviation Meaning
B Bishop
ch. Check
e.p. En passant
K King
Kt Knight (obsolete notation)
mate checkmate
N Knight
O-O Castle King’s side
O-O-O Castle Queen’s side
P Pawn
Q Queen
R Rook (sometimes called castle)


Term Definition
Board A slab prepared with a chequered pattern for playing chess
Castling A simultaneous move (the only one in chess) whereby a previously unmoved King moves 2 squares toward an unmoved Rook and the Rook is moved to the other side of the King.
Check A move which attacks the opposing King.
Checkmate A move which attacks the opposing King, and which the opponent cannot get out of.
Chessboard See Board
Defence An opening played by Black, or a series of moves taken to protect a piece or position which is under attack.
Discovered check A check given by a line-piece when a shielding piece or pawn is moved out of the way.
Endgame The stage of the game with few pieces or when Queens are exchanged and the middle game is over.
En passant A special method of capturing, only available to a pawn on its fifth rank.
File The eight vertical columns on the board, numbered a to h.
Fork A double attack when one piece, such as a Knight, attacks two or three pieces at once.
Gambit A chess opening in which a player offers a pawn (or more) for fast development and an attack
J’adoube Said to indicate an intention only to adjust a piece on the board without necessarily moving it to a different square.  [j’adoube – I adjust]
Major piece Queen or Rook.
Man See Piece
Match A series of games.
Middlegame The part of the game which follows the opening.
Minor piece Bishop or Knight.
Notation The method of writing down chess, moves which involves rank and file and piece:
Opening The start of the game, about a dozen moves.
Piece Any piece or man, sometimes excluding pawns
Pin When a piece does not move because to do so would expose a more valuable piece to capture.
Promotion Promotion is what happens when a pawn reaches the other side of the board (that is, the 8th rank) and cannot move further. Then it becomes any other piece on the board, except the king.  Players usually promote their pawns to a Queen (called Queening)
Queening see Promotion
Rank The eight horizontal rows on the board, labelled 1 to 8.
Resign To concede loss of the game. A resignation is usually done by knocking over one’s King, stopping the clock, offering a handshake or saying “I resign”.
Repetition see Threefold Repetition
Sacrifice The intentional loss of material to get a more important result.
Stalemate Where a player is not in check, but has no legal moves. It is a draw in modern chess.
Threefold Repetition A player can claim a draw if the same position occurs three times, or will occur after their next move, with the same player to move. The repeated positions do not need to occur in succession.
Zugzwang A position, usually in an ending, where the player to move loses because they must move.

Created: 18 Jul 2018

Updated: 09 Aug 2020

^ Back to top of page ^

<< The Mine