In chess, and presumably other games where two players alternate turns, the word move has two meanings:

  • One player moving one of his pieces
  • White moving a piece, and Black's move in response

Presumably because the game can end with White making the final move (I can't think of any other reason this term would be necessary), the technical term for the first of these meanings is ply. Thus, a chess game in which White moves twenty one times and Black moves twenty times is said to comprise forty one plies.

Ply (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Plied (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Plying (?).] [OE. plien, F. plier to fold, to bend, fr. L. plicare; akin to Gr. , G. flechten. Cf. Apply, Complex, Display, Duplicity, Employ, Exploit, Implicate, Plait, Pliant, Flax.]


To bend.


As men may warm wax with handes plie. Chaucer.


To lay on closely, or in folds; to work upon steadily, or with repeated acts; to press upon; to urge importunately; as, to ply one with questions, with solicitations, or with drink.

And plies him with redoubled strokes Dryden.

He plies the duke at morning and at night. Shak.


To employ diligently; to use steadily.

Go ply thy needle; meddle not. Shak.


To practice or perform with diligence; to work at.

Their bloody task, unwearied, still they ply. Waller.


© Webster 1913.

Ply, v. i.


To bend; to yield.


It would rather burst atwo than plye. Chaucer.

The willow plied, and gave way to the gust. L'Estrange.


To act, go, or work diligently and steadily; especially, to do something by repeated actions; to go back and forth; as, a steamer plies between certain ports.

Ere half these authors be read (which will soon be with plying hard and daily). Milton.

He was forced to ply in the streets as a porter. Addison.

The heavy hammers and mallets plied. Longfellow.

3. Naut.

To work to windward; to beat.


© Webster 1913.

Ply, n. [Cf. F. pli, fr. plier. See Ply, v.]


A fold; a plait; a turn or twist, as of a cord.



Bent; turn; direction; bias.

The late learners can not so well take the ply. Bacon.

Boswell, and others of Goldsmith's contemporaries, . . . did not understand the secret plies of his character. W. Irving.

The czar's mind had taken a strange ply, which it retained to the last. Macaulay.

Ply is used in composition to designate folds, or the number of webs interwoven; as, a three-ply carpet.


© Webster 1913.

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