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Descriptive Chess Notation

For several hundred years chess games have been recorded. In fact databases are full of chess games between masters of the 1800s and even earlier. Chess is one of the few sports where a blow by blow record of events can be accurately recreated from a few notes on a sheet of paper. We even have records of games played by such famous historical figures as Napoleon. The method of recording came to be known as "chess notation". It is a kind of shorthand, but it is relatively easy to understand. What at one time we simply called chess notation, we now call "descriptive notation" to diferentiate it from the newer, now more accepted algebraic notation.

descriptive chess notation illustrated
A modern beginner does not necessarilly need to learn descriptive notation at the begining of their chess journey. However, it is a handy thing to know when perusing old chess books and even discussing or thinking about chess. One of the nice things about descriptive notation is that it is, in some ways, more intuitive than algebraic notation. The moves of a piece are designated based on the begining position of the chess pieces.

In fact, descriptive notation appears the same when viewed from either the black side or the white side. In other words a black move KN1-KB3 is the King's knight moving from its initial position to the spot directly before the pawn in front of the bishop on the king's side. A white move of the knight right across from it looks precisely the same in notation. The only difference would be its position in the numbering of the moves. For example, if black's move was on the second move of the game, it would look like this 2. ...,KN-KB3. And white's response on move three would be 3. KN-KB3, ....

Special moves are designated in special ways. An "x" is used to designate a capture. Castling king side is "KR" and castling queen side is "QR". Check is denoted by "ch", and "e.p." is the en passant maneuver.

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