Learn how to easily read or write the notation of chess moves. This is especially useful for kids and beginners. Whenever you refer the chess games by others to learn from their games, all you get is bunch of letters, numbers and special symbols. Unless you know how to decipher them, you can not understand the moves or the game. The moves are written in a notation called Standard Algebraic Notation or SAN
Standard Algebraic Notation (SAN)
Standard Algebraic Notation or SAN is the short form for defining the chess moves. Each notation gives the information of the piece which is moved, square, whether the move results in a capture, check, checkmate, promotion or castling.
The square names are between a1 and h8 among the 64 squares in the chess board.
Each move is identified by the piece followed by the destination square. Pawn moves are exceptional in this move notation where only the destination square is mentioned For example the pawn movement from a2 to a3 is defined by the notation a3 whereas the movement of knight from b1 to a3 is defined by Na3.
Capture of piece
The letter x is used to identify a capture. The capturing piece name followed by x followed by the destination square during a capturing move. In case of Pawn is the capturing piece, the file of the capturing pawn’s source square is mentioned.
For example dxe5 defines that the pawn from file d captures the piece at the square e5.
En passant capture
In case of en passant capture, the file of the capturing pawn’s source square followed by a combination of the letter x and the destination square of the capturing piece is mentioned. For example cxd6 mentions that the pawn from c file captures the pawn at d file through en passant capture.
- If the files of the pieces are different, then the file of the capturing piece is mentioned. For example, the black rook at d3 can be captured by the white rooks at a3 and g3. A simple notation of Rxd3 does not give information on which white rook captures the black rook. Hence the notation given is Raxd3 in case the white rook at a file captures the black rook or Rgxd3 in case the white rook at g file captures the black rook
- If the files of the pieces are same, then the rank of the capturing piece’s source square is mentioned. For example, the notation given is R1xd3 in case the white rook at d1 captures the black rook or R6xd3 in case the white rook at d6 captures the black rook
- Complex board positions arrive at the end game where a player might have promoted several pawns which can be promoted so that a clear identification about the capturing piece is required. If both the file and rank of the pieces are not sufficient to identify the capturing piece, as shown below, then the origin square is added to the notation. In case of the white queen from rank 1 capturing the black rook at e4, the notation giving rank alone is not enough. Both the queens at b1 and e1 have rank 1. Hence, if the white queen at b1 captures the black rook then the notation is Qb1xe4. If the white queen at e1 captures the black rook then the notation is Qe1xe4.
The Pawn promotion is identified by the combination of the destination square, symbol = and the piece selected after the promotion. The piece selected after promotion could be among Queen, Rook, Knight and Bishop. For example, the pawn at b2 advances to b1 and promoted to a queen. Corresponding notation is b1=Q
A checkmate is identified by the addition of symbol # to the notation. For example, the black king can not escape the attack by the white queen movement from g3 to c7. Hence it is a checkmate and the notation for checkmate is Qc7#
End of the game
End of the game is identified any of the following
- 1-0 for white as the winner
- 0-1 for black as the winner
- 1/2-1/2 for the draw of the game
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Table of Contents
- Standard Algebraic Notation (SAN)
- Square names
- Piece names
- Move notation
- Capture of piece
- Disambiguation Moves
- End of the game