Chess notation

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For recording of chess games or chess positions there are different systems of chess notation .

In order to write down the moves during the game , the players usually use preprinted game forms . A single chess position can be represented in the chess literature by a diagram , on which fixed symbols represent the individual stones or pieces.

Historical review

Depiction of the basic position in Jakob Mennel's Schachzabel game (1520)

It has taken a long time in chess history to find an efficient way of describing moves. The algebraic representation, which only gradually became established over the descriptive method (see descriptive notation ), was first found in Philipp Stamma in 1737 in his Essai sur le jeu des échecs . In Germany, the transition took place relatively early, triggered by the effect of the textbook New Theoretical-Practical Instructions for Chess by Johann Allgaier, first published in 1795 .

Already in the oldest manuscripts and the first European chess books, e.g. B. the works of Lucena (1497) or Ruy López (1561), the positions were visually added to the conditions and solutions of the tasks . The fields that come into consideration for the individual moves were described with letters, the figures were designated with symbols or letters. In particular in the Italian chess works of the 17th and 18th centuries and also in Stamma there were no longer any positional images. The diagrams (initially with printed letters) only reappeared in a French collection of problems published in 1802 and in an edition of the textbook by Philidor , which appeared in Strasbourg after the author's death in 1803. In the books of English authors such as William Lewis, there are finally illustrations that were composed of movable types or printed figure symbols and come astonishingly close to the diagrams used to this day.

Chess charts

A chess diagram typically shows all 64 squares, maintaining the pattern of a chess board, and figurines or symbols of the chess pieces. In chess composition , the representation of the diagram is usually associated with a certain requirement. The additional figures of the fairy tale chess are represented by special figurines. In game analyzes, diagrams are often set at critical positions and at high points, for example before a combination. Most of the time the board is represented in such a way that the white pawns move up and the black pawns move down. In chess problems, the current right to move is indicated by "1." for White and "1." ... “is displayed for black. It can also be the case that the board is turned upside down when Black makes a move, so that the black pawns move upwards.

Algebraic notation

Chess diagram and algebraic notation

Algebraic notation is used worldwide today.

Starting from the lower left field, seen from the perspective of the player with the white pieces, the vertical lines are marked with the lowercase letters “a” to “h” and the horizontal rows with the numbers “1” to “8”. Each of the 64 fields receives the combination of the letter of the line and the number of the row on which the field lies as a unique name.

Example: "g5"

The figures are symbolized by the capital initial letters of their names: "B" = pawn (rarely used, pawn moves are usually without a figure designation), "S" = knight, "L" = bishop, "T" = rook, "D" = queen, "K" = king.

A figure on a certain space is described by the combination of figure and field name.

Example: "Ke1", "(B) b7"

A list of piece names in other languages ​​can be found in the article Chess Piece .

Detailed notation

In the detailed algebraic notation of a chess move, the symbol of the piece, the starting and the target square are given. An exception to this are the pawn moves, where the piece symbol is omitted.

Moves on a free space are marked with a half-square (“-”) and chop moves with an “x” or a multiplication mark (“×”) between the starting and target spaces. A chess bid is given a “+” (rarely also a “†”) behind the move, mate is indicated by a “#” (rarely also by “++” or “‡”). If a pawn is converted into another piece, the letter symbol of this piece is shown after the move. A small castling is noted as “0–0” and a large castling as “0–0–0”. Striking en passant is followed by an “e. p. ”. A draw offer as well as a request for a draw must be noted by both players with the symbol "(=)".

Examples: "e2 – e4", "Nb1xc3 +", "Td1 – d8 #", "e7 – e8D", "f5xg6 ep"

Abbreviated algebraic notation

  a b c d e f G H  
8th Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg 8th
7th Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess nlt45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess nlt45.svg Chess --t45.svg 7th
6th Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess nlt45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg 6th
5 Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess nlt45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg 5
4th Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg 4th
3 Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess nlt45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg 3
2 Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg 2
1 Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg 1
  a b c d e f G H  

The moves of the white knight on c7 in short notation are: "Sa8", "S7a6", "Scb5", "Scd5", "Sc7e6" and "Sce8".

Template: checkerboard / maintenance / new

In the short notation , in contrast to the detailed notation, the starting field and - except for castling - the semi-quadrant are omitted. So you only enter the figure symbol, for pulls the "x" and the target space. If the noted move would no longer be unambiguous, then it is made unambiguous by additionally specifying the row or line of the starting square. If the indication of a line or a row leads to a clear description of the train, according to a recommendation by FIDE, the line should preferably be indicated.

Examples: "Bc4", "Bxc4", "b4", "axb4", "fxg6 ep", "Sec4", "Sexc4", "T1c7", "cxd8D".


Bc4 Bishop moves to c4
Bxc4 The bishop moves to c4 and captures an opposing piece there
b4 Pawn moves to b4
axb4 Pawn a3 moves to b4 and captures an opposing piece there
fxg6 e. p. Pawn f5 moves to g6 and captures the opposing pawn on g5 in passing
Sec4 the knight on the e-file moves to c4
Sexc4 the knight on the e-file hits c4
T1c7 the rook on the first row moves to c7
cxd8D Pawn on c7 takes on d8 and turns into a queen
cxd8S + The pawn on c7 takes on d8, turns into a knight and offers check

Figurine notation

The different letter abbreviations in the individual languages ​​can make it difficult to understand internationally. As an alternative, the letters used for the figures are therefore occasionally replaced by the figure symbols, so-called figurines , which are also used in the diagrams. This form of algebraic notation is called figurine notation .

Bauer (usually not used)

Examples: "e2 – e4", "♘b1xc3 +", "♖d1 – d8 #", "e7 – e8♕", "f5xg6 ep"

Corresponding glyphs to represent the figures are coded in the Unicode block Various symbols from U + 2654 to U + 265F.

Alternatives within the algebraic notation

Instead of the cross, the colon can also be used, for example “Nb1: c3 +” or “L: c4”. In the short notation, the colon was sometimes added afterwards, for example "Bc4:".

When capturing with a pawn, the punch mark is also left out, for example “ab4” or even shorter “ab” if this is clear.

Even nowadays, a uniform notation is not used everywhere, the magazine New In Chess, for example, omits the symbols for a chess command and the capture.


Notation of games and move orders

In the notation of chess games, the individual moves of each of the two parties are referred to as half- moves , and one half- move by White is combined with the subsequent half- move by Black to form one move in the game. The moves are counted in ascending order as the game progresses. The first move always counts as the first move, either in the basic position or another given position, for example on a diagram.

Example 1. e2 – e4 e7 – e5 2. Bf1 – c4 Bf8 – c5 ”.

If you want to specify a variant in the commentary on a chess game, then you take over the counting of the game. If the variant starts with a black move, the preceding white move is replaced by a placeholder such as "..." or "-". To differentiate, the actual course of a game or a main line is often shown in bold font, detailed notation or in columns, while variants appear in normal font and short notation. Variants can be separated by commas and brackets and clearly displayed using a numbering system.

Example: “ 1. e2 – e4 e7 – e5 2. Bf1 – c4 Bf8 – c5 , or: 2.… Nb8 – c6”.

Tournament chess

In competitive chess, preprinted game forms are mostly used, in which a number is already given and only the moves have to be entered. Such forms are produced as loose pieces of paper or bound in booklets for several batches. In tournaments with a regular cooling off period , the players are obliged to take notes of their own and opposing moves. This obligation is usually not applicable for games with a shortened time. The world chess federation FIDE prescribes the abbreviated algebraic notation as the notation system for all tournaments and competitions it organizes, whereby native-speaking abbreviations of the figures are allowed. FIDE recommends figurine notation for use in chess books and magazines .

Correspondence chess

In correspondence chess, a modified algebraic notation is usually used. This is described in the article Correspondence Chess.

Game and tournament results

The result of the game is usually given as “1–0” or “1: 0” if White wins, and “0–1” or “0: 1” if Black wins. If the last move does not produce a mate, the game has mostly been abandoned or the losing player has had no more time to think. A draw (tie) is marked with “½ – ½” or “½: ½”.

The results of a tournament are often broken down into wins, draws and losses, since the sum of the points scored does not determine the number of wins. The indication “+1 = 3 −2” indicates one win, three draws and two defeats.

Chess composition

For positions in chess compositions , unless the Forsyth-Edwards notation is used, note stone by stone. First the pieces of white, then of black and in this example also the solution move:

Ka5, Th6, Bb1, b6, Ne5, f5, Bb2, d4, e6, f3 - Kd5, Ba6, b7, b3, d3, e7, h7 - 1.Nxd3

The abbreviation for the figure is mentioned only once (B stands for farmer). White has his king on a5, as well as a rook, two bishops, two knights and four pawns on the board.


The evaluation of the position can also be represented by symbols. The pioneer here was the magazine Schachinformator , published in Belgrade since 1966 , whose symbols have spread around the world. They make it possible to comment on games beyond language barriers. New In Chess magazine, published in the Netherlands since 1984, and the United States Chess Federation have developed further symbol systems.

When commenting on chess games, it is common to add good moves with an appended “!”, Very good moves with a “!!”, mistakes with a “?”, Gross mistakes with a “??”, noteworthy moves with a “!” ? ”And to mark dubious moves with a“?! ”. (!) and (?) are somewhat “weaker” characters than! and? that relativize the quality or importance of the move.

Train evaluation symbols
!! brilliant move (e.g. Ta1 – b1 !!)
! or (!) good move
!? interesting move
?! questionable move
? or (?) bad move
?? very bad move or gross mistake
Only move

In chess literature , moves are sometimes commented on with combinations of several exclamation points or question marks. These are not official comment signs, but stand for special situations in the game, such as unexpected moves in the opening or when the opponent is short of time .

Symbols for position evaluation from the chess informator
= balanced / draw position
+ = slight advantage for white
= + slight advantage for black
± clear advantage for white
clear advantage for black
+ - white winning position
- + black winning position
unclear position
∞ = with compensation for the material / time sacrificed

Assessments of the position are added after the noted move and can be combined with move assessments, for example 12.… Bb4 ?? 13. axb4! + - In the end , this means: The twelfth move by black player Bb4 was a very bad move; after White's strong move axb4, White achieves a winning position. However, the train evaluations in particular are very subjective; different commentators can judge one and the same move in a game quite contrary.

These characters are written in front of the associated variant or the associated train.

More symbols from the chess informator
worse is ...
= is about the same ...
better is ...
with the idea ...
Development lead
O Space advantage
with attack
with initiative
with counterplay
only move
» Kingside
« Queenside
> Additional builders
time pressure
|| et cetera
N innovation
R. Different trains
RR Editor's comment
(ch) national championship
(izt) Interzonal tournament
(ct) Candidates tournament
(m) match
(oil) Olympics
corr. Remote game
1-0 White won
0: 1 Black won
½: ½ draw
♙3 / 3c Reference to the encyclopedia of chess endings


  • "34. … Rd4 (∆Dd5) “: Black plays the rook on d4 in order to later let the queen follow on d5.
  • "22nd … Fxe6 (∩22.… Bxd5 !? 23. exd5 Rxd5∓) “: Black takes on e6 with the f-pawn. However, the interesting move 'bishop takes on d5' would have been better, since after 'pawn takes d5' and then 'rook takes d5' Black would have a clear advantage.

Trains after which a diagram has been printed or after which a diagram is to be printed are also marked with D.

Descriptive notation

Bobby Fischer's game form (Olympics Siegen 1970) in descriptive notation

In Anglo-Saxon literature from the period up to the 1980s, one finds predominantly the descriptive notation , called descriptive chess notation in English . With this notation, the fields are not described in a common coordinate system that is common to both players , but rather from the point of view of the player whose move is being described, starting from the starting position of the pieces on his own back row.

For example, the field d3 in this notation has the following designation:

  • Q3 ( queen three ) from the point of view of the white player
  • Q6 from the black player's point of view

Examples of moves in descriptive notation:

  • The train g1-f3 a white knight is in descriptive notation depending on the situation to N-KB3 ( knight to king's bishop three ), N-B3 ( knight to bishop three ranges as a description, if no Springer to c3 and only a move to f3 can), KN – B3 ( king's knight to bishop three , both knights can move to f3), QN – B3 ( queens's knight to bishop three , both knights can move to f3, and knight g1 was on b1 at the beginning of the game).
  • The move Ng8 – f6 of a black knight has exactly the identical notation N – KB3 or N – B3 or KN – B3 or QN – B3 , since this move is notated from the black player's point of view.
  • c7 – c5 becomes P – QB4 ( pawn to queen's bishop four ) or P – B4 (if no pawn can move to f5).

From around 1980 the large Anglo-Saxon chess publishers, especially Batsford , switched to the algebraic notation, so that the descriptive notation can hardly be found in recent literature and current tournament reports.

Computer chess

Portable game notation

On the Internet, games and game collections are often distributed in Portable Game Notation , also known as PGN for short. The files are written in the classic ASCII format and can therefore not only be read by practically all chess programs, but also by text editors. Since PGN is based on the abbreviated algebraic notation (but with English abbreviations of the figure names), it can also be easily read and understood by people.

Forsyth-Edwards notation

For detailed information see FEN . The notation introduced by a chess journalist allows the position of the pieces on the board to be recorded in writing with as little effort as possible. It is part of the PGN specification and is particularly necessary in Fischer Random Chess , since the random starting position of the pieces does not correspond to normal chess and must therefore be noted.

Extended position description

The Extended Position Description (EPD) is a standardized computer-readable notation for chess positions. EPD is similar to FEN and also part of the PGN specification. EPD is used to transmit chess positions and commands between chess programs.

A single EPD consists of a line of text in ASCII format. This text line initially contains four data blocks for describing a position including the right to move and castling options. Following the position descriptions, commands, position evaluations or comment information can appear in a defined format. Several EPDs are combined as a text file with the extension ".epd".

GBR code

The GBR code (after Guy, Blandford and Roycroft ) describes the position on a chessboard using a simple string of characters that is unique for positions with "normal" material. For positions with three or more figures of the same kind, additional information is required to describe the position exactly. The GBR code can be used as an index and a. be used in databases and publications of study collections .


Web links

Wiktionary: Chess notation  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. See diagram in the Philidor edition of 1803
  2. ^ FIDE rules (Appendix, Section E) on game notation
  3. Section 16.2 of the PGN specification (accessed January 5, 2013)