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You're going to quickly learn everything you need to know about reading and writing
chess moves, called "chess notation". There's even an actual real-life
"scoresheet" below that shows exactly how to write your moves in a chess
tournament or chess club.
This is the official recording document for recording chess moves. These
scoresheets are used by the US Chess Federation, the official chess governing
body in the United States.
Algebraic Chess Notation is today's universally accepted chess
language. Though there are other styles, algebraic notation has been accepted as
the standard by the international chess organization called FIDE. FIDE governs
all world-class chess competitions.
Chess notation is easy to learn! You'll understand it like the experts in the
next 10 minutes. Just continue reading and/or watch the special
Why should I write down my chess moves?
are many good reason's for writing down your chess moves. Chess
notation enables you to record your games for playback later. That day
you played a superb game of chess... wouldn't you like to be able to
play through it later and show your friends? Recording the game with
chess notation enables you to study, replay, or show the game later!
You can also read and play through games of great players to learn and
improve your own chess game! There is a wealth of materials both in book and
digital form allowing you to study the chess moves of great chess players.
Chess competitions actually require recording of moves from the beginning
scholastic levels to chess championship levels. The reason for this is that the
game can be followed and recreated to any position in case there is a dispute.
There are also chess rules based on the number of moves played and these can
only be applied if recording has taken place.
Many players like to record their chess games and later enter those games
into chess database software which allows them to further study and analyse
their game. The
software will analyse and point out mistakes or places where they could have
played much better moves. It's a great way to improve your chess play. It's
almost a secret weapon since a remarkably small percentage of chessplayers
utilize this concept of chess improvement - and the tools are right there!
Learn Chess Notation
To write chess notation you must indicate the piece and the
square it's moving to. Notice how each piece is abbreviated with a
single letter except the pawn! If no piece is named it's assumed that a pawn
move is made. Notice also how the Knight is abbreviated with a "N" not "K"
In the following diagram I made the first move pawn to
The name of this move is simply "e4". (since the pawn's name is not written)
Notice how this is shown on the sample scoresheet. By the way,
this is an official chess scoresheet that is used in USCF rated chess
tournaments. I've included it here for you to quickly get a concept of how this
will appear when you actually record your games.
Now black has made a pawn move... this is written as
e5. Next, White has replied with Nf3. Notice how the name of the piece is
written as well as the name of the square.
Now, we're going to fast forward to some special moves. See in
the next diagram how white has made a special move called castling kingside.
This move is written as 0-0. If the King castles on the queenside
(to the other direction on the chessboard) it would be written as 0-0-0.
In the next diagram, White is going to capture Black's pawn on
d5. This move is called exd5. When a "capture" is made this is
indicated with an x.
Next, White captures the Knight on c6. This move is written as
Bxc6+. Notice the "+" sign. This represents "check" since Black's King is
now in check.
White just moved d4. Black's next move
called en passant captures white's d4 pawn while moving his pawn to d3.
After several more moves, Black captures White's Bishop on c1
with dxc1=Q. That's about as complicated as it gets! This means pawn
captures piece on c1 and promotes it to a Queen. Black could promote it to any
other piece he chooses, but Queen's are nearly always the best choice.
Next, notice how the next move is Raxc1. Note that either
the rook on A1 OR F1 can capture the queen. This means that the "a" must
be included to indicate which rook.
In this next position, white makes a winning move,
pawn to d4 CHECKMATE!. By now you've probably guessed that this game was created
as an illustration since White has made some very awful moves just asking for
That's all there is to know about chess notation! You've learned
the notation standards plus how to indicate the special moves ... check (+), en
passant (ep), castling (0-0 or 0-0-0), checkmate (++).
Now you can learn about annotation symbols which can be written
at the end of a move to indicate whether that move was a good move or a bad
Chess Notation Annotation Symbols
You'll find that once you can read and write chess notation,
your world is opened to a wide expanse of chess knowledge. Once you delve into
this, you'll quickly become a better chessplayer and you'll be leagues ahead of
your casual coffee-shop chess playing friends and just about everyone in your
In addition to writing the moves themselves, chess players will
comment on the strengths and weakness of chess moves with chess move annotation
Here's a diagram of the symbols you'll most often see.
Black move follows
Terrible move (blunder)
Notice how some of these comments have been placed on the scoresheet shown
above. Now you have a solid, practical introduction to chess notation, and a
scoresheet that actually shows you how it should look in the real world.