Chess Terms


The game is going great, you are way up in material, and your opponent just blundered their queen. You happily take it, but it wasn’t a blunder after all. The game is over. It’s a draw—stalemate.

You were just swindled. It happens to everyone. Here is what you need to know about these tricks.

What Is A Swindle?

A swindle is when a player is losing a game and makes a tricky move that does not prevent the loss against correct play, but will save the position if the opponent doesn’t see the correct reply or replies. Getting swindled can turn a win into a draw or even a loss, so watch out!

Sometimes it can take several moves to set up a swindle. For instance, if your opponent starts pushing their pawns to get them captured or leave them without legal moves, they may be preparing a swindle based on stalemate.

Stalemate tricks are not the only type of swindle. Back-rank checkmates and perpetual check are also common.

Why Are Swindles Important?

The swindle is an important concept because it takes just one to completely change the result of a game. Be aware of the possibilities in the middlegame and especially the endgame. If you are losing, you should always be making things as difficult for your opponent as possible. If you are winning, you need to make sure you are shutting down your opponent. 

Pulling off a swindle is largely a matter of always being alert for opportunities. If you pull off a great swindle, you’ll be glad you didn’t resign. On the flip side, a good way to avoid being swindled is to stay out of time trouble. 

“The Swindle Of The Century”

Even the best players are not immune to being swindled. Perhaps the most famous game from the 1963/64 U.S. Championship, a tournament where GM Bobby Fischer scored 11/11 including a brilliant win over GM Robert Byrne, is actually the contest between GMs Larry Evans and Samuel Reshevsky.

Even if you become the victim of a swindle occasionally, take heart—grandmasters can suffer from them too!

Lessons In Swindles From

WGM “Nemsko” Zhou has produced a five-part lesson on called “How to Swindle Your Opponent!” 

Also don't miss GM Daniel Naroditsky’s exercise on swindles from “How to Be Lucky in Chess.”


Now you know what swindles are and hopefully have ideas on both how to avoid them when you are winning and how to pull them off when you are losing. Winning and won, or losing and lost, are not the same!

Head on over to our Chess Puzzles and practice your tactics! Tactical awareness will help you find and avoid swindling opportunities.

Explore More Chess Terms