Vocabulary list: Chess in Japanese

By | March 24, 2016

Though I really enjoy studying Japanese, it’s that much better when I can combine Japanese with one of my other hobbies, like Legos or fiction novels. Another one of my hobbies is Chess, and lately I’ve been noticing a lack in my vocabulary when trying to express some of the basic chess concepts to my son, who is beginning to show interest in the game.

Although the basic piece names (ルーク, etc.) and some of the board Notation (C3, etc.) are expressed based on loanwords derived from English,  when you get into the details there is alot of interesting words to learn which can be applied to more than just chess.

As with my other vocabulary lists, I will be focusing on words that I have a good understanding of and possibly have used in my own speech, as opposed to just putting any random words down that are related to Chess.

  • チェス: Chess
  • チェス盤 (chesu ban): Chess board
  • 番 (ban): player’s turn (ex: 僕の番 = “It’s my turn”)
  • 試合 (shiai): match/game
  • 入門: an introduction, primer, guide  (ex: チェス入門)  [sometimes called ガイド]
  • ルール: rules (how to play the game)
  • 駒 (koma): piece (of chess of another similar game)    [sometimes called ピース]
  • 手 (te): a chess move  [also used to count number of movies, for example 10手 (juute) = 10 moves]
  • クロ: player playing with black pieces
  • シロ: player playing with white pieces
  • とる (toru): to capture a piece
  • とりかえす (torikaesu): to re-capture a piece (which has just taken another piece)
  • 展開する (tenkai suru): to develop a piece
  • ビショップ: Bishop
  • ルーク: Rook
  • ポーン: Pawn
  • ナイト: Night
  • キング: King
  • クイーン: Queen
  • チェック: “check” (said when you attack the opponent’s king)
  • チェックメート: “checkmate” (said when you attack the opponent’s king and they have no defense and you have won)
  • 交換 (koukan): exchange (pieces) [can be used with する to act as a verb]
  • (駒が)動く (ugoku): to move (a piece) [intransive]
  • (駒を)動かす (ugokasu): to move (a piece) [transitive]
  • アンパサン: en passant (capturing a pawn that has just moved with another pawn)
  • プロモーション(also 昇格): promotion of a pawn to another piece (queen, etc.)
  • キャスリング: Castling (swapping rook and king on either side of the board)
  • 圧力をかける (atsuryoku wo kakeru): To apply pressure (to an area of the board)
  • マス (also written as 升): square on the board (count with 1マス (hitomasu), 2マス (futamasu), etc.)
  • 一歩 (ippo): one step (i.e. referring to the fact the king can only move one step/square at a time)
  • 配置 (haichi): arrangement (of pieces on the board, etc.)
  • 並べる (naraberu): to line up (pieces on a board, etc.)
  • 空間 (kuukan): space (as in dominating space in the center of the board, etc.)
  • 支配する (shihai suru): to dominate
  • 局面 (kyokumen): the overall position or state of the board
  • 序盤 (joban): early game
  • 中盤 (chuuban): middle game
  • 終盤 (shuuban): endgame
  • 攻撃 (kougeki): attack [also used as a verb with する]
  • 反撃 (hangeki): counter attack [also used as a verb with する]
  • 棋譜 (kifu): record of a game (of chess, go, etc.)
  • 解説 (kaisetsu): commentary (of a game, etc.)  [also used as a verb with する]
  • 選手権 (senshuken): championship, title (used for chess and other sports)
  • 戦略 (senryaku): strategy
  • 戦術 (senjutsu): tactics


If you want to learn more, here are two links with chess in Japanese and a good video discussing basic principles using a historical game.




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2 thoughts on “Vocabulary list: Chess in Japanese

  1. Erica

    This is one of my favorite games as well! I played this often with my little brother when I was younger, and we still go at it sometimes with this quartz chess/checkers set my parents bought in Kentucky. It’s old, and half the pieces are being held together with tape or glue, but I’m definitely going to be using these words the next time I play. Thanks for posting this!


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