How Games Are Recorded

The moves of a chess game can be recorded in a variety of ways. However, nowadays algebraic notation is the most commonly used and it is this method I will be describing here.

The rows of squares on the chessboard are called ranks and the columns of squares are called files. The ranks are labelled from 1 to 8 and the files are labelled from a to h. We use these numbers and letters to describe where pieces are on the chessboard. In the diagram the blue cross is on the square named f3 and the circle is on c7. Notice how the letter always comes first and the number follows it.

Ranks and Files

There are also some symbols you should know when reading or writing chess notation.

Symbol Meaning Symbol Meaning
K King Q Queen
R Rook B Bishop
N Knight x Captures
+ Check ++ or # Checkmate
O-O Castles King's side O-O-O Castles Queen's side

This is how a game would be recorded:

1. f4
2. fxe5
3. exd6
4. g3
5. Nf3
6. hxg3

The first column is for the White moves and the second column is for the Black moves. When a piece moves its symbol is written first and then its destination square. If a pawn moves the symbol is omitted. For example, Nf3 means the knight moves to the f3 square. f4 means the pawn moves to f4. exd6 means the pawn on the e file captures the pawn on d6. If Black's move is referred to by itself, three dots are put before the move. For example 4...Qg5 means the black queen moves to g5.

This is what the game above would look like on the chessboard:

Du Mont Game Du Mont Game
1. f4 e5 2. fxe5 d6
Du Mont Game Du Mont Game
3. exd6 Bxd6 4. g3 Qg5
Du Mont Game Du Mont Game
5. Nf3 Qxg3+ 6. hxg3 Bxg3#

To complicate matters, sometimes two pieces can move to the same square and it is necessary to make it clear which one has moved.

Rook moves
In the diagram above both the white rooks can move to d1. Therefore, the file on which the piece stands before it moves is indicated.


Rook moves
The diagram shows the rook on f1 has moved to d1. This is written Rfd1.


Sometimes it may be possible that two pieces on the same file can move to the same square.

Rook moves
Here both the rooks can move to the d5 square. To show which rook makes this move we indicate the rank the rook has moved from.
Rook moves
The rook on the seventh rank has moved to d5. We write this as R7d5.


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