Zugzwang, a German word meaning "obligation to move," is actually a chess term. To be "in zugzwang" is to be at a disadvantage because the player must make a move, even though he had rather pass when it is his turn to play.
I know nothing about chess, except of course the names of the pieces, and what the board looks like. I am, however, taking a "refresher course" in bridge. What does that mean? Well, it means that even though I have been playing bridge off and on ever since I was in college, I never knew what I didn't know about the game. Oh, I kind of suspected that I didn't know, but we always played "party bridge," where there was always a lot of laughing, gossiping, snacks, and maybe some wine.
Now I am learning bridge on a whole different level, and I have a constant fear of being "in zugzwang" if I make the wrong bid or play the wrong card, because if I do, I will definitely "go down," or lose.
The kind of bridge that I am attempting to learn is "duplicate," and there is no table talk, or wine, or snacks. This is serious stuff! I have to actually think! My partner and I can have no signals, like faking a sneeze to tell my partner to pass, or stating my bid in the form of a question, like on Jeopardy. To me, bridge is a game of numbers, and math has never been my strong point. I am always on the edge of understanding it, but just not quite!!
There is just soooo much to remember! I have to add up my partner's points with my points, after I figure out just how many points my partner has. Then I have to figure out how many points the opponents have, and who has what why. See what I mean?
After we have settled on a contract, then we have to actually PLAY the cards, or if the opponents get the contract, I have to play to defeat them. I have to "lead," or play the first card. Oh! My head is spinning! I fear that if I play the wrong card I will be "in zugzwang!!" But this is not chess; it is bridge and I am doing this for FUN. Really? Hahahaha!
I WILL learn how to play bridge! There is something very satisfying about playing a cerebral game at my age. I'm old, you know. Wish me luck!