This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Word To Use Today: zugzwang.

Zugzwang is chess term, but it's such a charming word it's a pity it doesn't get out more.

File:Chess Large.JPG
photo by Jyothis

Zugzwang is German, so you have to say both the Zs as tss. And the U sort of halfway between an oo sound and the the u in put. And the g as in get. And the w like the v s in involved.

Gosh, it's complicated, isn't it. Perhaps that's why the word has been left languishing for so long in the dim world of chess. 

Anyway, now we've finally worked out how to say it, what does it actually mean?

Zugzwang is when the only moves a player can make will lead to serious loss or disadvantage (in chess you are forced to move when it's your turn.)

There are, sadly, lots of possible applications of this word in politics, and also many in business and family life. 

Being able to say He's got me in a complete zugzwang might help a bit, though, mightn't it?

Word To Use Today: zugzwang. This, as I've said, is German. Zug means a pull or a tug, and Zwang means force or compulsion. If I were using it in English in a non-chess context I probably wouldn't bother with making the first Z a capital letter, as the Germans do.

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