Did you know that you can actually “read” chess games? It’s true! Chess games can be read–and written down–through something called chess notation. Chess notation is essential if you want to learn about the history of notable matches, and help improve your own game in the process. If you want to learn the basics regarding reading and writing in notes, then consider the following guide that will teach you the most important basics about chess notation.
What is Chess Notation?
Chess notation, sometimes called chess notes for short, is a special notation system created by Philipp Stamma. This system allows people to record and read chess movements, which are typically grouped on a game by game basis. It is the standardized method for recording chess moves, which were previously recorded through descriptions that were often vague and confusing to people who didn’t witness the matches directly.
Knowing chess notation is a must for anyone who is serious about playing chess. It is used in everything from history books about chess, descriptions regarding famous chess games, and even novels and stories about playing chess. Some tournaments will even require players to take down notation, so in some cases it may even be mandatory to learn how to write and subsequently read notation.
The key to understanding it, is understanding how the system was developed. Philipp Stamma developed the system in the 18th century and based it around algebraic formulas which divided the chess into geometrical characteristics based on the squares of the chessboard. Stamma divided the board into geographical coordinates which were dependant on each square of the chess board; in other words, each square has its own “coordinates” in the notation system.
Reading Chess Notation
In order to read, you first need to understand how the board is divided into coordinates. The columns of the board are assigned letters A through H, while the rows are assigned the numbers 1 through 8; each specific piece used in the game is given a unique letter based on its name, with the exception of pawns which do not have unique names. Pawns are typically referred to by numbers rather than letters.
The pieces are assigned the following letters: K(King); Q(Queen); R(Rock); N(Knight); B(Bishop). This is not standardized internationally, however, so these letters may vary with someone who is speaking a language other than English.
Now, moving on to reading the actual moves of the game itself. There are two primary forms of chess notes that you may read or write: short form and long form.
Short form is the simplest type of notation.
In short form, every time a piece is moved, it is recorded using the letter (or in the case of pawns, the number) of the piece combined with the square it has been moved to.
For instance, let’s say the player moves their central pawn two spaces ahead towards the center of the board. In chess notes, this would be required as: “1 e4.” This means that the player moved their pawn (in this case, pawn given the designated number of 1) to the square located in column E, row 4.
However, this changes with long form notation. In long form notation, both the square that the piece is currently on and the square it is moved to is recorded. This can help players better understand the timeline and layout of the game. For instance, using the previous example, the long-form notation would be: “1 e2-e4,” because this means that the pawn started on square e2 and was moved to square e4.
It may be difficult to follow chess notes at first. However, with practice, you will learn to read it with ease. One of the best ways to start learning how to read chess notation is to memorize the placement of each square coordinate, as this will allow you to more easily visualize where the pieces are being moved to during the game.
Writing Chess Notation
Once you understand how to read chess notation, writing chess notation will be fairly simple. You need to have the chess board coordinates memorized so that you know what each square is called when you move your pieces around the board.
If you are writing down notation due to an official tournament regulation which requires you to write it down, then you will likely be given a special chart that makes it easy to organize each recorded chess move in notation. If you are keeping notation at home or otherwise aren’t officially recording it, you can do just as well with a simple lined notebook.
One thing to remember when you are recording your own chess notation is that you will be using this later on as a way to improve your chess game, so the more accurate you can be about it, the better. The chess notation you keep can help you understand where you went wrong–and where you went right–during your chess game. If you made mistakes or had a particularly awesome strategy, you will always have it recorded so that you can learn from your mistakes or keep certain strategies in mind for future games.
Chess Notation Final Thoughts
Chess notation is the best way to record matches for people around the world to read, understand and earn from on their own. If you plan on playing in tournaments or in any sort of official capacity, then you will need to learn chess notation in order to play. Yet learning chess notation is also a great idea even if yous tick to chess as a hobby, as learning it will help you improve your game, read chess novels and other literature, and overall have a better understanding of the game of chess as a whole.
Remember: practice, practice, practice! Start keeping notation records for every game you play and even practice on your own to get a feel for the coordinates and names of each piece and square.