Etymology of Checkmate

The traces to the configuration of the chess games that one knows go back to India between the 6th and 7th centuries, difficult to assign a specific moment, appropriate and developed by the Arab peoples from their invasion of Persia, and then it would move towards Europe. In this way, the word Check is located in the Arabic shāh, compared to the Persian shāh, being identified as ‘king’, for his part Mate, is marked by the Arabic māt, based on the Persian māt.

The expression shāh māt, both in Arabic and Persian, refers to the ‘king being dead’. However, taking as reference the works of the American linguist Robert Barnhart (1933–2007), in the Barnhart’s Concise Dictionary of Etymology, first edition of 1995, p. 119 (based on the author’s original 1988 work), as verified by the writer of these lines, the original Persian message would convey that the king was ‘defenceless’ or ‘astonished’, which would have misinterpreted the Persian term mat, to which these meanings are associated with māt, which refers to ‘to die’, associated with the verb māta, for ‘to kill’.

Probably, this politically correct form existed, given the omnipresent and unquestionable figure of the king, but social practice is what ultimately shapes language, so one would have to think about the intention behind this supposed misinterpretation, for example, from the practice in small private groups and of course, the framework of the conquest of Persia, reigned by shāh Kaveh I (449-531), which would be interrupted after 43 years, as would be the end of his life.

Peculiarities of Spanish and Portuguese

In the Real Academia Española (RAE), which guides the Spanish norms, the term shāh appears as šāh, however, in old Spanish the spelling was given by xaque mate, and technically x works instead of sh; later the x would be altered by j, simplified in a phonetic matter, but which supposes an extensive debate based on a wide repertoire of cases, such as Mejico/Mexico, about a “correction” that was never bad to begin with, arisen with the Spanish conquest and the intrusion, why not, over the original language. Instead, for example, in Portuguese it was kept in its original form xeque mate.

Moves of the checkmate move

Checkmate is the decisive move with which the victory of one of the parties is declared, and it is made up of two instances. First, a player rules check as a direct threat to the opponent’s king, allowing the rival the possibility of an evasive move. But, if on the next move the king is in imminent danger again, it is not allowed a new attempt to escape the situation, exposing the checkmate, and that way, ending the game. This system demonstrates the importance of strategy in the development of chess, where the one who positions himself two steps ahead of the other wins, mastering the rules and thinking about the opponent’s moves.

Each piece has a particular purpose and displacement, for instance, the bishop can move diagonally across the board, while the pawn can only move forward. However, all the pieces have the ability to kill the king.

Search a Word