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Understanding Chess Notation: Recording Your Moves

Unlock the power of chess notation and learn how to record and analyze your moves like a pro.

Chess notation is the method used to record and analyze chess games. It is an essential tool for players who want to improve their game and understand their opponents' strategies. Notation is an essential skill for any serious chess player, as it is required for recording moves during tournament play and reviewing games for analysis and improvement. Understanding chess notation is relatively easy, and it can help you improve your game, so let's take a closer look.

The Chessboard

The chessboard is a grid of 64 squares, alternately light and dark, arranged in an eight-by-eight pattern. The vertical columns of the board are called files, and the horizontal rows are called ranks. Each square on the board has a unique name that is determined by its file and rank. The files are labeled a through h, and the ranks are numbered 1 through 8. The square in the lower-left corner of the board is called a1, and the square in the upper-right corner of the board is called h8.

The Pieces

Each chess piece has a unique symbol that is used in chess notation. Here are the symbols for each piece:
  • King: K
  • Queen: Q
  • Rook: R
  • Bishop: B
  • Knight: N
  • Pawn: no symbol
The knight is represented as "N" because the king already starts with "K".

Recording Moves

In chess notation, each move is recorded by indicating the starting and ending square of the piece that is moved. The starting square is given first, followed by a dash or hyphen, and then the ending square. For example, if a white pawn moves from e2 to e4, it is recorded as e2-e4. If a black knight moves from g8 to f6, it is recorded as Ng8-f6.


If a piece captures an opponent's piece, the letter 'x' is inserted between the starting and ending squares. For example, if a white pawn on d4 captures a black pawn on e5, it is recorded as d4xe5. If a black knight on f6 captures a white pawn on e4, it is recorded as Nxf6.


Castling is a special move in chess in which the king is moved two squares toward a rook on the player's first rank, then the rook moves to the square over which the king crossed. There are two types of castling: kingside castling and queenside castling. Kingside castling is recorded as 0-0, and queenside castling is recorded as 0-0-0.

En Passant

En passant is a special pawn capture that can occur when a pawn moves two squares from its starting position and lands next to an opponent's pawn on the same file. The opponent's pawn can capture the pawn "en passant" (in passing) by moving diagonally to the square that the pawn passed over. This move is recorded by indicating the starting and ending squares of the capturing pawn, just like a normal capture. For example, if a white pawn on d5 moves to d6 and is captured en passant by a black pawn on e5, it is recorded as exd6. 
Note that some players may include the abbreviation 'e.p.' to indicate en passant captures in their notation, but this is not necessary.


If a pawn reaches the opposite side of the board, it can be promoted to any other piece except for a king. The piece that the pawn is promoted to is indicated by appending the symbol of the promoted piece to the end of the move. For example, if a white pawn on h7 reaches the eighth rank and is promoted to a queen, the move is recorded as h7-h8Q.

Check and Checkmate

When a player's king is attacked by an opponent's piece, it is said to be "in check." This is indicated in chess notation by adding a plus sign (+) to the end of the move. If a player's king is in check