In addition, every player should review games by masters for insight and inspiration. Studying past games is impossible without **chess notation**.

Unless you understand this system, your progress as a player is severely limited. Here is what you need to know:

- What Is Chess Notation?
- What Is Algebraic Notation?
- Why Is Recording Moves Important?
- What Special Symbols Are Used?
- How Is A Complex Move Recorded?
- What Are Other Notation Types?
- Conclusion
- Chess Notation Video

*How is castling recorded? (As explained below, kingside castling, demonstrated in this graphic, is recorded as O-O.)*

Chess notation, very simply, is a system of recording and describing moves. There are several ways to notate chess moves, including figurine algebraic notation and descriptive notation, but the most commonly used way is algebraic notation.

Physically writing down the moves of a game is required at many over-the-board tournaments, but on ChessKid the moves are recorded for you! ChessKid displays the moves live as you and your opponent make them.

*Because ChessKid automatically records all moves of a game in algebraic notation, they can be easily reviewed later to identify how a player can improve.*

The currently accepted standard of chess notation is known as algebraic notation. It is a system of chess notation that uses coordinates to identify squares on the chessboard. Each square is identified by a letter and number from White’s point of view.

The letter represents the file, or column, where a square is located and ranges from a to h (left to right from White’s side of the board). The number represents the rank, or row, where a square is located from 1 to 8, again from White’s perspective with 1 being the back rank of White.

Thus, the square in the left-hand corner from White’s point of view is designated as a1, and the square in Black’s left-hand corner is h8. Learn more about how the squares on a chessboard are labeled in the "How to Play Chess" article.

*Each square is identified by a letter and a number from White's point of view.*

Algebraic notation has essentially replaced a system of descriptive notation, which FIDE stopped recognizing in 1981. Although the term algebraic notation is technically a misnomer because the system is not related to algebra, proposals to rename it as standard notation have not been popular.

Pieces other than pawns are identified by a capital letter, namely K for king; Q, queen; R, rook; B, bishop; and N, knight. Instead of being identified by a letter, a pawn is identified by the square that it moves to (with extra notation required for captures, as explained below).

Piece |
Notation |

King | K |

Queen | Q |

Rook | R |

Bishop | B |

Knight | N (because K is used for king) |

Pawn | (No notation) |

Chess notation combines the letter of the piece moved with the square that it moves to, such as Nf3, an opening move popular for White that means the kingside knight moves to the f3-square. When a piece captures an enemy piece, *x* is placed between the letter of the capturing piece and the square where the capture occurs, such as Nxe5, or a knight captures an enemy piece on the e5-square.

For pawns, the file that the capturing pawn comes from is included in the notation, thus exf or exf5, indicates that the e-pawn captures an enemy piece on the f-file or the f5-square.

*In algebraic notation, a knight is identified by the letter N.*

Sometimes more information than only the square that a piece moves to is needed to avoid confusion. For example, if White has two rooks on the back rank and each can move to the same file, a starting indicator is needed to designate the rook that is moving. If the rook on the a-file is moving to the e1-square (where the other rook can also move), the move is notated as Rae1.

In addition, *on very rare occasions*, two pieces of the same type can both move to the same square *and* they are already on the same file. In this case, you still start with the piece abbreviation and then *add the rank of the piece* before noting the square where it moves.

For example, if both white knights are on the f-file and both can move to d2 (as illustrated in the board position below), the annotation N1d2 indicates that the knight on f1 is the one that moves to d2.

Competitive games typically require that each player record moves using algebraic chess notation on special sheets. If you don’t know how to notate correctly, you cannot participate in important chess tournaments.

Chess notation is also important to resolve problems during games, such as when a move is disputed and a record is needed to show how the moves have been made. Having a sheet that shows the moves of a game is much better than relying on the memory of the players.

*A scoresheet is helpful for recording moves.*

In addition, chess notation is a vital part of every chess player’s education. Being unable to record moves usually signifies that a person is just beginning to play chess. Because you want to show that you understand the game, knowing how to record moves is essential.

Further, game results are important for chess coaches to review as they help their students to improve. For coaches to analyze how the games have been played, records of moves are indispensable. Learn more about the value of coaches in our "Are Chess Coaches Worth It?" article.

*Coaches such as National Master James Canty, a ChessKid coach, can help students better when they record their games.*

In addition to an *x* used to indicate capture, two other important symbols in chess notation are *+* to indicate check and *#* to indicate checkmate. Annotations of a game use these and other special symbols placed at the end of move notations.

The most common ones are the following:

- !! Brilliant move that is exceptionally strong
- ! Great move that usually is the best one
- !? Interesting move but not the best one
- ?! Dubious move that is questionable but has merits
- ? Mistake, a move that should not have been played
- ?? Blunder, a move that results in an immediately lost position
- + Opponent’s king is threatened by check
- # Checkmate

For example, as illustrated below, Fool's Mate is recorded as 1. f3 e5 2. g4 Qh4#, and the final move includes the symbol *#*.

In chess notation, the result of a game is indicated after the final move is recorded, such as 1-0 (which means that White is the winner), 0-1 (Black is the winner), or ½-½ (a draw). Interestingly, stalemate does not have a special notation or symbol.

Special symbols are used not only to add meaning to the importance of a move but also to describe complex chess moves such as castling. The notation depends on the side of the chessboard that the king castles toward. Castling on the kingside (demonstrated in the first graphic above) is recorded as 0-0; queenside castling is annotated as 0-0-0. The number of zeros indicates the number of squares that the rook moves.

Another complex move is pawn promotion. For this move, an equal sign is used with the letter that represents the piece that the pawn is promoted to. For example, d8=Q indicates that the pawn on d7 advances to d8 and becomes a queen.

Another complex move involving pawns is the en passant capture. However, no special annotation is required. The notation for this capture is the same as any other pawn capture. However, note that you write the square where the capturing pawn lands (not the one where the captured pawn is). In the illustration below, the move is recorded as dxc6.

Interestingly, chess traps (such as Legal’s Trap and Noah’s Ark Trap) and tactics (such as pins and forks) receive no special notice in chess notation.

Several other systems of chess notation are still often seen today even with the overwhelming popularity of algebraic notation.

Figurine algebraic notation, or FAN, replaces the language-specific letters of pieces with universally recognized symbols for them, such as ♞ for knights. All FAN symbols are part of the Unicode Miscellaneous Symbols, which also include symbols for astrology, music, politics, religion, weather, and many other uses. One drawback of using FAN symbols is that without proper rendering support, they may be awkwardly be displayed as question marks or boxes.

Descriptive notation was used in most chess literature until about 1980. Each square has two names, one from White’s point of view for a move by White and one from Black’s point of view for a move by Black.

Chess notation, a system of recording and describing moves, is very important for every chess player, particularly when playing in tournaments. Understanding chess notation also lets you study famous games played by legendary masters as well as analyze your own games to evaluate how you could have played better.