Chess House

Education

Justin VerBurg

How to Read and Write Algebraic Chess Notation

In a few minutes you will understand how to read and write chess moves, called “chess notation”.   Being proficient at this will help you 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 Recording Sheets most oftened called “scoresheets” are a fairly standard paper recording format for the game player, event, moves, and result. These are in use by the US Chess Federation as well as international organizations such as FIDE which overseas all world-class competitions. Algebraic Chess Notation is the current and best form to learn of which Figurine Notation is a derivative swapping the piece names for figures to be langauge neutral.   Why should I write down my chess moves? Replay them! 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? Learn from them! Recording the game with chess notation enables you to review your game and analyze how you could make better moves or learn from a lost game. If you’re learning from an instructor, they will be able to quickly give feedback by looking at your recording sheet. It’s required in competitive play! Chess competitions require move recording at scholastic to championship levels. The most basic reason is proof of the game’s specific position and number of moves in case there is a dispute. Timed competitive games often have a time allottment to reach 40 moves and it must be clear when that point is reached.   Chess Notation Explained Chess Notation describes each move with the name of the pieces and the square to which it is moved. Each piece has its own letter abbreviation, except the pawn. If no piece is named, it’s assumed to a pawn move, and Knight is “N” not “K”, which is King.   In the following diagram I made the first move pawn to e4. The name of this move is simply “e4”. (since the pawn’s name is not written)   Here’s how this would appear on a scoresheet used in clubs and tournaments.   Now black has made a pawn move, written e5. Next, White replied 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 captures Black’s pawn on d5. This move is called exd5. For “capture” write an “x”.   Next, White captures the Knight on c6 with the Bishop. This move is written as Bxc6+. Notice the “+” sign. This represents “check” since Black’s King is now in check.   White just moved his pawn to d4. Black’s next move exd3(ep), is a special move called “en passant” capturing white’s d4 pawn in passing while moving his pawn to d3 – as if the pawn had moved 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. In the rare game, a player has promoted the pawn to a Knight with checkmate.   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 was played.   In this next position, black makes a winning move, d4++, pawn to d4 CHECKMATE! By now you may have guessed that this game was created for moves illustration. It’s true, White has made some rather questionable moves.   That’s all you need to know about standard Algebraic Chess Notation! You’ve learned the notation standards and how to indicate the special moves check (+) en passant (ep) castling (0-0 or 0-0-0) checkmate (++). If you wish to take this a step further, you can learn about annotating a chess game, a form of analysing the game in notation form so that others view the annotators opinions of moves that were made.   Extra: Chess 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. Diving into this will help you improve your game as a chess player and you’ll be able to advance strides ahead of your friends. In addition to writing the moves themselves, chess players will comment on the strengths and weakness of chess moves with chess move annotation symbols. These are some of the symbols you’ll see … Black’s move ! Good move !! Excellent move ? Bad move ?? Terrible move (blunder) !? Interesting move ?! Dubious move Notice how some of these comments have been placed on the scoresheet shown above. With this introduction to chess notation you should be ready to record and reply games with condifidence.
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Education

Raphael Neff

How would you spend your downtime in space?

For entertainment during their mission, astronauts often pack games in a personal locker. Astronaut Greg Chamitoff packed this chess set with added fabric fasteners so the pieces wouldn't float away. During his rest time, he played with flight controllers around the world. (photo credit NASA International Space Station) Eventually a "Space vs. Earth" chess match was set up in which Chamitoff in space faced off against the third grade U.S. national chess championship team on Earth. People voted online on possible moves the team posted. Earth won. You can view Chamitoff's chess set up close if you make a visit to the Space Center Houston in Texas. This chess set was once speeding at five miles per second, 210 miles above the Earth, on shuttle mission STS-124. Chamitoff added Velcro to the chess pieces to keep them from floating away in weightlessness. He played long-distance chess during his mission in his off time with station control centers around the world.  Chamitoff was undefeated until he played a down-to-earth meeting with his opponents in Bellevue, WA. Ten students from Stevenson Elementary had recently achieved high rankings at the National Scholastic Chess tournament. The students would select 4 possible moves together, and put them out to the public for vote, the process facilitated by the US Chess Federation. Eventually Earth won. Although, Chamitoff did not know the students personally, but they became friends over video. Six months and 21 days after the match began, they finally met in person. “Oh boy, you guys are amazing,” Chamitoff said after he strode into a small ballroom to greet his opponents, from Stevenson Elementary School in Bellevue. Their elevated chess play was largely thanks to Chess4Life which enabled the kids to not only excel at the game but train and develop key life skills.
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Education

Raphael Neff

32 Interesting Chess Facts to Impress Your Friends

Do you enjoy chess? If so, you'll love these 32 interesting chess facts! These facts will impress your friends and make you seem like a chess expert. Did you know that... - chess is the most popular board game in the world? - chess was invented in India? - there are over 700 million chess players in the world? Learn more about this fascinating game with these amazing facts! #1 Initially, the Queen could only move one square at a time, diagonally. Later, she could move two squares at a time, diagonally. It wasn't until Reconquista Spain, with its powerful queen Isabella, that the Queen became the strongest piece on the board. #2 The number of possibilities of a Knight's tour is over 122 million. #3 A computer called DeepThought became the first computer to beat an international grandmaster in November 1988, Long Beach, California. #4 The word "Checkmate" in Chess comes from the Persian phrase "Shah Mat," which means "the King is dead". #5 The longest chess game theoretically possible is 5,949 moves. #6 If you put one grain of wheat on the first square of the chessboard, two on the second, four on the third, eight on the fourth, and so on, how many grains of wheat do you need to put on the 64th square? The answer is 9,223,372,036,8 54,775,808(approximately 9.22x10^18) grains of wheat. #7 The new pawn move, where pawns were allowed to advance two squares on their first move instead of one, was first introduced in Spain in 1280. #8 The longest chess game ever was I.Nikolic - Arsovic, Belgrade 1989, which ended in 269 moves. The game was a draw. #9 According to America's Foundation for Chess, there are 169,518,829,100,544,000,000,000,000,000 (approximately 1.70x10^29) ways to play the first 10 moves of a game of chess. #10 There are 400 different possible positions after one move each, 72,084 different possible positions after two moves each, and over 9 million different possible positions after three moves each... 318 billion different possible positions after four moves each. #11 Chess clocks were first used in 1883, and the first world chess championship was held in 1886 #12 The first printed chess book was completed three years after Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas - in 1495. #13 Chess was invented around 550 AD in Northwestern India. Its early form was called chaturaṅga, literally "four divisions of the military" - infantry, cavalry, elephantry, and chariotry. These forms are represented by pieces that would become the modern pawn, knight, bishop, and rook. #14 600 AD is the first clear reference to chess, in a Persian manuscript that describes chess coming to Persia (Iran) from India. #15 From the starting position, there are eight different ways to Mate in two moves and 355 different ways to Mate in three moves. #16 Dr. Emanuel Lasker from Germany retained the World Chess Champion title for more time than any other player ever: 26 years and 337 days. #17 In 1985, the Soviet player Garry Kasparov became the youngest World Chess Champion ever at the age of 22 years and 210 days. Magnus Carlsen nearly beat this record at 22 years 11 months 24 days November 23, 2013. #18 The first Chessboard with alternating light and dark squares appears in Europe in 1090. #19 Albert Einstein was a good friend of World Chess Champion Emanuel Lasker. In an interview with the New York Times in 1936 Albert said, "I do not play any games. There is no time for it. When I get through work I don't want anything which requires the working of the mind." He did take up Chess in his later life. #20 Rookies, or players in their first year, are named after the Rook in Chess. Rooks generally are the last pieces to be moved into action and the same goes for Rookies. #21 Blindfold chess is an impressive skill that many stronger chess players develop. It requires a keen ability to visualize the board clearly. National Master Elliott Neff played 12 games blindfolded simultaneously, winning 11 of them. #22 There are well over 1,000 different openings, including variations within larger openings/defenses that one can learn. #23 Chess sets normally have 32 pieces. But it has become popular to include 2 extra queens making it 34. The two spare queens can be used in pawn promotion. #24 Notable American mathematician Claude Shannon calculated the number of sensible chess games to be around 1040 games. For comparison, the number of atoms in the observable universe is roughly estimated to be 1080. That may be the reason it's the most timeless game #25 Though affected by several factors including time allotted, it has been calculated that the average number of moves in a tournament game with professional players is roughly 40. #26 The term "zugzwang," describes a situation in chess where a player would prefer not to move at all when it's his turn because moving any piece would worsen his current position. A player who is forced to make a move in this situation is said to be "in zugzwang". #27 While playing a game of chess in France, Benjamin Franklin reportedly took his opponent's King after she inadvertently put it in check. When she said, "Ah, we don't take kings so" Franklin replied, "We do in America." #28 In 1770, a man invented a machine that could play a strong game of chess against a human opponent. This mysterious player was nicknamed The Turk (as was the machine itself). It wasn't until 1857 that it was revealed to be a hoax (a chess master was hiding in the machine). #29 The word “gambit” is specifically a chess term, now generalized to mean a "sacrifice for advantage". #30 In 1999, chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov played The World in a game of chess that lasted over four months. Over 50,000 people from more than 75 countries participated in the game with moves being decided by majority vote. Garry ended up winning on turn 62 when 51% of The World decided to resign. #31 Before 1600, a game of chess could be won by capturing all of the opponent’s pieces, leaving a bare king; a style of play known as "annihilation". In Medieval times, players considered it nobler to win by checkmate, so annihilation became a half-win for a while until it was abandoned. #32 The longest recorded tournament chess match lasted 20 hours and 15 minutes and resulted in a draw.
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Education

Raphael Neff

Students with varied chess skill levels in the same class

Have you ever found it challenging to lead a chess class because it included both beginners and advanced players? Elliott Neff of Chess4Life easily breaks down this question that has recently surfaced more often. Within a few minutes, Elliott will help you understand a breakthrough concept that's proven in classes at Chess4Life.    How to Reach Varied Chess Skills in the Same Class How do you lead a chess class including beginners through advanced players? First, divide the class into categories as follows: Don't know how the pieces move Know piece movement but need the basics More experienced Ideally you need one or more assistants, even if they have little to no chess experience. With 2 groups, have the advanced group start with a practice game. Have them write down moves with chess notation. Start beginner students with a very short lesson on one of the piece movement rules. Then practice with a fun activity to build the skill. Next, advanced players now have a lesson while beginners play practice games with all the pieces they known how to move. What if you have 3 groups and just 1 assistant? Identify an activity that can work with all skill levels! For example, With pawns setup on the board, advanced players help beginners learn rules. The students become teachers! During practice time, beginners play together while advanced students play each other. Have an activity with a goal. The advanced players win the game by playing a pawn across the board first! Beginners simply work together to help each other get pawns across the board Notice ONE activity with multiple levels of challenge. Remember, strive in class to engage every student!
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Education

Raphael Neff

Keeping students engaged and interested in chess class

With chess in the classroom, a number of questions frequently surface among Chess House followers. In fact there are a few perplexing challenges that teachers and coaches face even with an enthusiastic group of kids who want to learn chess! Having a grasp of how to deal with these unique challenges in the classroom can make all the difference to your sanity and success. That's why I reached out to Elliott Neff for some answers. He's overly qualified to address these topics and on-the-spot graciously offered to help Chess House subscribers and followers with these insights.   Summary Points > You don't need to be a strong chess player to be an effective teacher.> Tip #1 - Introduce just ONE concept at a time, then have students practice it before moving on.> Have students play a FUN activity or game that builds the ONE concept.> Tip #2 - Before moving on to a new concept, start every lesson by using a fun activity that reviews the prior lesson's ONE key concept.> By introducing just ONE concept and then students having fun playing engaging activities, you will avoid overwhelming any students, and indeed build the excitement and interest in coming back to learn more! You can download the free resource, 6 Key Chess Club Guide. If you have questions about this topic or any other Chess in Education questions that perplex you, please discuss below this article. We at Chess House, along with Elliott, are here to help your program have the tools and ideas to succeed! Elliott Neff is a National Master in Chess, author of A Pawn’s Journey, and Founder/CEO of Chess4Life, helping kids develop life skills through the game of chess. He inspires audiences through sharing the life strategies we can learn from the game of chess. His incorporation of chess into these presentations frequently involves playing multiple opponents at once, sometimes while blindfolded! Elliott holds the Professional Chess Coaching Certification Level V, the highest awarded certification by the United States Chess Federation. Elliott’s work is endorsed by > Grandmaster Varuzhan Akobian> Mary Miller, co-creator of The Dream Manager program> Robert Katende, Founder and Director of SOM Chess Academy in Uganda, coach to Phiona Mutesi of the Queen of Katwe.> and many others
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Education