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n. (context chess English) Space made for a castled king to give it a flight square to prevent a back-rank mate.


Luft, the German word for " air" (sometimes also "space" or "breath"), is used by some chess writers and commentators to denote a space or square left by a pawn move into which a castled king may move, especially such a space made with the intention of avoiding a back rank checkmate. A move leaving such a space is often said to "give the king some luft".

A simplified example is seen to the right. Black is threatening checkmate with the simple 1...Re1# and White must deal with this threat. The right thing to do is to give the king some luft by moving a pawn on the g or h file: 1.g3, 1.g4, 1.h3, and 1.h4 will all avoid immediate checkmate. After each, 1...Re1+ can be simply met with 2.Kg2 or 2.Kh2.

It is usually better to move the h-pawn (or the a-pawn if the king is on the queenside) because moving the f-pawn can weaken the king's position and moving the g-pawn creates holes at f3 and h3 (or f6 and h6 for Black on the kingside). In the diagram, Black has a weak luft because of the holes on a6 and c6; White has a strong luft, without holes .

A luft square for a king can be "plugged up" by placing the square in check (under possible attack) by an opposing piece such as a bishop, queen, pawn, or possibly knight. Then, the said king cannot move into the luft square in check, leaving it still vulnerable to a back rank mate.

Luft (surname)

Luft is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

  • Arthur Luft (died 2009), Manx judge and politician
  • Cara Luft, Canadian singer-songwriter
  • Don Luft (1930–2002), American football player
  • Klaus Luft (born 1941), German businessman
  • Lorna Luft (born 1952), American actress and singer
  • Lya Luft (born 1938), Brazilian writer and poet
  • Molly Luft (1944–2010), German prostitute
  • Sidney Luft (1915–2005), American film producer
  • Stanley J. Luft, American philatelist

Usage examples of "luft".

Striche die Kreuz und die Quer durch die Luft zu ziehen, klatsch, klatsch gegen das Bauer schlagen und krabbelnd herunterfallen.

Er holte tief Luft und bereitete sich auf das Knirschen und Splittern vor, mit dem er jeden Augenblick rechnete.

Abhang geworfen wird und ihn erblickt, wie er ausgestreckt am Strande liegt, den bleichen Hahnenschnabel steif in die Luft.

The LJ-Bahn in Potsdamer Platz was tempting--she could read as she rode--but the distance was short and the morning air, the Berliner luft, a gift to the sleep-deprived.

Leben lang sollst du wie eine Fliege durch die Luft geweht werden, du und alle, die dir hierher gefolgt sind!

Die Luft ist scharf, und der Ostwind, der seit Tagesgrauen geheult hat, nimmt mehr und mehr zu.

The memory of those eighteen months in Stalag Luft 1 came flooding back into my mind.

I dreamt I was back in Stalag Luft I, but the guards all wore right-necked brown tunics and black knee-length boots, and there was always snow and no hope of release or escape - only the hope of death.

Es war warm in der Halle, und ein Geruch nach Benzin und Schmierstoffen lag in der Luft.

She had been here before when it was the Luft Gau Headquarters for Central Germany.