“I’m thinking of a word,” said Lionel. His hands moved quietly while he spoke, setting pieces in their accustomed places. “It has two zeds in it.”

“How puzzling,” said Adolf, allowing himself a smile. “This is much easier than last time, when I think you claimed there were 1,851 possibilities to consider.”

“You see things always in black and white, Adolf,” said Lionel. He finished setting things up and leaned back. “Though I am impressed with your first guess, my word also has two gees in it.”

“Barely harder,” said Adolf. He moved a piece. “Guzzling. An ugly word, ungainly. Not one to lay claim to immortality.”

“Always the romantic, holding the material in contempt,” said Lionel. “Besides, the one I have in mind has a double-you in it.”

Adolf was silent for a while, the only noise being the steady click-click-click as the two men quietly warred. Somewhere in another room a clock chimed eleven.

“Ah, there goes the clergy,” said Lionel with a smile. “If it helps, it also has a single-you in it.”

“You could be clearer,” said Adolf. “After all, I am sacrificing a lot here.”

“And yet I am the one feeling stranded,” said Lionel staring down between them. “I wonder, do we really need to see this to the end?”

“The outcome seems obvious to me,” said Adolf. “As, at last, does your choice of word.”

Where, and in what city, are the two men having their conversation?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ +1 for nice word and relevant flavour text; -1 for being too easy. No vote from me, I'm afraid. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 16:25
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @Randal'Thor thanks :) The site needs puzzles of all levels I hope! $\endgroup$
    – user40528
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 16:30

1 Answer 1


The only question I see on this is where they are, so

This is in London at the first international chess tournament, and the year is 1851. The players are Adolf Anderssen, who won this match (dubbed the Immortal Game) by sacrificing many of his pieces to Lionel Kieseritzky.

But, if I were to take a stab at the word, it would be

zugzwang, which is a situation were one chess player is at a disadvantage to make a move, and would rather not (a common theme in the Immortal Game).

  • $\begingroup$ Yes, for both counts. Nice work :) $\endgroup$
    – user40528
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 16:30

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