In chess, it is important that we have a way of writing the moves played in a game. This is called keeping score. We also need a way of talking chess, telling someone else what move was made or suggesting a move to be made. It is important that anyone on a chess team learn how to write and talk chess moves. Here is how we do this.


Starting position with chess letters and numbers


           The numbers and letters along the edge of the board are to help you write and talk chess moves. Each square has a name. You name a square by using the letter and number for that square. For example, the square the king is on at the start of the game is e1. The square the pawn in front of the queen is on at the start of the game is d2. Each square has a name using a letter and number for it. The letter is a small letter (not a capital letter).

           We say what a move is by saying what was moved and where it went. For example, if we move the knight on the king side of the board out two squares and over one square toward the center––its favorite square––that move is Nf3. As you see, we use a letter to say what piece was moved. (The reason we use an N for the knight is the letter K is used for the king.) Every piece except the knight uses the first letter of its name, as below.


K is king     Q is queen     R is rook     B is bishop     N is knight


For a pawn, we do not use any letter (instead of using a P). If you move the pawn in front of the king two squares, this is written as e4. If you move the pawn in front of the queen one square, this is written as d3. So if no letter is used, we know it must have been a pawn move.

           If there is a capture made with a move, we use an x to show this. So an x means takes. For example, if white plays the first move 1.e4 and black answers 1...d5, a pawn capture at move two by white is written as 2.exd5. That shows the white pawn took the black pawn. If white plays the first move 1.Nf3 and black answers 1...e5 (A terrible move that loses a pawn), the knight taking the pawn at move two is written as 2.Nxe5.

Position after three moves for each player


           In this position, here were the first three moves for each side and how they were written:


White    Black


1.d4      d5

2.c4      e6

3.Nc3   Nf6


Here are the rules on how to write chess moves:

(1) All the moves are numbered, with a dot after the number.

(2) Pieces use a capital letter, squares use a small letter.

(3) Castling is written as 0-0 for castling on the king side, or 0-0-0 for castling on the queen side.

(4) If a move is a check, we put a + after it. So 3.Bb5+ means white checked black at move three.

(5) Sometimes we get a move where we have to say which of two pieces was moved to a square. For example, if we had a knight on c3 and a knight on e3, and we played a knight to d5, we would have to say which knight went there. (Both knights here can go to d5.) We do this by saying what square the knight came from. So if our knight on c3 went to d5, we write this as Ncd5. (As you see, all we need to do is give the letter of the square it came from, as this is enough to tell which knight was moved.)

(6) If we make a capture using the en passant rule, this can be written as:  dxc6 e.p.

(7) If we queen a pawn, this can be written as d8(Q).

(8) A checkmate is written like this:  10.Qxf7 mate  (or this way:  10.Qxf7#)

(The white queen took on f7 at move ten and mated the black king).

(9) If a player gives up, we use the word resigns.

(10) If we want to say if a move was good or bad (not required), we can do it this way:

        Put  ?  after a bad move.    Put  !  after a good move.


In order to play on a chess team or in a chess tournament, or to read a book about chess, you need to learn how to read and write chess moves. It is a good idea to practice this by keeping score even when you play a friendly game in the chess club.


Contributed by Bob Ciaffone, a coach from Michigan

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