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Chess PiecesChess History • Chess Glossary

outdoor chess game on park bench Here is a glossary of some common terms used in chess.
Check
A piece that attacks the king is said to "put it in check."  The word "check" is called out one move before the king can possibly be captured.
Checkmate
When the king is captured by a piece.
Diagonal
A line of squares running across the board, across which both the queen and the bishop can move.
Double attack
When one piece attacks two pieces at the same time.
Endgame
The third phase of the game, when there are just a few pieces on the board.
En passant
When a pawn moves two squares forward from its starting position, an opposing pawn located immediately to its right or left may capture it by moving one square diagonally forward, to the square directly behind it.
En prise
A piece that is attacked but isn't defended.
Exchange
When pieces of equal value are traded off the board.
File
A line of eight squares running up the board.
Grandmaster
The highest title in chess next to World Champion.
Kingside
The half of the board on which the king stands at the beginning of the game.
Middlegame
The second of the three phases of the game, when the battle is in full force.
Opening
The first phase of the game.
Queenside
The half of the board on which the queen stands at the commencement of the game.
Rank
The row of squares that run across the board, denoted by the numbers 1 to 8.
Resignation
When a player, faced with inevitable defeat, gives up the game before checkmate.
Sacrifice
When a piece is given up in order to gain some long-term advantage.
Stalemate
When the player whose turn it is to move cannot do so, but is not in check.  The game ends in a draw.

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Chess Glossary - Chess Terms