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Chris Fox's Chess Section

Algebraic Notation

In order to track performance, the player may find it useful to record the moves of his games. Indeed, in official games it is compulsory to do so.

This article describes one notation used to record moves: algebraic notation. Under this notation, each square is given a set of coordinates. The files are lettered in order from a to h, starting from the left-hand edge of the player playing white, and the ranks are numbered in order from 1 to 8, starting from the white end. The white queen's rook therefore starts the game on the a1 square.

The bishop, rook, queen and king are given the letters B, R, Q and K respectively. N is used for the knight, in order to distinguish it from the king. No letter is used to represent a pawn.

Non-capturing moves are written with first the piece then the square on which it lands; for example, Ke4 means "king moves to e4". Pawn moves are written with only the arrival square. If two or more pieces of the same type and colour can reach a square, the rank or file must be given between the piece and the arrival square to show which piece moved, for example Nbd7.

Capturing moves are written with an "x" between the piece and the arrival square; if the examples above had been capturing moves, they would have been written as Kxe4 and Nbxd7. For pawn captures, the file from which the pawn moved is written where the piece would go, for example exf6.

Just as en passant captures are made as if the captured pawn had moved only one square, so the moves are written accordingly, with "ep" written after the move. King's side castling is denoted by "0-0" and queen's side castling by "0-0-0"; note that the number of 0s is equal to the number of squares separating the king and rook before castling. Pawn promotions are denoted by the pawn move followed by the new piece.

Should either player offer a draw, that is denoted by "(=)".

Finally, check is denoted by a "+", and checkmate by a "++" or "#".

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