Glossary of Terms in the Laws of Chess

TermFirst ReferenceDefinition
adjourn8.1Instead of playing the game in one session it is temporarily halted and then continued at a later time.
algebraic notation8.1Recording the moves using a-h and 1-8 on the 8×8 board.
analyse11.3Where one or more players make moves on a board to try to determine what is the best continuation.
appeal11.10Normally a player has the right to appeal against a decision of the arbiter or organiser.
arbiterPrefaceThe person(s) responsible for ensuring that the rules of a competition are followed.
arbiter’s discretionN/AThere are approximately 39 instances in the Laws where the arbiter must use his/her judgement.
assistant8.1A person who may help the smooth running of the competition in various ways.
attack3.1A piece is said to attack an opponent’s piece if the player’s piece can make a capture on that square.
black2.1.1There are 16 dark-coloured pieces and 32 squares called black. Or 2. When capitalised, this also refers to the player of the black pieces.
blitzBA game where each player’s thinking time is 10 minutes or less.
board2.4Short for chessboard.
Bronstein mode6.3.2See delay mode
capture3.1Where a piece is moved from its square to a square occupied by an opponent’s piece, the latter is removed from the board. See also and In notation x.
castling3.8.2A move of the king towards a rook. See the article. In notation 0-0 kingside castling, 0-0-0 queenside castling.
cellphoneN/ASee mobile phone.
check3.9Where a king is attacked by one or more of the opponent’s pieces. In notation +.
checkmate1.2Where the king is attacked and cannot parry the threat. In notation ++ or #.
chessboard1.1The 8×8 grid as in 2.1.
chessclock6.1A clock with two time displays connected to each other.
chess setN/AThe 32 pieces on the chessboard.
Chess960IIA variant of chess where the back-row pieces are set up in one of the 960 distinguishable possible positions
claim6.8The player may make a claim to the arbiter under various circumstances.
clock6.1One of the two time displays.
completed move6.2.1Where a player has made his/her move and then pressed his/her clock.
contiguous area12.8An area touching but not actually part of the playing venue. For example, the area set aside for spectators.
cumulative (Fischer) modeN/AWhere a player receives an extra amount of time (often 30 seconds) prior to each move.
dead position5.2.2Where neither player can mate the opponent’s king with any series of legal moves.
default time6.7The specified time a player may be late without being forfeited.
delay (Bronstein) mode6.3.2Both players receive an allotted ‘main thinking time’. Each player also receives a ‘fixed extra time’ with every move. The countdown of the main thinking time only commences after the fixed extra time has expired. Provided the player presses his/her clock before the expiration of the fixed extra time, the main thinking time does not change, irrespective of the proportion of the fixed extra time used.
demonstration board6.12.1A display of the position on the board where the pieces are moved by hand.
diagonal2.4A straight line of squares of the same colour, running from one edge of the board to an adjacent edge.
disability6.2.6A condition, such as a physical or mental handicap, that results in partial or complete loss of a person’s ability to perform certain chess activities.
displaced7.4.1to put or take pieces from their usual place. For example, a pawn from a2 to a4.5; a rook partway between d1 and e1; a piece lying on its side; a piece knocked onto the floor.
draw5.2Where the game is concluded with neither side winning.
draw offer9.1.2Where a player may offer a draw to the opponent. This is indicated on the scoresheet with the symbol (=).
e-cigaretteN/ADevice containing a liquid that is vaporised and inhaled orally to simulate the act of smoking tobacco.
en passant3.7.4.1See that article for an explanation. In notation e.p.
exchange3.7.5.31. Where a pawn is promoted.
2. Where a player captures a piece of the same value as his/her own and this piece is recaptured.
3. Where one player has lost a rook and the other has lost a bishop or knight.
explanation11.9A player is entitled to have a Law explained.
fair play12.2.1Whether justice has been done has sometimes to be considered when an arbiter finds that the Laws are inadequate.
file2.4A vertical column of eight squares on the chessboard.
Fischer modeN/ASee cumulative mode
flag6.1The device that displays when a time period has expired.
flag-fall6.1Where the allotted time of a player has expired.
forfeit4.8.1To lose the right to make a claim or move. Or 2. To lose a game because of an infringement of the Laws.
handicapN/ASee disability
I adjustN/ASee j’adoube
illegal3.10.2A position or move that is impossible because of the Laws of Chess.
impairmentN/ASee disability
increment6.1An amount of time (from 2 to 60 seconds) added from the start before each move for the player. This can be in either delay or cumulative mode.
intervene12.7To involve oneself in something that is happening in order to affect the outcome.
j’adoube4.2Giving notice that the player wishes to adjust a piece, but does not necessarily intend to move it.
kingside3.8.1The vertical half of the board on which the king stands at the start of the game.
legal move3.10.1See the article for an explanation
made1.1A move is said to have been ‘made’ when the piece has been moved to its new square, the hand has quit the piece, and the captured piece, if any, has been removed from the board.
mateN/AAbbreviation of checkmate
minor pieceN/ABishop or knight
mobile phone11.3.2Cellphone
monitor6.12.1An electronic display of the position on the board.
move1.11. 40 moves in 90 minutes, refers to 40 moves by each player.
2. Having the move refers to the player’s right to play next.
3. White’s best move refers to the single move by White.
Move-counter6.10.2A device on a chessclock which may be used to record the number of times the clock has been pressed by each player.
normal meansG.III.5Playing in a positive manner to try to win; or, having a position such that there is a realistic chance of winning the game other than just flag-fall.
organiser8.3The person responsible for the venue, dates, prize money, invitations, format of the competition and so on.
over-the-boardIntroductionThe Laws cover only this type of chess, not internet, nor correspondence, and so on.
penalties12.3The arbiter may apply penalties as listed in 12.9 in ascending order of severity.
piece2.1One of the 32 figurines on the board. Or 2. A queen, rook, bishop or knight.
playing area11.2The place where the games of a competition are played.
playing venue11.2The only place to which the players have access during play.
points10Normally a player scores 1 point for a win, ½ point for a draw, 0 for a loss. An alternative is 3 for a win, 1 for a draw, 0 for a loss.
press the clock6.2.1The act of pushing the button or lever on a chess clock which stops the player’s clock and starts that of his/her opponent.
promotion3.7.5.3Where a pawn reaches the eighth rank and is replaced by a new queen, rook, bishop or knight of the same colour.
queenN/AAs in queen a pawn, meaning to promote a pawn to a queen.
queenside3.8.1The vertical half of the board on which the queen stands at the start of the game.
quickplay finishIIIThe last part of a game where a player must complete an unlimited number of moves in a finite time.
rank2.4A horizontal row of eight squares on the chessboard.
rapid chessAA game where each player’s thinking time is more than 10 minutes, but less than 60.
repetition9.2.11. A player may claim a draw if the same position occurs three times.
2. A game is drawn if the same position occurs five times.
resigns5.1.2Where a player gives up, rather than play on until mated.
rest rooms11.2Toilets, also the room set aside in World Championships where the players can relax.
result8.7Usually the result is 1-0, 0-1 or ½-½. In exceptional circumstances both players may lose (Article 11.8), or one score ½ and the other 0. For unplayed games the scores are indicated by +/- (White wins by forfeit), -/+ (Black wins by forfeit), -/- (Both players lose by forfeit).
regulations of an event6.7.1At various points in the Laws there are options. The regulations of an event must state which have been chosen.
sealed moveI.1.1Where a game is adjourned the player seals his/her next move in an envelope.
scoresheet8.1A paper sheet with spaces for writing the moves. This can also be electronic.
screen6.12.1An electronic display of the position on the board.
spectators11.4People other than arbiters or players viewing the games. This includes players after their games have been concluded.
standard chessIII.3.2A game where each player’s thinking time is at least 60 minutes.
stalemate5.2.1Where the player has no legal move and his/her king is not in check.
square of promotion3.7.5.1The square a pawn lands on when it reached the eighth rank.
supervise12.2.5Inspect or control.
time controlN/A1. The regulation about the time the player is allotted. For example, 40 moves in 90 minutes, all the moves in 30 minutes, plus 30 seconds cumulatively from move 1.
2. A player is said ‘to have reached the time control’, if, for example he/she has completed the 40 moves in less than 90 minutes.
time period8.6A part of the game where the players must complete a number of moves or all the moves in a certain time.
touch move4.3If a player touches a piece with the intention of moving it, He/She is obliged to move it.
vertical2.4The 8th rank is often thought as the highest area on a chessboard. Thus each file is referred to as ‘vertical’.
white2.21. There are 16 light-coloured pieces and 32 squares called white.
2. When capitalised, this also refers to the player of the white pieces.
zero tolerance6.7.1Where a player must arrive at the chessboard before the start of the session.
50-move rule9.3A player may claim a draw if the last 50 moves have been completed by each player without the movement of any pawn and without any capture.
75-move rule9.6.2The game is drawn if the last 75 moves have been completed by each player without the movement of any pawn and without any capture.