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How to Understand Descriptive Notation in Chess Strategy Books
by: chad kimball
"Notation" is a method in chess strategy books that is used to describe the movement of pieces on the chess board, without needing a visual diagram of the chess board for each move. It greatly increases a chess author's ability to describe a large number of chess games in compact form, leaving more room for game analysis. It also allows the author to concentrate on chess strategies and tactics, rather than requiring hundreds and hundreds of cumbersome diagrams of the chess board for each move.

If you are a chess player, aspiring to improve through strategy books, understanding the two chess notation styles is crucial to your improvement. Most chess strategy books are either written in "Descriptive Notation," or "Algebraic Notation."

Descriptive Notation, in general, was used in older chess books and magazines, although it is possible to run into more current chess literature using this notation style as well. There are a huge number of valuable chess books written in this style. I've posted a visual diagram of a chess board describing descriptive notation on my chess strategies site Scroll to the bottom, and click on the resources link to access the diagram.

In chess literature, the term "rank" refers to the rows of the chess board. "File" refers to the columns. If a chess book talks about the "1st rank" it means the "first row." The "a file" refers to the "a column."

In Descriptive notation, the files are named according to the chess piece on that file in its initial position. For instance, QR means "queen's rook" and KB means "king's rook." The diagram on my website mentioned above also shows how the squares have different names/notations depending on if we're describing the white side or the black side. Each square is also described with a number, describing the rank of the square, for instance, QR7 means the queen's rook file in the 7th rank.

The movement of a piece is described by the name of the piece, then a dash, then the name of the square to which it is moving. For instance, Q-QB8 means that the queen is moving to square QB8. Sometimes the square names are shortened a bit if it is obvious which square is being described. Both "KT" and "N" are used to describe a knight.

Important notes: Check is described with a "+" or "ch". A capture is noted with a "x" followed by the piece being captured. If the game has become complicated and it is unclear which piece is being referred to, the description will sometimes note whether it is the kingside or queenside piece being moved. Instead of R-K7, the clearer description would read QR-K7. P-K7=Q means the pawn moves to K7 and is then promoted to a queen. Castling is noted as O-O or O-O-O.

The best way to become familiar with descriptive notation is to go to my chess tactics and chess strategies site, scroll to the bottom, and click on the resources link. On that page I've posted diagrams for the chessboard in descriptive notation, as well as a sample game written in descriptive notation, along with clear diagrams of the chess board so you can easily see which piece is moving.

About the author:
Chad Kimball has been playing chess since he was a young boy, and is now an editor and publisher, publishing chess instruction books and courses on the Internet. He is responsible for bringing an exciting resource to the Internet: "The Grandmaster Strategy Training Library."

This 14 Volume Set of Training Books contains 2,213 Pages of Winning Chess Strategies for the price of a single chess tips book at the bookstore. These 14 books enable you to confidently sit down at the chessboard, knowing that you are prepared with years of tested strategies to DEFEAT your opponent. Click here for more information about this exciting chess resource:

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