Skip to main content

What Is Zugzwang in Chess?

Learn what zugzwang means from Chess NYC in this Howcast video.


Hi, my name's Rebecca Taxman[SP] with Chess NYC. Today I'm gonna talk to you about Zugzwang. Zugzwang is actually a German word, but to boil it down, what is Zugzwang? Zugzwang is when you have to make a move and that move sucks. So, let's look at this basic end game position. It is white to move. We can notice that black is ready to promote its pawn and create a queen, but white only has one move.

That move is D2. After he goes to D2, the king steps up to F2, stopping the king from coming back to E1. The king has to move away and then black can now promote and become a queen. So, in short, white was put into Zugzwang by being forced to make a bad move, 'cuz it's the only move that white can make, allowing black to create, to promote into a black queen, and in short, that is Zugzwang, when you're forced to make a bad move.

Popular Categories