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For example, if I wanted to say "I'm really rusty at chess because I have not played it in a long time", how would I do so while sounding more or less casual? I could say something like "Я совсем забыл, как играть в шахматы", but that feels a bit unnatural and seems to imply that you've forgotten the rules of chess, rather than that you're simply out of practice.

This is even harder to translate when talking about video games, for example "My aim in CS:GO is terrible, I'm so out of practice". "Я совсем забыл, как целиться в CS:GO, ведь я так долго не тренировался" seems a bit convoluted, and I have no idea how to properly translate "aim" :/

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As a native, i don't put совсем забыть on a par with being RUSTY at something. To me RUSTY means that you're still competent, but out of practice. It means that you need to BRUSH UP, whereas completely forgetting something requires RELEARNING. I think the best Russian equivalent was offered by Quassnoi below in У меня математика хромает. – CocoPop Feb 9 at 23:25
feels a bit unnatural and seems to imply that you've forgotten the rules of chess Nope. That's absolutely normal in spoken Russian. Your are over-puristic here. – Matt Feb 10 at 11:47
@CocoPop: does "rusty" really mean one was able to do better previously? I've been trying to find some examples on Google Books, and there are passages like "I'm rusty at making friends. I don't know how to do this stuff". Does it mean he was better at making friends before? – Quassnoi Feb 10 at 13:09
@Quassnoi: Yes. Imagine a machine that peforms a function, then becomes rusty with disuse. The same applies here, figuratively - you were good at something and fell out of practice. We have a special verb for the process of regaining your former skills: brushing up. For example: I've gotten rusty; I need to brush up on my Russian. – CocoPop Feb 10 at 23:17
up vote 8 down vote accepted

I'm really rusty at chess because I have not played it in a long time.
А навык игры в шахматы-то я подрастерял за все это время. (maybe a bit too casual, but cannot really think of anything else)

My aim in CS:GO is terrible, I'm so out of practice.
Я так плохо целюсь в CS:GO, совсем навык потерял. ('rustiness' is more severe than in chess example)

Я совсем забыл, как играть в шахматы.
Yes this means either "I forgot the rules" or "I forgot all good strategies", so 'rustiness' is complete or very severe.

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Thanks for the reply, this really helps :) – Glimmering Lights Feb 10 at 1:53
You're welcome :) – Andrew Furletov Feb 10 at 5:55
"My aim in CS:GO" the only time I would use this phrase haha! – user3564421 Feb 10 at 16:01

Забыл (or позабыл) is perfectly OK when you are talking about "really rusty". "A little rusty" would be подзабыл.

Я совсем позабыл, как играть в шахматы // I'm really rusty at chess

Я подзабыл, как играть в шахматы // I'm a little bit rusty at chess

You can replace either word with разучился.

Я совсем разучился целиться в CS:GO

If the Russian sentence allows the nominal construct, you can also use хромает:

У меня математика хромает // I'm rusty at math

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Wouldn't "У меня математика хромает" simply mean that "I'm not particularly good at math" without the connotation that I used to be much better at it, like "rusty" does in english? To me, "У меня математика хромает" looks like a sentence from a student who is doing well in other subjects but needs to work on his/her math skills, not from someone who used to be great at math but has neglected it for decades. – Peteris Feb 10 at 0:22
Ahh, подзабыл works well in this case. Thanks for the reply! – Glimmering Lights Feb 10 at 1:53
@Peteris, you are right about "хромает", it's not quite appropriate for "rusty". For me, the best variant is "разучился", but other ones are OK, too. – Lara Feb 10 at 7:52
Vote for "разучился" as well. Or just "Давно не играл (в шахматы)". – TT_ Feb 10 at 19:23

There's an expression from Gogol's novel. You can use it when you start to do something which you didn't practice for some time.

"Давненько я не брал в руки шашек "

I always use that.

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+1 This is a great expression and it is quite widely used. I remember my uncle always using it humorously to complain about his chess-playing skills - which shows that it does not relate only to "шашки", but could be used idiomatically to refer to other activities. – CopperKettle Feb 11 at 6:50

You can say Потерял сноровку.

Сноровка is defined as Навык, умение в каком-н. деле (Skill, mastery in particular activity).

So in your case you can use it like this:

Я потерял сноровку игры в шахматы.

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Hi and welcome to Russian.SE! This one is good, +1 – Quassnoi Feb 10 at 16:47
потерять сноровку = to lose the knack – DK. Feb 21 at 2:03
@DK., sure you can say like that. Would you mind to elaborate your point? – VL-80 Feb 21 at 2:42
@VL-80, in this case, this is pretty much an exact literal as well as the entire phraseme translation, which worth mentioning and probably should be used if you want to be as precise as possible. Of course you can still totally use it to translate I'm rusty as well. – DK. Feb 21 at 12:17
@DK., I see. Thank you for providing more data! – VL-80 Feb 21 at 14:01

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