Chess Notation – A History

Chess Notation - A History

Hello Chess for Children kids, Mr C. here to talk to you about chess notation.  Chess notation is the art of writing down your chess moves.

Types of Chess Writing

Most of us today use a form call algebraic notation 1. e4 e5 etc. but it was not too long ago that descriptive notation was all the rage.

You might of heard of or seen descriptive notation it was usually written like this 1. P-K4 P-K5 2. N-KB3 N-QB3 etc.

I myself prefer algebraic because I am lazy and I like the idea of each square having only 1 name. 

Descriptive could get confusing sometimes take for example this N(QN3) x Ra5. Your hand could really cramp up.

This is not as bad as in the days of old when things could get really silly.

White’s Queen Bishop to his King Knight’s third square is an example from Philidor’s book Analysis on the Game of Chess. Dear Reader consider yourself lucky that chess history has progressed towards simplicity in notation and complexity in the game itself.

Computers have their own form of writing about positions and this leads you in the realm of PGN  (Portable Game Notation) files and Fen (Forsyth–Edwards Notation). If you would like to know more about FEN Notation you can do so here.  And you can discover more about PGN files here.

Why do we use Notation? have 3 good reasons to learn notation:

Here are 3 great reasons to learn chess notation
  1.  You can read about games from the past
  2. We can preserve the games that we play for future generations
  3. You can communicate to other chess-player our ideas about chess.

Chess Notation through the Ages

Chess writing has been growing towards simplicity take for example how we would express this move. (See Diagram)
Chess Move Nf3
Chess Move Nf3

In the 1600’s it would have been written like this:

The White King Command his own Knight to move into the third house before his own Bishop


K. Knight to Bishops 3rd


K.Knight to B. 3rd


Kt -KB3





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