- November 18, 2013
- Posted by: Madrigal Admin
- Category: Word of the Week Blog
In the dictionary between zounds and zulu you may find zugzwang. It is a recent migrant from German and has not quite made it into all English language dictionaries. However it is a very useful word and I am certainly ready to embrace it. It has a spelling that would makes Scrabble players squirm with delight (but with two Zeds and two Gees it might be close to impossible to use).
Zugzwang is a chess term for compulsion to move. It describes a situation where a player is forced to weaken their position by making an undesirable or disadvantageous move. In chess there is no option to pass or not move.
It comes from the German words Zug, meaning to pull or move and Zwang meaning compulsion.
Arthur Bisguir, a chess Grandmaster, described the word:
Zugzwang is like getting trapped on a safety island in the middle of a highway when a thunderstorm starts. You don’t want to move but you have to.
About Arthur Bernard Bisguier
Arthur Bernard Bisguier was born in the Bronx on 8 October 1929.
from World Chess Hall of Fame …
“Proclaimed “Dean of American Chess” by the U.S. Chess Federation, Bisguier was a tireless promoter of the game. He likely played more people than any other U.S. grandmaster, giving exhibitions at hospitals, colleges, prisons, and other locations around the country in the interest of popularizing the game. Bisguier was both a regular contributor to Chess Life and a published author. His books include 1974’s American Chess Masters from Morphy to Fischer (written with Andrew Soltis); 2003’s The Art of Bisguier, The Early Years: 1945-1960 (written with Newton Berry); and 2008’s The Art of Bisguier: Selected Games 1961-2003(written with Newton Berry and featuring a forward by Lev Alburt).”
He was a dominant tournament chess player in the US in the 1950s. Bisguier became U.S. champion in 1954 and U.S. Open champion in 1950, 1956 and 1959.