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How to Use Chess Notation

Knowing chess notation will help you study great chess games and learn classic moves and strategies.


  • Step 1: Learn the signs Learn the symbol for each piece. Each major piece is indicated by a capital letter. There is no symbol for pawns.
  • Step 2: Learn the symbols for squares Learn the symbol for each square. The rows are numbered one to eight from white's perspective. The columns are indicated by lowercase letters, a through h.
  • Step 3: Learn the symbols for moves Learn the symbols for moves, which are the symbol for the piece followed by the symbol for the square it moves to.
  • TIP: Pawn moves are indicated by the square they move to.
  • Step 4: Record pieces that can move to the same square If two pieces in different columns can move to the same square, use the column letter of the starting square after the piece symbol. If they're in the same column, use the row number instead.
  • Step 5: Signal a capture Use a lowercase x to signal a capture. First record the piece making the capture, then add the x and the square the piece moves to.
  • TIP: Indicate a good move by adding an exclamation point and a bad move by adding a question mark.
  • Step 6: Record castling Record castling. Kingside is indicated by O-O. For queenside, add another -O.
  • Step 7: Show promotions Show promotions by adding an equals sign and the symbol for the new piece.
  • Step 8: List turns together Record each turn on a single line, with white's move first, then a space, followed by black's move. Indicate check with a plus sign and checkmate with a hash sign.
  • FACT: "Deep Blue," an IBM supercomputer, was the first computer to beat a human chess master when it defeated Garry Kasparov in 1997.

You Will Need

  • A chess set
  • Paper and pencil or pen

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