Chess terms

Hi SSiWers,
I am a keen chess (gwyddbwyll) player and was wondering if there is an official Welsh vocabulary for terms in chess. I know other nations name their pieces differently. Rook for example in German is Turm (which means tower). The pawn would be known as laufer (meaning runner). Where I am on Borneo they call the game Catur. It would be a delightful way for me to add to my vocabulary.


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Hi Richard!

Rook = Castell = Castle
Pawn = Gwerinwr = Peasant, common person

From memory, straight translation, no knowledge of chess…
Brenin - king, Brenhines - queen, marchog - knight, caer or castell - castle.
Looked up in Y Geiriadur Mawr… esgob - bishop…
Gwerin is listed as ordinary folk, populace, the peasantry! Also listed as chessmen and pawn is gwystl or un o werin gwyddbwyll!!!
hope this is helpful!!

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T Llew Jones (one of the foremost novelists in Welsh) was a keen chess player, and involved with the Welsh Chess Union.

He wrote a book (along with his son) about chess- “A chwaraei di wyddbwyll?”

In it, the following are used (some already mentioned)

Brenin- King
Brenhines- Queen
Castell - castle/rook
Esgob- bishop
Marchog - knight
Gwerinwr- pawn.

Along with that, it’s a mine of terms from “Siac” (check) and “Siachmat” (checkmate), through “wrth basio” (en passant) “aberthu” (sacrifice) through to “methmat” (stalemate) and “bygythiad diddiwedd” (perpetual check)!

As with most things like this, how much the more obscure (to a non-chess playing layman :wink:) terms will be known and used by Welsh speakers will differ from person to person- but I’ve a feeling most Welsh speakers with an interest in chess would be at least interested in knowing these terms- and may well end up using them when they know them!

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Did auto-correct sabotage this for you, Owain?

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Diolch yn fawr for this gem of information.
I’d imagine you’re spot on with your views about this book. Still as a ‘chessnut’ myself, I’d love to get hold of a copy. Would you know if there is an ISBN number and if it is still in print?
Diolch yn fawr eto

I’m sorry to say I can’t find it on sale new or second hand on the web, but I don’t know whether it is in or out of print.
The ISBN number is
0 85088 933 2
if that can help you to find out.

I have, however, come across the site
Which links to such sites as this-
Which may hopefully be of some interest to you!

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Thanks very much for your efforts. I will make use of your information. I also found out the book is out of print and was published in 1980.

Just found a few copies of ‘A Chwaraei di Wyddbwyll’ on Amazon. One of them is now on its way to me.
:slight_smile: diolch! @owainlurch
Don’t give up searching - you never know when someone will clean out a closet or attic and take a box of treasure to the local booksellers. Thank goodness for the internet!

Does anyone know how to play the original version of gwyddbwyll? I understand it is (was) slightly different than the game we play today.

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