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I played chess with the German speaker and he tells me that 'Irgendwie habe ich noch die Kurve gekriegt'. Generally I understand that somehow he took advantage of the game.

So what's the meaning of this phrase? In which context it can be used?

upd: He has checkmated me after all.

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Another phrase with a similar meaning is "sich zum Guten wenden". – Roman Reiner Aug 6 '14 at 6:42
... and another one that also plays with the picture of steering something and changing direction: "das Steuer herumreißen" – Matthias Aug 7 '14 at 8:59

3 Answers 3

up vote 28 down vote accepted

Die Kurve kriegen is a widely used idiomatic phrase indicating that someone managed to break a negative developement/trend and get back on track.

The image is someone driving along a road which takes a sharp turn at some point. So if they don't change the direction they are currently going in, they will crash/fail. The negated version is also in use:

Er hat die Kurve nicht gekriegt.

means that the person did not manage to stay on the road (to success), resulting in him crashing instantly or being on a downward slope leading to now inevitable failure.

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It's often used to describe long term development but it can also be used for short term action. For example, someone is about to say something incredibly stupid but in the last second manages to turn around his statement so that it makes sense, then you could say "er hat die Kurve gerade noch so bekommen". – kapep Aug 6 '14 at 14:15

In addition to what the other answers state, the phrase can more generally be used to indicate success in a challenging situation, typically if you started on the wrong track.

You can strengthen the statement:

Sie hat gerade so noch die Kurve gekriegt.

It only just worked.

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Nice example, thanks! – optim1st Aug 7 '14 at 8:44

It means that he managed to get his act together, as it were, and beat you after all. Apparently he saw himself at a disadvantage at some point.

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As this answer may help the OP in their very specific situation to understand the idiom "Kurve kriegen" it would be desirable to further elaborate your answer to give us a more general reference on meaning, etymology, and usage. – Takkat Aug 6 '14 at 6:42

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