• Last updated on 10/30/15, 5:26 AM.

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Zugzwang an intermediate move 


Pronounced "tsoog-tsvung", 

Zugzwang (German for "compulsion to move", pronounced [ˈtsuːktsvaŋ]) is a situation found in chess and other games wherein one player is put at a disadvantage because they must make a move when they would prefer to pass and not move. The fact that the player is compelled to move means that his position will become significantly weaker. A player is said to be "in zugzwang" when any possible move will worsen his position.[1]Zugzwang is a German word meaning "obligation to move".  The term is used for a position in which whoever has the move would obtain a worse result than if it were the opponent’s turn to play. A player is said to be "in zugzwang" when any possible move will worsen his position.[1]


The term is also used in combinatorial game theory, where it means that it directly changes the outcome of the game from a win to a loss, but the term is used less precisely in games such as chess.[2][3] Putting the opponent in zugzwang is a common way to help the superior side win a game, and in some cases, it is necessary in order to make the win possible.[4]  


The term "zugzwang" was used in German chess literature in 1858 or earlier,[5] and the first known use of the term in English was by World Champion Emanuel Lasker in 1905.[6] The concept of zugzwang was known to players many centuries before the term was coined, appearing in an endgame study published in 1604 by Alessandro Salvio, one of the first writers on the game, and in shatranj studies dating back to the early 9th century, over 1000 years before the first known use of the term. Below is the Immortal Zugzwang game, where in the final position, any move Black makes, loses quickly.


Whoever is to move in the following diagram IMMEDIATELY loses. This is because they must not only cease attacking the opponent's pawn, but must give up defense of their own! This situation is refferd to as a 'trebuchet'. Zugzwangs are very rare in normal chess games!


White to move:



Black to move:








  • 8 years ago · Quote · #1


    Very interesting
  • 8 years ago · Quote · #2


    One must be very good player to do such things.


  • 8 years ago · Quote · #3


    The pressure is mostly on white.
  • 8 years ago · Quote · #4


    It was a nice one



  • 8 years ago · Quote · #5


    Thanks for posting that. What a great game to review.
  • 8 years ago · Quote · #6


    cool article and game.  not sure what he means by a 'ghost' though.
  • 8 years ago · Quote · #7


    good game burt it isn't an easy one !!!!!!!!!!
  • 8 years ago · Quote · #8


    I have a lot to learn...
    Very interesting, thanks for posting!
  • 8 years ago · Quote · #9


    wow ! tat's fantastic.......
  • 8 years ago · Quote · #10


    it is avery perfect game

  • 8 years ago · Quote · #11



  • 8 years ago · Quote · #12


    whats wrong with f3?
  • 8 years ago · Quote · #13


  • 7 years ago · Quote · #14


    White is in two zugzwangs. The copy strategy zugzwang(zugzwang lite) can be broken, the extra information zugzwang, not so much.

  • 7 years ago · Quote · #15


    nimzovish is one of the most good at playing zugzwang.

    he always plays it when he is black. thats why he's my favorite GM.

    If he didnt die at 1874 he would be the best player ever.

  • 7 years ago · Quote · #16


    I mean 1974.

  • 7 years ago · Quote · #17


    I used this against an opponent, but somehow he fooled me with his queen. I don't know how he did it, though.

  • 7 years ago · Quote · #18


    exactly..! it means  " no move "

  • 7 years ago · Quote · #19



  • 7 years ago · Quote · #20


    I'm good at does when I am in the end of the game which makes me a trong player.

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