That’s the Word for It : Zugzwang


Zugzwang is a situation usually found in chess where one player is put at a disadvantage because they must make a move when they would prefer to pass and not move. It’s a weak position but helps the other side to win. I found the word on Twitter in the Brexit context.

Here are some instances of this word in literature:

Zugzwang. It’s when you have no good moves. But you still have to move.”
― Michael Chabon

“Who’s straight? I’m not. I am bent gouged pinched and tugged at, and squeezed into this funny shape. Each life is a game of chess that went to hell on the seventh move, and now the flukey play is cramped and slow, a dream of constraint and cross-purpose, with each move forced, all pieces pinned and skewered and zugzwanged… But here and there we see these figures who appear to run on the true lines, and they are terrible examples. They’re rich, usually.”
― Martin Amis, Money

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