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Zugzwang

  • Last updated on 10/25/14, 11:31 PM.

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Pronounced "tsoog-tsvung", 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:

Comments


  • 3 years ago · Quote · #61

    Mr_ha

    That would be the most heartbreaking lose in the diagrams above. 

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #62

    Gm_andrewfeng

    GOOD!

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #63

    AnkitshahIT

    Nice Cool

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #64

    GrahamMc

    Trebuchet, a marvellous term

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #65

    GrahamMc

    Trebuchet, a marvellous termSmile

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #66

    checkmate008

    no one ill win in that game for sure. 

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #67

    xtremedes

    essential tactic
  • 3 years ago · Quote · #68

    lemlbgens

    This happened to me once! I lost soon after.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #69

    caniecane

    always something about chess that i didn't known

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #70

    Chessking47

    My definition of zugzwang is the disadvantage to move; all moves are losing, and not drawing. The double zugzwang doesn't appear very often, but it's always weird to find a double zugzwang.

     

    If you want to find a course with zugzwang, search around in Chess Mentor... I think the zugzwang is in some Knight vs. Bishop lesson.

     

    To keep zugzwang, don't give up your advantages, and do something on the other side of the board with doesn't effect the zugzwang. In this diagram, black is in zugzwang. As white to move loses for black and black to move draws.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    White to move will play moving by the side of his pawn, and black to move gets in front of the pawn, securing the draw. 

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #71

    navclyde

    nice

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #72

    MonkeyPawn

    Awesome!  Wow this is an old post!

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #73

    Chessking47

    It means that ALL MOVES ARE LOSING!

    i got in a zugzwang today! shut up, opponent for bragging! i said after the game.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #74

    Ineedphenylalanine

    That was short. It would have been better if more zugzwang examples were included.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #75

    D_Vinz

    Good tacticLaughing

  • 2 years ago · Quote · #76

    YouMayResign

    Draw.

  • 2 years ago · Quote · #77

    kirkland

    this is really important to know about chess. Recently I was caught in a Zugwang, however it was with 1 king an 1 pawn for both sides.

    I lost the game becuase of how I aproached the end game thanks for the knowledge  

  • 2 years ago · Quote · #78

    Pealan

    ketchuplover wrote:
    I believe it's pronounced tsutsung(or something like that

    No, beleave me, it's pronounced like announced "tsoog-tsvung".

  • 21 months ago · Quote · #79

    hjhjhjh88888

    COOL

  • 20 months ago · Quote · #80

    zltbchess

    nice

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