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How can I identify Zugzwang opportunities, not only for myself, but for my opponent. Often times, I run into Zugzwang, whether it is for my benefit or not, by accident. Is this just a matter of looking at all the possible moves my opponent and I can make or is there more to it?

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I saw this one in one of my games 8/1p6/p1b2k2/P1np1P1p/1R1NpK2/7r/1PP5/8 b - - 0 36 hint: the letter from the abc at the number (6x3)/9 moves one step in direction 37min of the hand of a clock – ajax333221 Dec 27 '12 at 4:57
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Zugzwang positions happen naturally as you work to improve your own position by taking good moves away from your opponent. Eventually, when every move is bad (or useless), your opponent will be in Zugzwang. You'll probably find these positions more often in closed games. Tigran Petrosian was a master at balling his opponents up so they'd run out of moves.

Here's a recent thread where IMO Black is in zugzwang: Why did Black resign this game?

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There is a lot more to it!

Zugzwang lies in the "artistic" side of chess, and as such it requires lots of concentration and study of the position which is time consuming and not always there for us during a regular game. It often demands abrupt and shocking sacrifices so that we then "force" our opponent to make a one and only legal move. This is certainly much more than just looking at all possible moves, it requires lots of creativity, deep tactical and positional analysis and a little bit of arrogance that comes from the thought "How can I kill you right now?"

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I would like to add that Zugzwang is critical in endgame theory, for instance here this is a very important case of Zugzwang:

White to play loses the pawn, Black to play loses the game

Another example here:

The side to play loses

I explain the basics of zugzwang in my blog post here:

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