Algebraic Notation Made Easy by Chuck Smith
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Algebraic notation is used almost exclusively in chess literature. It is
very easily learned.
A chess board has eight files [1-8] and eight ranks [a-h]. Algebraic
notation labels each square on the board, based on its file and rank.
| a8 | b8 | c8 | d8 | e8 | f8 | g8 | h8 |
| a7 | b7 | c7 | d7 | e7 | f7 | g7 | h7 |
| a6 | b6 | c6 | d6 | e6 | f6 | g6 | h6 |
| a5 | b5 | c5 | d5 | e5 | f5 | g5 | h5 |
| a4 | b4 | c4 | d4 | e4 | f4 | g4 | h4 |
| a3 | b3 | c3 | d3 | e3 | f3 | g3 | h3 |
| a2 | b2 | c2 | d2 | e2 | f2 | g2 | h2 |
| a1 | b1 | c1 | d1 | e1 | f1 | g1 | h1 |
The board above is viewed from the white side. Files are lettered from a to
h, starting with the left side. Ranks are numbered from 1 to 8, starting
with white's first rank.
So, at the begining of the game, White's King is at e1, and Black's King is
at e8.
In English language notation, each piece except pawns is given an initial:
King: K
Queen: Q
Rook: R
Bishop: B
Knight: N
Notice that the knight's initial is N, so as not to cause confusion with
the king. Pawns are not given initials, as there is never an ambiguity as
to which pawn is being moved (with the possible exception of a capture,
which will be dealt with shortly).
To indicate a move, we state the piece being moved, and the square to which
the piece is being moved. For pawn moves, we only state the square to which
the pawn is being moved. For example, if we move our knight at g1 to the
square f3, we write
Nf3
If we move our (white's) queen's pawn up two squares, we write
d4
Sometimes there are two pieces that can move to the same square. Suppose
that white wants to move his knight at g1 to e2 and he also has a knight on
c3 that can go to e2. Simplely say Nge2 and there is no confusion as to
what knight you are talking about. The secret is to say where you are
leaving and where are you landing. This one little piece on notation
problem can cause many heartaches when not done correctly.
To indicate a capture, The majority of players use the symbol x. Example:
Black captures White's king pawn with the knight at c6. For example, if a
piece give the piece symbol such as N or B and say Nxe6 or Bxh3. When it is
a pawn say exd5 or gxf6.
King-side castling is denoted O-O, and Queen-side castling is denoted O-O-O.
Now to explain the special case of pawn capturing pawn en passant. A pawn
that advances two squares on its first move can be captured only on the
responding move as if it had only moved one square.
White pawn(capital P) on e5. If either Black pawn(small p) moves forward
two squares, the White pawn on e5 can ONLY ON THE NEXT MOVE capture the
Black pawn as though it had moved only one square.
a b c d e f g h
+-----------------+
8 | - = - = - = - = |
7 | = - = p = p = - |
6 | - = - = - = - = |
5 | = - = - P - = - |
4 | - = - = - = - = |
3 | = - = - = - = - |
2 | - = - = - = - = |
1 | = - = - = - = - |
+-----------------+
a b c d e f g h
+-----------------+
8 | - = - = - = - = | The algebraic notation is exd6
7 | = - = - = p = - |
6 | - = - P - = - = |
5 | = - = - - - = - |
4 | - = - = - = - = |
3 | = - = - = - = - |
2 | - = - = - = - = |
1 | = - = - = - = - |
+-----------------+
------
Finally, there is pawn promotion. A pawn that advances to the last rank
(the 8th rank for white, the 1st rank for black) can be promoted to a queen
(Q), rook (R), bishop (B), or knight (N).
a b c d e f g h
+-----------------+
8 | - = - = - = - = | White pawn on d7. If the pawn moves to d8 it will be
7 | = - = P = - = - | promoted.
6 | - = - = - = - = |
5 | = - = - = - = - |
4 | - = - = - = - = |
3 | = - = - = - = - |
2 | - = - = - = - = |
1 | = - = - = - = - |
+-----------------+
a b c d e f g h
+-----------------+
8 | - = - Q - = - = | The pawn has moved to d8, and has been promoted to a
7 | = - = - = - = - | queen.
6 | - = - = - = - = |
5 | = - = - = - = - | The algebraic notation is d8=Q
4 | - = - = - = - = |
3 | = - = - = - = - |
2 | - = - = - = - = |
1 | = - = - = - = - |
+-----------------+
As you can see, algebraic notation is simple and efficient.