Friday, December 4, 2009

Foreign Words in Chess

Chess has a number of foreign words that players can use to make the game sound sophisticated. It is not surprising because chess is played all around the world but is undoubtedly most popular in western countries. Nevertheless, it is believed that the game first originated in India. Many of the foreign words used are from European languages.

The word "fianchetto" is derived from Italian and means "little wing". If white places the bishop on b2 or g2 and black places the bishop on b7 or g7, this is a fianchetto. If the bishop gains full control of the diagonal, it can turn into a big advantage.

The world "luft" is derived from German and means "air". If one of the three pawns in front of the king is pushed forward one square, the king has a little breathing room. It prevents the threat of a back rank mate because the king has a square to escape to.

The word "en passant" is derived from French and means "in passing". Pawns can only move one square forward at a time but when they have not yet moved there is the two-square option. They may move forward either one or two squares. Unlike bishops, knights, rooks, queens and kings, they move differently from the way they capture. They move vertically down the chessboard but capture diagonally.

The en passant move is only possible when a pawn is on its original square and moves two squares. If white has a pawn on e2 and pushes it to e4, black can capture if there is a black pawn on d4 or f4. Black captures as if the white pawn had moved to e3. However, this move must be played immediately after white's move. The black pawn captures the white pawn in passing because it captures on a square behind the white pawn.

Chess is a game which uses a number of words from languages other than English. These include the words "fianchetto", "en passant" and "luft". They give the game of chess both a sophisticated and international flavour.

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