Questions about the particular terminology used in chess

Given its long history, and the geographic diversity that accompanied many of the big developments in the game, chess enjoys a rich tapestry of interesting terminology coming from various languages. A few examples:

  • The term "checkmate" comes from the Persian phrase "Shāh Māt," meaning literally "the king is helpless."

  • The French term "en passant" means "in passing," and is used to refer to the capture of a pawn which has just advanced two squares by another pawn that sits beside it on an adjacent square.

  • The term "gambit" derives from the Italian "dare il gambetto," which translates roughly as "to stick out one's leg to trip someone."

  • The German words "Zugzwang" (meaning "compulsion to move") and "Zwischenzug" ("in-between move") are in common usage.

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