Chess notation

Chess notation

Squares and Pieces

Squares on a chess board are specified by giving each one a letter and a number:  a to h and 1 to 8 in a grid.  a1 is always in white’s left hand corner.

Notice the example squares marked on the board: b7, e1, g4

The rows going upwards are called “files” and can be specified by their letter, e.g. the c-file is the third row going upwards.

The rows going sideways are called “ranks”.

Apart from the pawn, pieces are given a letter.

R = Rook

N = Knight

B = Bishop

Q = Queen

K = King.

Moves

Moves are written by giving the piece letter followed by the square the piece moves to.

If a bishop moves to the square c4 this written as Bc4.

Writing pawn moves is simple: you  just record which square the pawn moves to.   For instance if pawn moves to e5 it is written as simply e5.

Sometimes two pieces of the same type can move to a square.   Then we have to say which of them is moving.

In the diagram both knights can move to d7 and both rooks can move to a4.

If possible use a file to specifiy which piece is moving.   So for the knight on b8 moving to d7 we write Nbd7.

If both pieces are on the same file we use the rank to specifiy which piece.   So for the rook on a1 moving to a4 we write R1a4.

Captures

Captures are written by including an “x” between the piece being moved and the square it moves to.   So if a knight takes a piece on f6 it is written Nxf6.

Taking with a pawn is a little different.   In that case the file the pawn is moving from is included.   So if a pawn on g4 captures something on f5 this is written as gxf5.

Remember the weird en passant capture?  With these it is the square the capturing pawn moves to (not the square of the pawn that this captured) that is written down.   In this example white has just moved his pawn from e2 to e4.   Black captures it En Passant.  This is written as fxe3.

Promotions

Whenever a pawn reaches the last rank and is promoted to a queen you add =Q to the move.   So in this example promoting to a queen would be written as b8=Q.   Of course, if it is promoted to a different piece, you just use the right piece letter.

Castling

Castling is written in a special way.   King-side castling (black in this example) is written as 0-0 and queen-side castling (white in this example) is written as 0-0-0.

Move Numbers

Finally, all moves are given a move number.   White’s first move is move 1 and black’s first move is also move 1 and so on.   So if the first moves of the game are e4 e5 Nf3 Nc6 this is written as 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6.     If you are just specifying a black move without the white move before it you include …, e.g. black’s second move would be written as 2… Nc6.

If you are using a scoresheet you won’t have to write down the move numbers as they will be pre-printed.