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, 2016 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, 2016 at 11:47
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    @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, 2016 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, 2016 at 23:17
  • I love how this has 15 upvotes. It would probably have 150 if the intended phrase were "I have never really been too good at Russian"
    – SAH
    Dec 15, 2016 at 7:39

4 Answers 4


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.

  • "My aim in CS:GO" the only time I would use this phrase haha! Feb 10, 2016 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, 2016 at 0:22
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    Ahh, подзабыл works well in this case. Thanks for the reply! Feb 10, 2016 at 1:53
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    @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, 2016 at 7:52
  • Vote for "разучился" as well. Or just "Давно не играл (в шахматы)". Feb 10, 2016 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.

  • +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. Feb 11, 2016 at 6:50
  • That's great. I have big plans to say this. Is it shashek or shashyok? I'd better get this right.
    – SAH
    Dec 15, 2016 at 7:38
  • @SAH, It's the first, shashek.
    – V.V.
    Dec 15, 2016 at 14:12

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.

  • Hi and welcome to Russian.SE! This one is good, +1
    – Quassnoi
    Feb 10, 2016 at 16:47

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