Learn how to read pgn in chess

Portable Game Notation (PGN) in Chess

Chess notation

Two chess notations are primarily available. They are Forsyth-Edwards Notation (FEN) and Portable Game Notation (PGN). Fen is used to define a status of a chess game and PGN is used to define the entire game from beginning. PGN is explained here. Detailed explanation of fen is given here.

Portable Game Notation (PGN)

Portable Game Notation or PGN is the format used to store details of a chess game in a text file. This PGN can be read by humans as well as most of the chess engines. Steven edwards devised the format for PGN in 1933.

Infographics of chess PGN
Infographics of chess PGN

Download the large size pdf file of this infographics on PGN at the chess PGN chart page.

Each PGN has two distinct fields. They are

  1. Tag pairs
  2. Move text

Tag pairs

The tag pairs section consists of several tag pairs. Each tag pair is defined in a opening and closing brackets []. Each tag pair has a tag name and tag value. The tag value is enclosed in a double quotes “”. Seven tag roaster is mandatory for every pgn and remaining tags are optional

Seven tag roaster

  1. Event - Defines the name of the match or event
  2. Site - Defines physical location of the match in the form of city, region country format
  3. Date - defines the date of the match in YYYY.MM.DD format. If date is not known, a double question mark will be present
  4. Round - defines round of the game in the event
  5. White - defines name of the white player in Lastname, Firstname format.
  6. Black - defines name of the black player in Lastname, Firstname format.
  7. Result - defines result of the game in the format white score - black score

1 is used to define win and 0 is used to define loss and 1/2 is used for defining draw of the match. Symbol * is used to define if it is an ongoing chess match.

Optional tag pairs

Several tag pairs are optional. These are Annotator, PlyCount, TimeControl, Time in HH.MM.SS format, Termination, Mode and FEN if the initial board setup is for a already started game. If FEN is present, a setup tag pair is mandatory.


Move text

This is used to define the moves in Standard Algebraic Notation (SAN) of the game. Example 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6

For a finished game, the result is added at the end. example : 1. e3 a6 2. Qh5 h6 3. Bc4 Nc6 4. Qxf7# 1-0 . Here white is the winner since it had a checkmate

Checkmate by white
Checkmate by white

[pdf] Download Portable Game Notation (PGN) in Chess pdf and read offline

Download the Portable Game Notation (PGN) in Chess in pdf format and read without internet.

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