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MatPlus.Net Forum General "playing for selfmate"
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(1) Posted by Steven Dowd [Sunday, Feb 28, 2010 18:22]

"playing for selfmate"

Before I knew a thing about problem chess, I used to use the term, "He's playing for selfmate" whenever a player made moves that basically gave the mate in a position where none existed. This is of course not self-play, but help-play and I always wondered why I would make such an odd comment (once I knew the difference!). I've noted others commenting in English don't make the same mistake, and speak of bad play as help-play.

Then in the Wikipedia entry under Selbstmatt, in German, I found the following:

Weitere Verwendung des Begriffs

Wenn im Partieschach ein Spieler überraschend schlechte Züge macht (oder einen groben Fehler, der dem Gegner erst die Möglichkeit zum Mattsetzen einräumt), sagt man, „er spielt auf Selbstmatt“.[2]
2. ↑ Kurt Richter: Die ersten Schritte. Schachratgeber für Anfänger, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 1941, S. 49

Well I learned to play chess in Germany as a child and bought all the Richter books, I admired them greatly, which makes me think I probably adopted Richter's terminology.

I find it strange that such a good analyst as Richter, who composed a few problems himself and was supportive of problem chess, would use the term in this manner.

I present this mainly for commentary (beyond my erstwhile ignorance, of course). Is the term used correctly in other countries? Have other German-speaking players, who presumably also cut their teeth on Richter or his Nachlauefer, noticed the incorrect use of this term - which seems to me to be something of a meme that would spread throughout the chess-playing community?
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(2) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Monday, Mar 1, 2010 12:36]

OTB is OTB, and problem is problem, and never the twain
shall meet :P Guilty as charged - I will always use
"selfmate" instead of "helpmate" in an OTB game although I
very well know this is incorrect (and even wrote a
small INSELSCHACH column bitching about the sloppy use
of chess metaphor in everyday life, an obvious example
being "Zugzwang" for "damned if I do, damned if I don't" -
even some chess reporters don't get the last part right).

I might suggest this is irony (Stupid move? Hey, this move
is so stupid he MUST mate you!) if I wouldn't know that
German humor is as famous as English cooking. And don't mention
the war, by the way. :-)

<insert rant> In language the principle Vox populi, vox cretini
holds: if Pisa generation insists on the new rule that all long
i will be written as ie, then this will become accepted Duden
use eventually. Cease of everyday language misuse? You could as
well hope for something with niveau on television. <end of rant>

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(3) Posted by Steven Dowd [Monday, Mar 1, 2010 13:49]; edited by Steven Dowd [10-03-01]

As John Cleese noted once on German humor, "Evidently they don't have any over there, so they imported us in." (in reference to the German language version of Monty Python).

Robert Brieger noted that chessplayers often misuse the term zugzwang, so I suppose reporters, who seem to twist chess terms with regularity, would do so. My one observation there is that Zugnot is not the same as Zugzwang, and I would like to see your little piece from Inselschach.
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(4) Posted by Olaf Jenkner [Monday, Mar 1, 2010 22:26]

If someone plays very bad it looks like he tries to mate himself.
We call some drivers "Kamikaze-Fahrer" because they seem to look
for a tree to get killed.
In common language it is OK. Problem terminology is another thing.
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MatPlus.Net Forum General "playing for selfmate"