Russian legacy to chess

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
Niall Doran
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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Postby Niall Doran » Fri Jun 01, 2012 7:57 pm

John Foley wrote:
On an obverse point, are there any chess expressions in English which have become adopted as standard in any other language?


To answer the original question, there are no chess expressions (that I can think of) in French. I think that the theory that by the 19th century all the vocab was in place seems to hold.

Paul Cooksey

Re: Russian legacy to chess

Postby Paul Cooksey » Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:00 pm

Niall Doran wrote:To answer the original question, there are no chess expressions (that I can think of) in French. I think that the theory that by the 19th century all the vocab was in place seems to hold.
en passant, j'adoube comes to mind

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Postby Carl Hibbard » Mon Jun 04, 2012 6:49 pm

Carl Hibbard wrote:I don't have time to read this entire thread this morning but perhaps we all need to grow up a little and move onto matters new rather than what seems like a general argument?

I will have to come back and look at his one

I have returned to the thread and removed a few posts I considered that were generally off topic or adding little to the general more interesting discussion
Cheers
Carl Hibbard

E Michael White
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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Postby E Michael White » Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:57 pm

Niall Doran wrote:To answer the original question, there are no chess expressions (that I can think of) in French.

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Paul McKeown
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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Postby Paul McKeown » Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:57 pm

Zil lane seems to have become rather a commonly used English neologism of Russian origin recently, can't think why. It strikes me that one very important word of Russian origin has been ignored, bridge, the name of another mind sport. It is derived from a Russian version of whist, biritch.

Ola Winfridsson
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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Postby Ola Winfridsson » Mon Sep 17, 2012 8:33 pm

Niall Doran wrote:To answer the original question, there are no chess expressions (that I can think of) in French. I think that the theory that by the 19th century all the vocab was in place seems to hold.


Depends on the language! :lol: In other languages, the French word for draw, "remis", is used. For instance, in German and the Scandinavian languages (apart from j'adoube and en passant, which have already been mentioned). And in Swedish these days, the English 'Hedgehog' is very often seen instead of original Swedish name, 'Treraders' (= 'Three ranks [Defence]'). Also, the 'Dragadorf' is used for the Najdorf-Dragon Variation hybrid.

Ola Winfridsson
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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Postby Ola Winfridsson » Mon Sep 17, 2012 9:04 pm

John McKenna wrote:J. Foley >... On the obverse... Are there any (English) chess expressions which have become standard in any other languages?<
Exports to Russia -
bulletin (Shakmatny Byulletin)
candidates' tournament (turnir pretendentov - tourney of pretenders)
compensation for material (kompensatsiya za materialno)
championship (chempionat)
with attack/initiative (atakoi/initsiativoi)
centre, diagonal & line (sentr, diagonal & liniya)
flank (korolevski flang - king's side)
match (match)
&, not chess, station (voksal!?)


I'd suggest that Russian has received most of these from other languages than English, most likely French. Like 'bulletin', 'champion' and 'championat' are French words, 'flank' I'd have thought was a French word ('flanc'), but is also used in German ('Flanken Angriff' = 'flank attack'), and so is 'initiative' and 'attack' ('ataque'). However, 'match' is most definitely English. As for the expression, 'compensation for material', that's of Yugoslav origin :lol:

'centre' and 'line' ('linea') are originally Latin terms, and I'd considering the ancient military use of those terms, I'd say that's where all chess languages has received them from (probably via French or German). Considering how long geometry has been taught in Europe, I'd say that the Greek word 'diagonal' has entered chess languages via French or German.

The term 'compensation' itself comes from the Latin 'compensare' and I'd guess into chess via the insurance business, so quite likely Italian or French.

John McKenna
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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Postby John McKenna » Wed Sep 19, 2012 7:44 pm

Ola Winfridsson >I'd suggest that Russian has received most of these from other languages than English, most likely French... 'flank' I'd have thought was a French word ('flanc'), but is also used in German ('Flanken Angriff' = 'flank attack')... However, 'match' is most definitely English...<

This was discussed at the bottom of page 2 and the top of page 3 of this thread. I'd just add that the word 'flank' exists in both Old English and Old French and it's origin is in the Anglo-Saxon and Frankish languages, which both belong to the Germanic family.

The real question is - how and when did the 'loan words' that are obviously present in Russian chess literature make their appearance?

That is very difficult to answer.

For example, the Russian for chess is 'shakhmaty' and that is Persian in origin. So, did that word arrive with the game via the Caspian-Volga trade route, which in the 9th & 10th centuries reached as far as Baghdad? Or did it and the game arrive later by some other route?

The first published chess book in the Russian language, in 1791, was a translation of Benjamin Franklin's Morals of Chess (translated as - Pravila dlya Shashechnoi Igry). A copy of such a work might give a snapshot of the state of Russian chess terminology - with its foreign loan words - at the time and provide a basis for further meaningful discussion.

(Welcome back, by the way, I enjoyed reading some of your posts on here that were made before I joined.)
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

Ola Winfridsson
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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Postby Ola Winfridsson » Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:20 pm

John McKenna wrote:This was discussed at the bottom of page 2 and the top of page 3 of this thread. I'd just add that the word 'flank' exists in both Old English and Old French and it's origin is in the Anglo-Saxon and Frankish languages, which both belong to the Germanic family.


My apologies for going over old ground earlier ... :oops: I browsed the thread and only found a few terms discussed, so went through them all.

John McKenna wrote:The real question is - how and when did the 'loan words' that are obviously present in Russian chess literature make their appearance?

That is very difficult to answer.

For example, the Russian for chess is 'shakhmaty' and that is Persian in origin. So, did that word arrive with the game via the Caspian-Volga trade route, which in the 9th & 10th centuries reached as far as Baghdad? Or did it and the game arrive later by some other route?

The first published chess book in the Russian language, in 1791, was a translation of Benjamin Franklin's Morals of Chess (translated as - Pravila dlya Shashechnoi Igry). A copy of such a work might give a snapshot of the state of Russian chess terminology - with its foreign loan words - at the time and provide a basis for further meaningful discussion.


This is of course only too true, but we have to bear in mind that chess has developed greatly in the last 200-250 years or so, and this is also likely to be reflected in chess terminology and its close connection with military strategy and tactics, and its development. Considering the development of languages, very few terms, apart from the names of the pieces themselves (because they're most basic, cf numbers and words for natural features such as sun, moon etc.), are likely to have survived the introduction of the game in any particular culture or country. Furthermore, if we consider that chess had reached Europe, including Russia, by the year 1000 AD, it's highly unlikely that a term such as 'flank', would have been imported directly in its Anglo-Saxon form 'hlanc'.

The Persian influence is not limited to Russian, in all the Germanic languages the name of the game comes from the Persian word 'shah' (English 'chess', German 'schach', Danish 'skak', Norwegian 'sjakk', Swedish 'schack' etc.) rather than the original Sanskrit 'chaturanga' (and then later as 'shatranj' in Persian), which is the origin for the name of the game in Spanish ('ajedrez') and Portuguese ('xadrez').

If I were to hazard a guess, the main source of influence for Russian chess terminology would be German because of the great German and Jewish minorities in the cities of the Western part of the Russian Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries.

John McKenna wrote:(Welcome back, by the way, I enjoyed reading some of your posts on here that were made before I joined.

Thanks! I greatly enjoy the discussions here, although they tend to get side-tracked very easily ...

John McKenna
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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Postby John McKenna » Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:58 pm

You haven't lost your focus, I see.
The ever increasing pace of change in the last 500 years or so may blind us to aspects of the 'Dark' Ages.
Vikings used the Russian rivers to reach Baghdad by about 850 A.D. Known as 'Varagians', their prince Rurik (hence Rus) founded Holmgardr (Novgorod) in about 860. Russian for 'one' is 'odeen', I'd hazard that's from 'Odin'. Given the Viking's military prowess, Norse chess terms may have existed in Rus and may even have survived into modern Russian. Just a conjecture?
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

Ola Winfridsson
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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Postby Ola Winfridsson » Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:01 pm

John McKenna wrote:You haven't lost your focus, I see.


:lol:

John McKenna wrote:The ever increasing pace of change in the last 500 years or so may blind us to aspects of the 'Dark' Ages.
Vikings used the Russian rivers to reach Baghdad by about 850 A.D. Known as 'Varagians', their prince Rurik (hence Rus) founded Holmgardr (Novgorod) in about 860. Russian for 'one' is 'odeen', I'd hazard that's from 'Odin'. Given the Viking's military prowess, Norse chess terms may have existed in Rus and may even have survived into modern Russian. Just a conjecture?


The thing about the Viking military prowess is that it probably wasn't particularly ordered (in lines, flanks and centres etc.). After all they spawned the myth or reality of the mushroom chomping berserkers :wink:

No, but on a more serious note, at that time, chess was in its infancy, and a quick comparison between the terms for the pieces, I think shows a big difference between Swedish and Russian. The Russian terms are much closer to Persian (such as 'ферзь' for 'queen', which I believe stems from 'vezier', whereas Swedish has 'dam' ('lady', just like 'Dame' in German, rather than queen), and 'слон' (elephant) for the Bishop, where Swedish has 'löpare' (from German 'Leufer', literally 'runner').

Having said that, the terms for 'check' ('шах') and 'check mate' ('мат'), suggest they've been introduced via German ('Schach' and 'Schachmatt').

John McKenna
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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Postby John McKenna » Fri Sep 21, 2012 1:28 am

I'm beginning to have doubts about Odin/'odeen' as it seems less than 50 loan words of Scandinavian origin survive in Russian. DNA tests in the historical area concerned confirm a link to Swedish Vikings from north of Stockholm.
The names of the remaining chessmen: 'kon' (horse) and 'peshka' (footman) are Slavic, however, 'korol' (king) is Old High German stemming from Charlemagne. And, mysteriously, 'ladya' (rook) is a boat. Though not Swedish it seems linked to lake Ladoga - a Viking base in those times!?
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

Ola Winfridsson
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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Postby Ola Winfridsson » Fri Sep 21, 2012 11:07 pm

'Ladya', a very environmental connection in that case!

As regards the Russian word for 'one', I didn't mention that earlier, but I don't think there's any connection at all with Odin. I don't know of any language using the name of a god in this way. Numbers tend to stay original in most language, almost regardless of strong linguistic external influences. Having said that, I know that one of the languages in the Baltic region (can't remember which one now, or whether it was the language of a minority population or the national language) has taken over their numbers from Russian. Anyway, considering that one in Croat, Serbian and Polish is 'jedan' and 'jeden' in Czech, I think it's fairly safe to say that 'один' is a word of Slavic origin.

John McKenna
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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Postby John McKenna » Sat Sep 22, 2012 12:57 am

Thank you for pointing out 'jedan' and therefore the Slavic origin of 'odeen'. Just in passing - Odin was the One-eyed and in Hindu mythology Vishnu was known as The One ('eka' in Sanskrit) but had another 998 names!
As for 'ladya', I find it more than environmental. In chaturanga the rook was a war chariot, 'rath' in Sanskrit, and in Persian 'rukh' is the same thing. In Europe, it is a castle or tower. All appropriate military terminology of the day. In Russian it is a boat or ship - a Viking longship!?
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)


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