A Glossary of Basic Chess Variant Terms
- A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V -
We now have a variety of chess-variant terms that have been more or less accepted by the greater chess community. There are a number of others, however, that are still being tried and tested. Perhaps sometime within the next ten years, 100 or so terms will have gained the popularity they need to merit an official lexicon. This is how new terms become a part of a common language. The only problem that I have with this process is that we could use that lexicon now! It is for this reason that I have jumped the gun, so to speak, and assembled the following terms into a modest CV glossary. These terms include...
- Those commonly used on The Chess Variant Pages.
- Those used by D. B. Pritchard in The Encyclopedia of Chess Variants.
- Those used by Anthony Dickens in A Guide to Fairy Chess.
- Those used by Edward R. Brace in An Illustrated Dictionary of Chess.
- Those included to facilitate definitions taken from the above sources.
- Those included to satisfy an obvious need for completion.*
Please review this page and let me know if there are any terms that you object to or any key terms that
I might have overlooked. If we can agree on a basic nomenclature, we may encourage others to use it and perhaps
eliminate some of the ambiguity that plagues CV submissions. Please send your comments and recommendations to (email removed contact us for address) ssvariants.com.
*Two tables, A Table of Noun and Verb Forms and A Table of Opposites are provided as reference guides. They also serve to illustrate the degree of self-completeness and structural freedom offered by this set of terms.
oblique square - n. For a given piece, a square that cannot be
reached by via a radial move. [e.g.: a1-c2, a1-c3, a1-d3, a1-c4.]
(Compare radial square.)
Orthochess - n. The game of chess popularized during the Italian Renaissance. Orthochess is played on a 8x8 board with a King, a Queen, 2 Rooks, 2 Bishops, 2 Knights and 8 Pawns per side. (a.k.a.: orthodox chess, FIDE chess, orthodox chess, occidental chess, traditional chess, orthodox chess.)
orthodox chess - n. Another name for Orthochess. (Compare heterodox chess.)
orthogonal direction - n. Figuratively, the north, south, east and west directions considered collectively. (Compare diagonal direction.)
orthogonally adjacent squares - n. Squares that share a common side. (Compare diagonally adjacent squares.)
overtake - v. To capture a piece by leaping over it in the manner of a checker or draughtsman.
overtaker - n. A piece that captures by leaping over an enemy piece in the manner of a checker or draughtsman.
- P -
passive leap - n. A leap that may not be performed concurrently with a capture. (Compare capture leap.)
passive move - n. A move that may not be performed concurrently with a capture. (Compare capture move.)
passive piece - n. A piece that cannot capture.
passive square - n. With respect to a given piece, a square that may not be entered concurrently with a capture. [e.g.: The Pawn's straight-forward square.] (Compare capture square.)
pass-through square - n. A square that a line piece must pass through in order to proceed to subsequent squares. A piece may not stop nor capture on a pass-through square. [e.g.: The first diagonal square of the Xiangqi Elephant's move.]
perimeter - n. A locus of squares lying equidistant from a departure square.
The 1st perimeter - those 8 squares adjacent to the departure square.
The 2nd perimeter - those 16 squares lying just beyond the 1st perimeter.
The 3rd perimeter - those 24 squares lying just beyond the 2nd perimeter.
The 4th perimeter - those 32 squares lying just beyond the 3rd perimeter.
promoted piece - n. A more powerful piece that is created by promoting
a starting piece. (Compare starting piece.)
- R -
radial move - n. A move in either the orthogonal direction or the diagonal direction. [e.g.: The move of the Bishop, Rook or Queen.] (Compare oblique move.)
radial square - n. For a given piece, a square that can be reached by moving either orthogonally or diagonally. [e.g.: a1-a2, a1-a3, etc.; a1-b2, a1-c3, etc.; a1-b1, a1-c1, etc.] (Compare oblique square.)
range piece - n. A piece that captures by shooting rather than by displacement, overtaking or some other means. [e.g.: The pieces of Rifle Chess.]
range capture - (See shot.)
rank -n. A complete horizontal row of squares on a chess board. (Compare file.)
rearward diagonals - n. Figuratively, the southeast and southwest directions considered collectively. (Compare forward diagonals.)
reserve piece - n. An off-board piece that may be dropped onto the board to subsequently be used as one's own.
rider - n. A piece that serially repeats a single move in the same outward direction.
royal piece - n. A piece that must respond to being attacked as though it were a King subject to mate.
- S -
screen - n. A single intervening piece that a hopper must leap over in order to move/capture.
see - v. To be able to reach. [e.g. usage: A Bishop can see half of the board, whereas a Dabbaba can see only one-quarter.]
set - n. All of the pieces required to play a given game.
shogi - 1. n. A style of chess that allows drops. 2. n. The Japanese word for chess.
shoot - v. To capture without leaving the departure square.
shot - 1. n. A capture that is made without leaving the departure square. 2. v. The past tense of the verb shoot.
species - n. A class of pieces that share the same move properties.
standard move - n. A move to a standard square. (Compare passive move, capture move.)
standard square - n. With respect to a given piece, a square that may be entered (1) when it is vacant, or (2) when it is occupied by an enemy piece, which is captured. (Compare passive square, capture square.)
standard piece - n. A piece having only standard move options. [e.g.: Knight, Bishop, Rook, Queen, King.]
starting piece - n. A piece that is a part of the initial array. (Compare promoted piece, reserve piece.)
straight-forward - n. Figuratively, the due-north direction. (Compare straight-rearward.)
straight-rearward - n. Figuratively, the due-south direction. (Compare straight-forward.)
- T -
target square - n. A square within the capture zone of a range piece.
- U -
orthodox chess - n. Another name for Orthochess.
- V -
vertical direction - n. Figuratively, the north and south directions considered collectively. (Compare horizontal direction.)
|Noun||Verb - present tense||Verb - past tense|
|capture in passing||capture in passing||captured in passing|
|capture leap||leap to capture||leapt to capture|
|capture move||move to capture||moved to capture|
|custodial capture||capture custodially||captured custodially|
|oblique move||move obliquely||moved obliquely|
|passive leap||leap passively||leapt passively|
|passive move||move passively||moved passively|
|radial move||move radially||moved radially|
|adjacent square||distant square|
|arrival square||departure square|
|capture leap||passive leap|
|capture move||passive move|
|capture square||passive square|
|departure square||arrival square|
|diagonal direction||orthogonal direction|
|diagonally adjacent squares||orthogonally adjacent squares|
|distant square||adjacent square|
|drop piece||starting piece|
|enemy piece||friendly piece|
|forward diagonals||rearward diagonals|
|friendly piece||enemy piece|
|heterodox chess||orthodox chess|
|horizontal direction||vertical direction|
|leap passively||leap to capture|
|leap to capture||leap passively|
|move obliquely||move radially|
|move passively||move to capture|
|move radially||move obliquely|
|move to capture||move passively|
|oblique move||radial move|
|oblique square||radial square|
|orthodox chess||heterodox chess|
|orthogonal direction||diagonal direction|
|orthogonally adjacent squares||diagonally adjacent squares|
|passive leap||capture leap|
|passive move||capture move|
|passive square||capture square|
|promoted piece||starting piece|
|radial move||oblique move|
|radial square||oblique square|
|rearward diagonals||forward diagonals|
|reserve piece||starting piece|
|standard move||passive move or capture move|
|standard square||passive square or capture square|
|starting piece||reserve piece or promoted piece|
|vertical direction||horizontal direction|