I have a bit of an unpopular opinion: I hate chess.
It's boring. It's limiting. I don't want to think a thousand moves ahead when I can barely keep track of what all the little guys even do. I would much rather play checkers. Actually, I would much rather play Clue. That game, and all the strategy and intrigue involved, is way more interesting than chess.
A lot of people will probably disagree with me here. I wish I loved chess, I really do. It's just one of those things that I can't get into no matter how many times someone tries to explain it to me. All I ever grasp is that the Queen can do whatever she wants and then I get stuck on thinking how great of an idea that is and the rest just goes in one ear and out the other.
It's strange because, for a year and a half of my college career, I wanted to be an Economics major. In fact, I completed all of the requirements. But once there were no Game Theory classes left for me to take, the whole field didn't seem as interesting to me anymore, and I decided not to declare that major anymore, despite having spent a lot of time going through the motions in that department. (Also, imagine me as an Economics major. Like, okay. I wasn't fooling anybody.)
Anyway, that whole tangent was just to say that I really like Game Theory. I think it's cool and interesting as heck. So then why don't I love chess?
Whatever. I am who I am.
There is one thing I like about chess, however, and that is the crazy German words they used to describe certain moves. But of course, I don't use them to describe my chess strategies, but instead the actual decisions I make on the daily. I like them for the same reason that I like Game Theory: you can apply them to any and all choices you make, not just where you're going to move your horse knight and your bobblehead front guy.
So this Wednesday, I'm giving you, the reader, two totally fabulous words of German origin that will come in handy 1) if you're a chessmaster and 2) if you're a normal person who, like, makes decisions throughout the day like everyone else (even small decisions, like whether to hit snooze again or finally get out of bed).
So for the first one, we have ZUGZWANG. I don't know how to pronounce it so don't bother asking me. Just say it with confidence and no one will question you, even if it's totally wrong.
Anyway, zugzwang is the name for a situation in which any move available to you (any choice, any decision) is unfavorable. It's sort of like a lose-lose situation. Perhaps an example would help illuminate the meaning of this word. Imagine this: it's eight in the morning. You have class at ten in the morning. You can either get up, get ready, and then go to class, but then you will be tired and, well, end up in probably a boring class. Your other option would be to sleep in, which is very nice indeed, but you would either not have time to get ready for your class or miss the class altogether. Either way, you're not as satisfied as if at ten past eight in the morning your professor emailed you that class was cancelled that morning and you could sleep in guilt-free.
So, yeah. That's basically zugzwang.
And then, there's ZWISCHENZUG! A word as unpredictable as the situations it describes. Basically, a zwischenzug is when you do pretty much the opposite of what was expected of you.
So, in a classic zwischenzug move, instead of continuing to talk, I'm just going to end the post here!