Snapguide

How to de-code chess coordinates & notation

It's like learning a new language. If that's fun for you then read on!

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Chess notation is truly for your inner chess nerd. It requires a proper setup, and some folks like to have a pen and paper handy. For practice, doodling, jotting down evil chess plans...

First, you can save yourself a lot of trouble if you buy one of those durable, roll-out chess-mats found at some game stores. Get one with the coordinates all labeled for you. I no longer have mine :/

The 8 Rows, or Ranks, are labeled 1 - 8, with 1 being closest to white. The 8 Columns, or Files, are labeled a - h, left to right, from white's perspective. A white square should be at white's h1.

The 8 Rows, or Ranks, are labeled 1 - 8, with 1 being closest to white. The 8 Columns, or Files, are labeled a - h, left to right, from white's perspective. A white square should be at white's h1.

Now for some codes. Every type of piece has its own type of code.

K = King. Q = Queen. R = Rook. B = Bishop. N for kNights (K is taken). Pawns have no letter, only coordinates. The pawn in front of the white queen is the "d2 pawn", in the example photo ->

This pawn moved from d2 to d4. In notation you usually write only "d4" on your notepad.

This pawn moved from d2 to d4. In notation you usually write only "d4" on your notepad.

Each line of your game's record will have a pair of moves, written left-to-right for white & black. The log can read top-down or left-right but be sure to use labels! 1) e4 ... e5. 2) Nc3 ... Nf6. Etc

When you make a move, you list the piece by its letter-code, then write the square it moved to. Re1 means your rook moved to e1. If there were 2 rooks, you might write Ra1e1 to be more specific.

Captures are described with an "x". Rxe2 means your rook captured whatever piece that was on e2. Some notations you'll see in a few books have the identity of the captured piece. RxB, or whatever.

Consider this setup.

Consider this setup.

Nxc6 ("kNight takes c6"). Or, NxN, sure...

Nxc6 ("kNight takes c6"). Or, NxN, sure...

"Checks" are indicated by including a + after all the other codes. Checkmate is ++

Bxc6+ ("bishop takes c6, check!")

Bxc6+ ("bishop takes c6, check!")

If you "castle king-side", you write 0-0. Queenside is 0-0-0. (castling is a sneaky chess move where you move your king 2 squares to the corner and put your rook at its side. It's a legit defense!

0-0.

That's the gist of it... Thanks for reading!

  • 1.0 Chessboard
  • 1.0 Paper or journal
  • 1.0 Pen