Chess Notation
(The Algebraic System)


Chess Glossary- Chess Notation - Graphic

Chess Notation - less effort to pronounce than, say, Annotated Chess or Chess Annotation.

However you pronounce it, though, it all relates to the same thing:

"A system for recording what moves were made during a game of Chess".

Modern, international Chess uses what's known as the Algebraic System - that is a system of numbers and letters which determine a precise square on the board.

If you're familiar with map reading, you may liken it to a basic grid-reference system, where you first scan left across the grid-map to find your first plot; then scan your eyes upwards to find your second plot ...

Then, you think of an imaginary line running straight along both plots and, where the lines cross, that's your position.


Jump to Algebraic Chess Notation section:
Chess Board | Chess Pieces | Game Log

Algebraic Notation for Recording:
Moves | Castling | Captures | Promotion
Check, Double Check & Checkmate

Chess Notation On The Chess Board

Before that analogy gets out of control, here's how the Algebraic grid-system is applied to a Chess Board:

Annotated Chess System - Algebraic - Naming Squares
  • The 'letters' of the system correspond to an individual column - or "File".

  • The 'numbers' of the system correspond to an individual row - or "Rank".

Jump to Algebraic Chess Notation section:
Chess Board | Chess Pieces | Game Log

Algebraic Notation for Recording:
Moves | Castling | Captures | Promotion
Check, Double Check & Checkmate

Chess Notation For The Chess Pieces

As for the individual Chess pieces, all - except the Pawn, which we'll explain in a sec - have their own capital letter code, so you can tell what piece has moved to which square:

  • N = kNight
  • B = Bishop
  • R = Rook
  • Q = Queen
  • K = King

Firstly, the Knight is represented by the capital letter 'N' because the capital 'K' is already assigned to the more-important King.

Now, to the matter of the Pawn ...

I don't know why the Algebraic Chess Notation system doesn't have it as a capital letter 'P' ... But, it doesn't.

The way you can tell that a Pawn has moved is by mention of the grid reference (e.g. 'c3'), without any capital letter before it.

At the start of the game, if you were to view a Chess Board from the perspective of the Algebraic Chess Notation log, but without the other squares mentioned, it'd look like this:

Chess Notation - Algebraic Board And Pieces - Animated

However, in an actual game, the starting positions aren't recorded - only Moves, Castling, Captures, Promotion, Check, Double-Check and Checkmate are noted down, as we'll take a look at now ...


Jump to Algebraic Chess Notation section:
Chess Board | Chess Pieces | Game Log

Algebraic Notation for Recording:
Moves | Castling | Captures | Promotion
Check, Double Check & Checkmate

Algebraic Chess Notation
- Game Log -

In a game of Chess, whoever commands the White pieces is the player who makes the first move.

Therefore, the Notation Log, Game Log, or whatever you wish to call it, records White's actions first, then Black's actions are recorded:

Battle Log - Header Graphic

Now, let's see how the Game Log accumulates, as each player takes it in turns to make their moves ...


Jump to Algebraic Chess Notation section:
Chess Board | Chess Pieces | Game Log

Algebraic Notation for Recording:
Moves | Castling | Captures | Promotion
Check, Double Check & Checkmate

Algebraic Chess Notation
- Moves -

Note: The moves being made in all following examples are, well, just that - examples just to show how the Notations are recorded.

Other than that, there isn't any specific Strategy or Tactics being shown here.

Battle Log - Header Graphic
  1. e4 ... e5
  2. Nf3 ... Nf6
  3. Bc4 ... d5
  4. d3 ... Be6
  5. Qe2 ... Qe7
  6. g3 ... Nc6

Move 1, White advances his King's Pawn to e4; Black advances his King's Pawn to e5.

Move 2, White brings out his King's kNight to f3; Black mirrors that and brings his King's kNight out to f6.

Move 3, White sends his King's Bishop to c4; Black advances his Queen's Pawn to d5 (this, incidentally, creates a Fork Attack, threatening White's Bishop and King's Pawn, at the same time.)

Move 4, White advances his Queen's Pawn to d3; Black sends his Queen's Bishop forward, to e6.

Move 5, White sends his Queen to e2; Black's Queen goes to e7.

Move 6, White advances his g-file Pawn to g3; Black brings out his Queen's kNight to c6.

Now Watch The Chess Pieces Move


Jump to Algebraic Chess Notation section:
Chess Board | Chess Pieces | Game Log

Algebraic Notation for Recording:
Moves | Castling | Captures | Promotion
Check, Double Check & Checkmate

Algebraic Chess Notation
- Castling -

Battle Log - Header Graphic
  1. 0-0 ... 0-0-0

Move 7, White Castles on the King's side
(0-0); while Black does the opposite and Castles on the Queen's side (0-0-0) of the board.

Now Watch The Chess Pieces Castle


Jump to Algebraic Chess Notation section:
Chess Board | Chess Pieces | Game Log

Algebraic Notation for Recording:
Moves | Castling | Captures | Promotion
Check, Double Check & Checkmate

Algebraic Chess Notation
- Captures -

Battle Log - Header Graphic
  1. exd5 ... Bxd5
  2. Bxd5 ... Nxd5
  3. Nxe5 ... Qxe5
  4. Qxe5 ... Nxe5
  5. Re1 ... Re8
  6. Rxe5 ... Rxe5

Move 8, White's e-file Pawn captures (x) Black's Pawn, on d5; Black's Bishop captures (x) that Pawn of White's, on d5.

Move 9, White uses his active Bishop to capture (x) Black's d5 Bishop; Black uses his King-side kNight to capture (x) White's d5 Bishop.

Move 10, White uses his King-side kNight to capture (x) Black's Pawn, on e5; Black's Queen captures (x) White's e5 Knight.

Move 11, White's Queen captures (x) Black's Queen, on e5; Black's remaining kNight captures (x) White's Queen, on e5.

Move 12, White side-steps his Castled Rook, one square left, to e1; Black tracks his Castled Rook to e8.

Move 13, White uses his active Rook to capture (x) Black's Knight, on e5; Black's active Rook captures that Rook of White's, on e5.

Now Watch The Chess Pieces Capture


Jump to Algebraic Chess Notation section:
Chess Board | Chess Pieces | Game Log

Algebraic Notation for Recording:
Moves | Castling | Captures | Promotion
Check, Double Check & Checkmate

Algebraic Chess Notation
- Promotion -

Got to call attention to another point, here ...

The recording of the Notation, when it comes to Promoting Pawns, is in keeping with FIDE's Handbook - Laws of Chess - Appendix C.12.

However, I have seen variations for recording the Notation, so don't be surprized if you subsequently see different, somewhere else.

For instance, the Chess computer program, Fritz 12, records Promotion like this:

  • Pawn becomes Knight on a8 ... a8=N
  • Pawn becomes Bishop on h1 ... h1=B
  • Pawn becomes Rook on c8 ... c8=R
  • Pawn becomes Queen on f1 ... f1=Q

So, without further ado ...

Battle Log - Header Graphic
  1. a8N ... h1N
  2. b8B ... g1B
  3. c8R ... f1R
  4. d8Q ... e1Q
  5. Nb6 ... Ng3
  6. Nd5 ... Ne2
  7. Nc3 ... Qxc3
  8. Rxc3

Move 1, White promotes his a8 Pawn to a kNight; Black promotes his h1 Pawn to a kNight.

Move 2, White promotes his b8 Pawn to a Bishop; Black promotes his g1 Pawn to a Bishop.

Move 3, White promotes his c8 Pawn to a Rook; Black promotes his f1 Pawn to a Rook.

Move 4, White promotes his d8 Pawn to a Queen; Black promotes his e1 Pawn to a Queen.

Once Promotion has been completed ...

Moves and Captures are recorded as per usual - CAPITAL Initial first, then the square the Piece finishes upon.

Move 5, White sends to b6 his promoted kNight; Black sends to g3 his promoted kNight.

Move 6, White sends to d5 his promoted kNight; Black sends to e2 his promoted kNight.

Move 7, White sends to c3 his promoted kNight; Black sends to c3 his promoted Queen, where it captures (x) White's promoted Knight.

Move 8, White sends to c3 his promoted Rook, where it captures (x) Black's promoted Queen.

(Glad I don't have to say all that too often.)

Now Watch The Chess Pieces Promoting


Jump to Algebraic Chess Notation section:
Chess Board | Chess Pieces | Game Log

Algebraic Notation for Recording:
Moves | Castling | Captures | Promotion
Check, Double Check & Checkmate

Algebraic Chess Notation
- Check, Double Check & Checkmate -

Battle Log - Header Graphic
  1. Bd4+ ... Kg8
  2. Rc8++ ... Kh7
  3. Qh3#

Move 1, White sends his Bishop to d4, where it "Checks" (+) Black's King; Black moves his King out of Check, to g8.

Move 2, White sends his Rook up to c8, where it "Checks" (+) Black's King. Not only that, but that move uncovers White's Queen, which also happens to be "Checking" (+) Black's King ...

Not only is this a Double Check (++), it's also a Discovered Check.

Black escapes his King, temporarily, to h7.

Move 3, White sends his Queen over to h3, placing Black's King in "Check" and, as Black's King has no other legal squares to move to, it's "Checkmate" (#). Game Over, White Wins.

Now Watch The Chess Pieces Check,
Double Check & Checkmate



Jump to Algebraic Chess Notation section:
Chess Board | Chess Pieces | Game Log

Algebraic Notation for Recording:
Moves | Castling | Captures | Promotion
Check, Double Check & Checkmate


Learn more about the Algebraic Chess Notation system, Here.
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