Understanding Algebraic Notation Chess

Chess is easy to write once you understand standard algebraic notation. So, what is this notation, and is it difficult to learn? The algebraic notation has been around for several decades and is used in chess tournaments worldwide. If you consider playing in an adult or scholastic tournament, you will need to learn algebraic notation. Recording your game is mandatory in a chess tournament. The good thing is that you can learn algebraic notation in a relativity short time. Although it is easy to learn, it is difficult to record your chess game correctly during the heat of battle. Experience and inexperienced chess players know how to read the chessboard, but during post mortem, the inexperienced chess players are unable to review their game in the entirety because the game is recorded incorrectly. At the same time, the experience chess player will correct any mistakes on his scoresheet from his mental map of the game.

kids at chess tournament
Over the Board Chess Tournament

Before we give chess notation examples, we need to learn our battle ground-the chessboard. The chessboard has 64 squares and is divided by Kingside and Queenside. I’ll explain the difference between Kingside and Queenside, but remember there are two sides to a chessboard. White is said to travel up the chessboard, and Black travel down the chessboard. If a chess player wants to record his game, he will use a chess notation sheet. These sheets are given out at the chess tournament, and the players do not pay for them. Chess is a strategy game because of the similarities of a military formation, among other things. In chess, we have ranks and files. There are 8 ranks and 8 files. Each square has a name, and we start from the black side, a8. If we follow that line from a8 – a1, it’s called a file. There are 8 files on a chessboard from a1 thru h1. Therefore, we have the, a file, b, file, c, file, d, file, e, file, f, file, g, file, and h file. Files are verticle. Next, we have Ranks, 1st rank, 2nd rank, 3rd rank, 4th rank, 5th rank, 6th rank, 7th rank, and 8th rank. White pieces are set up on the 1st and 2nd rank. Black pieces are set up on the 7th and 8th rank. Ranks are horizontal.

Algebraic Chess Notation
Reading Chess Notation

Castle Strategy Chess

Chess rules castling the King is a strategy that every inexperienced chess player should understand. The castle is 0-0 for Kingside castle and 0-0-0 for Queenside castle in algebraic notation. We divide the chessboard in half when speaking of Queenside and Kingside. The Kingside is the e, f, g, and h files. The Queenside is the d, c, b, and a files. Why should a chess player castle early? In chess, the goal is to capture the King, which is to surround the King. When you castle, you are placing the King into a Castle-a protective, secure home on the edge of the chessboard, making it difficult for your opponent to surround your King.

Chess Rules castling the king
An image of the Castle Hohenzollern in south Germany

Algebraic Chess Notation Explained

White always move first in chess. Therefore he is considered to be on the offensive and Black on the defensive. The first move gives White the initiative because Black must respond to the White move. How to record chess moves from the White and Black perspective. Since White always moves first, his move is recorded as 1.e4 (if he played this move), and Black move is recorded as 1…e5 (if he played this move). In algebraic notation, we never say pawn, just the square that the pawn will land on. Each of the other chess pieces, Rooks, Knights, Bishops, King, and Queen, are recorded with their first letter only and the square that they will land on. These are some chess notation examples: Black plays Knight to f3, is written as Nf3 (K, is reserve for King), or White plays Bishop b5, written as Bb5. We always only use the first letter of the piece name. If we want to capture a piece, we used an x, for example, Bxb5. Notice we didn’t notate BxB (which would be Bishop capture Bishop); we wrote on our algebraic chess notation sheet Bxb5 (lower case b) because all letters in algebraic notation are lower case, not upper case. Upper case letters are reserve for the chess pieces. If we check our opponent King, the check is noted with the symbol +, and the checkmate is noted with the symbol #.

Chess board notation

The chessboard coordinates are easy to learn for the inexperienced chess player, his issue is highlighted after the game, and his notation is incorrect. He will get better with practice and playing under tournament conditions. Most chess tournaments provide the players with a free notation chess scoresheet. Below you will find how a chess score sheet looks like and how it’s filled out. Good Luck, Good Chess.

images of algebraic notation chess board
Chessboard layout numbers.

National Master Glenn Bady. I have been teaching kids chess for over 30 years, mostly in Philly and the surrounding suburbs.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCP8PZRsbk0ifhOrPqI4EONQ

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