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chess (n.)

very ancient game of skill with 32 pieces, played by two on a checkered board of 64 squares, 13c., from Old French esches "chessmen," plural of eschec "game of chess, chessboard; checkmate" (see check (n.1)), from the key move of the game. Modern French distinguishes échec "check, blow, rebuff, defeat," from plural échecs "chess."

The original word for "chess" is Sanskrit chaturanga "four members of an army" -- elephants, horses, chariots, foot soldiers. This is preserved in Spanish ajedrez, from Arabic (al) shat-ranj, from Persian chatrang, from the Sanskrit word.

The chess pieces are the block alphabet which shapes thoughts; and these thoughts, although making a visual design on the chessboard, express their beauty abstractly, like a poem. [Marcel Duchamp, address to New York State Chess Association, Aug. 30, 1952]
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chess-board (n.)

"the board used in the game of chess" (same as a checker-board), also chessboard, mid-15c., from chess + board (n.1).

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chessmen (n.)

also chess-men, "the pieces used in the game of chess," late 15c., from chess + men. Related: chessman.

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Nimzo-Indian (adj.)

type of defensive opening in chess, 1935, in reference to Aron Nimzowitsch (1886-1935), Latvian-born Jewish chess genius who popularized a variation of the Indian defense (1884) attributed to Indian chess player Moheschunder Bannerjee.

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Ruy Lopez (n.)
type of chess opening, 1876, from Ruy López de Segura (fl. 1560), Spanish bishop and writer on chess, who developed it.
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endgame (n.)
also end-game, 1850, in chess, from end + game (n.). There is no formal or exact definition of it in chess, but it begins when most of the pieces have been cleared from the board.
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pawn (n.2)

"lowly chess piece, a piece of the lowest rank and value in chess," late 14c., poune, from Anglo-French poun, Old French peon, earlier pehon "a foot-soldier; a pawn at chess," from Medieval Latin pedonem "foot soldier," from Late Latin pedonem (nominative pedo) "one going on foot," from Latin pes (genitive pedis) "foot," from PIE root *ped- "foot." The chess sense was in Old French by 13c. Figurative use, of persons, is by 1580s, but Middle English had rook and pawn "high and low persons," thus "everyone."

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zugzwang (n.)
1904, in chess, from German Zugzwang, literally "move-compulsion," from Zug "move (in chess), a drawing, pulling, a stretch," from Old High German ziohan "to pull," from Proto-Germanic *teuhan, from PIE root *deuk- "to lead."
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en passant 
French, literally "in passing," from present participle of passer "to pass" (see pass (v.)). In reference to chess, first attested 1818.
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fianchetto (n.)
chess move, 1847, Italian, diminutive of fianco "flank (attack)," from Old French flanc "hip, side" (see flank (n.)).
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