Writing Chess, Part 2

GM Bryan Smith 30 May 29, 2010 10272 reads
Hi again, here is second part of the article about chess notation (click here for part 1). By now, you already know the basics of "algebraic notation" (using letters and numbers). Now we are going to learn some of the special rules. After reading this article you can start to keep score on a scoresheet!

Let's say you have this position:

And you see "Nd7" for Black. How do you know which knight went to d7? The one on f6, or the one on b8? That's right, you don't know. So, somebody reading it in a book, or looking at the game on a chessboard with their teacher or at home, wouldn't know which knight moved to d7Yell. They would have to just guess, but they might be wrong.

That's why when two of the same kind of piece can go to the same square, you need to say which file it came from. You need to say which letter knight it was, b- or f-. Let's say Black played the knight from b8 to d7. That looks like this:

So, the letter of the knight comes after "N" but before the square it is going to. Thus, "Nbd7". If the other knight moved to d7, it would be "Nfd7". This is the same for all the other pieces, except pawns and kings. With pawns there is no problem unless they are capturing (and as we learned in part 1, we always say which pawn captures anyway) and with kings...well, you can never have two kings! Tongue out

What if the two knights are on the same file to begin with? For example, the following position:

Now of course Nbd7 won't do, since both of the knights are on the b-file. So here we have to use the numbered "ranks". You would write the move either N8d7 (if Black moves the knight from b8) or N6d7.

Well, if you have mastered that, then the rest should be easy! How do you write castling? Just look at the next diagram...

As you can see, castling kingside (or "short castling") is written by "0-0". Castling queenside (or "long castling") is "0-0-0".

If you are lucky enough (or if your opponent is lucky enough...) to get a pawn to the other side of the board, then it is promoted to another piece. After writing the pawn move (let's say "e8") then you add "=Q", if it becomes a queen. If it becomes a knight, then "=N". So, if you move a pawn to e8 and it becomes a knight, you write "e8=N".

There are a few other symbols that people write after moves. If the move is a check, people sometimes write "+" after the move. Checkmate can be written "++" or "#". In general, if White wins, at the end of the scoresheet or article is written "1-0". If Black wins, it is "0-1", and if it is a draw, then "1/2-1/2".

If you are pretty serious about chess and have been reading chess books, or other articles on chesskid.com, then you might have seen some other funny punctuations after moves, such as "!" and "?". This is to tell the reader what the person commenting on the game thinks about the moves. "!", of course, means "good move", and "?" means "bad move". When you are keeping score during a game, don't write these punctuation marks! You don't know for sure if a move is good or bad until the game is over, and maybe not even then...

Do you want to see what a real chess scoresheet looks like? Here is a picture of a scoresheet from a game by the current world champion, Viswanathan Anand.

Now that you can write and read chess notation, you are on the road to becoming a real chess player!