The other day I was playing chess with my friend who constantly went back on his move and ask to restart again whenever he made a wrong move/decision. What's the idiomatic verb/phrase to describe his action of going back on his move?

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    Isn't a redo called a Mulligan? Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 14:31
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    Tongue-in-cheek reference to loading a savegame in video games: "Save scumming is where something happens in a game that you don't like as a result of your actions, and so you load an earlier save for a chance to undo it. It's cheating, in other words – and depending on who you ask, mainly cheating yourself."
    – Flater
    Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 14:38
  • @YosefBaskin I think the applicability of mulligan would depend on whether the opponent immediately asks to try another move (yes), or whether he only suggests it after the OP has made a clearly superior move (no).
    – Flater
    Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 14:39
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    I've heard rescind, retract, and revoke used in this context. Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 14:49
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    I once spent many hours over many days playing chess with a guy who was way above me in ability. We only actually started the game once, after which whenever I thought I was in a hopeless position he would offer to backtrack as many moves as I wanted, until I felt I was no longer at a disadvantage. He never actually wrote anything down, but I'm sure he was accurately backtracking even when I needed to retrace a dozen moves or more. It certainly taught me a lot though (but I must admit the main thing I learned was that I simply wasn't in his league, and never would be! :) Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 15:56

3 Answers 3


I've seen takeback used to describe this action of taking back a move in Chess.

Definition on Wiktionary:


takeback (plural takebacks)

  1. The act of taking back or reclaiming anything
  2. (chess) The withdrawal of the previous move, as in practice games.

I've also seen Takeback Game used to describe a game of Chess where takebacks are allowed acording to the rules.

For more examples, you can check out the usage of this word on the Chess Stack Exchange site.

Another word that might work here to describe your friend's action can be undid or undo.

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    This is also the word used on chess playing sites for the command that asks the opponent to let you take back your last move. Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 18:56
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    It's not strictly allowed when following official rules of chess, but this question on chess SE indeed uses the term takeback in the question and all of the answers.
    – Octopus
    Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 19:27
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    And if you want to deny your friend the right to rescind moves, you have to say "no "takesies backsies".
    – Patrick M
    Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 20:21
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    This is the right answer
    – Tony Ennis
    Commented Jul 29, 2017 at 0:03
  • thanks. that's a good word, only that my question was asking for a verb/phrase, but you give me a noun.
    – user239460
    Commented Jul 29, 2017 at 2:02

Renege is often used if a single move is taken back.

From MW

transitive verb

: deny, renounce

intransitive verb

1 obsolete : to make a denial

2 : revoke

3 : to go back on a promise or commitment

Other sources, including Wiktionary include:

In a card game, to break one's commitment to follow suit when capable.

I've seen it used in other games, including chess, when a person makes (or attempts to make) a move discovered to be illegal.


Once his hand leaves the piece he isn't allowed to "take-back" the move. I've also played by the rule that once you touch a piece, you must move that piece, and once you let it go, that player's turn has ended.

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