Descriptive Notation is one method for recording chess games, and at one time was the most popular notation (later replaced by algebraic notation). Descriptive notation exists in many language-based variants, the most prevalent being English descriptive notation and Spanish descriptive notation. Most of the older chess books and magazines will annotate games using this method.
In Descriptive notation, everything is counted from the back row to the far row for both sides, i.e. white’s row 1 is black’s row 8. The files are named after the piece which occupies it, and whether it is king side or queen side. The format of the notation is name the piece and tell where it goes.
The descriptive method names the files according to the piece in the initial position. Reading from left to right, the first file is the Queen Rook (QR)file, the next file is the Queen Knight (QN) file, then the Queen Bishop (QB) file, then the Queen (Q) file, then the King (K) file, then the King Bishop (KB) file, then the King Knight (KN) file, then the King Rook (KR) file.
The King is K. The Queen is Q. The Knight is N. The Bishop is B. The pawn is P.
The chess squares have different notations, depending upon the White point of view or the Black point of view.
If the pawn in front of the king is moved forward two spaces, it is described, “P-K4”. If the pawn in front of the queenside knight is moved forward one space, it is “P-QN3”. If a knight at K5 captures a rook on Q7, it would be “NxR” or if clarification is needed, “NxR(Q7)” or “N(K5)xR”.
Algebraic Notation is the modern method of recording and describing the moves in the game of chess. It is now standard among all chess organizations and most books, magazines, and newspapers. In English-speaking countries, it replaced descriptive chess notation, which was sporadically used as recently as the 1980s or 1990s. European countries, except England, used algebraic notation before the period when descriptive notation was common.
In Algebraic notation, everything is counted from the white’s queen’s rook’s square, which is the lower left corner of the board. The rows are numbered one through eight, and the files are lettered ‘A’ through ‘H’. The format of the notation is name the piece and tell where it goes. If a pawn is moved, only the destination is named.
The King is K. The Queen is Q. The Knight is N. The Bishop is B. The pawn is notated by the square it is moving to. So if a pawn were to move from e2 to e4, the proper notation would be “e4”.
If the pawn in front of the king is moved forward two spaces, it is described, “e4”. If the pawn in front of the queenside knight is moved forward one space, it is “b3”. If a knight at e5 captures a rook on d7, it would be “Nxd7” or if clarification is needed, “N(e5)xd7”.
You may also see the following symbols in books and magazines of games that are being analyzed.
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