Monday, September 24, 2007

Rook's Rudimentary Resources - Correct Pronunciation of Chess Words

If you are new to chess you will start building a new vocabulary pretty quickly consisting not only of new terms but also names of famous chess players. Don't get in the bad habit of mispronouncing these words - learn how to pronounce them correctly from the start.

Fortunately there are some good resources to help you with correct pronunciation. For the more common chess terms you can visit the Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary site. At their site you can listen to correct pronunciation (and definitions of course) for the following chess terms:

  • en passant
  • en prise
  • j'adoube

Correctly pronouncing the names of famous players presents a slightly more difficult problem - this is especially true when you hear players talk about chess openings. Here's a sampling:

  • Alekhine - pronounced ahl-Yeck-een
  • Giuoco Piano - pronounced Joke-o Pee-Ah-no
  • Najdorf - pronounced NIGH-dorf
  • Pirc - pronounced Peerts

For an exhaustive list see Pronounce that Chess Word by Bill Wall

And these last two are just plain fun to say:

  • Zugzwang (TSOOKS-vahng) position in which the move makes a worse result
  • Zwischenzug (TSVEYE-shun-tsook) in-between move

Finally, we have this excerpt of a poem from the Edinburgh University Chess Club:

A rather funny poem appeared in Chess Review in 1949 entitled "Pronunciation." Some excerpts:

Oh! she is the Tarrasch
Of this parish.
Is her
and Ragozin
is her cousin.

Will she, will she
Always Flohr me?
Will she never Phil-adore
Will she never
Care a damn bit
For my Center

I will have to pull my neck in
For she dotes upon Alekhin.
I will have
to pull my oar in
For she dotes upon Tchigorin!

Yes --
An' what of

The full text may be found in "The Treasury of Chess Lore" by Fred Reinfeld.

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