How to Learn Chess Notation? Take the easy first steps here


Chess notation

For people who have never play chess there is one thing that seems to be a complicated aspect of it, it of course the indication of chess notations which is a combination of random letters and numbers. Especially for those who have a trauma on their mathematics class, learning the algebraic notation might be challenging for those who are new to the game.

This is a misunderstanding however, you don’t need to learn mathematics in order to learn how to properly write chess notations as they are not related in any way. This article to be specific with discuss how you can you learn chess notations in the most efficient ways possible, keep on reading if you are interested.

Learn the fundamentals of chess notations

First, you need to understand how chess notations are indicated in the first place: different sets of letters and numbers are combined in order to tell a specific square. This will be paired with a capital letter of a piece’s main symbol, the would be K for the King, Q for the Queen, B for the bishop, N for the knight, R for the rook, and pawn having no notation.

If you ever want to understand how to read moves with its chess notation then you should learn its fundamentals, mostly it is about combining a letter with the number and piece’s symbol. It is really not that hard when you can differentiate a file from a rank, each of the file and the rank would have an associated symbol with it.

A file in chess is basically the vertical sections of the board, the ranks on the other hand are horizontal once. Each of the files would have an associated alphabet with it, the a-file, b-file, c-file, and so on, ranks on the other hand are associated with numbers.

With ranks there would be first rank, second rank, third rank, etc., and specific squares would be indicated when you combined the letters (files) with the numbers (ranks). Couple this with symbols of the pieces such K for the king, Q for the queen, B for the bishop, etc., and you get exactly what chess notations are.

For example if you’re talking about Kb4 then it would be a king on the b-file and the fourth rank, chess notations also include where the piece initially is and where it is moving. There is a uniform standard in a chess board that doesn’t change no matter what side of the board you are facing, this means that the notation should be consistent no matter if you are on the white or black side.

Have a look at an exampe here and see if you can make sense of it.

Review your own games while dictating the chess notations

One of the easiest ways to practice with chess notations is to review a game while trying to map out the individual moves, perhaps it is a game that you have recently finished. Look at the game and dictate the notations you think that individual moves will be and confirm them, this is an easy way to practice learning chess notations.

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The best thing about it is that you have the full context of the moves made in the game (since it is literally a game that you played), this means that you can remember most of the moves that will be notated. There is just something about reviewing a game that you have played yourself, it will make the experience more memorable once you recall it.

If you review your own game you will have a personal experience on what has occurred on the board, looking back on it will be much easier. If you have a game that has been played by someone else it would not be as memorable , if it is a game that you know the context of then you can incorporate notations easily.

This kind of practice will also not waste time since you don’t have to look at someone else’s game before you practice notations, you can just play a game and practice being good at notations afterwards. You would hit two birds with one stone, on one hand you are playing a game and on the other you are practicing being good at notations during after the game analysis.

Using lichess and chess.com to practice with chess notations

This is one of the best things about technology, back in the day people had to manually practice in order to learn chess notation (usually in a newspaper or something). Nowadays there are platforms like lichess and chess.com where they present interactive chess boards that have notational symbols on the side, this will make practice easier.

Sure you are likely to be an expert when studying just notations without a guide, however some people prefer learning on the easy mode first before going difficult. If you try to practice notations without a guide chessboard then you might actually hamper your learning curve, try doing it with a practice chessboard at first.

These interactive chess boards have embedded symbols on the side when it comes to its ranks and files, it will make it easier for you to identify a specific square when you play with this. On the analysis section of lichess/chess.com interactive chess boards are integrated, this makes analysis easier.

If you are not comfortable trying to map out notations on your own then feel free to use platforms like lichess and chess.com, they have interactive chess boards that allow individuals to review with notations. Try to come up with the notations of each move at the top of your head and confirm using the platform’s records, this is good for beginners especially.

Participating in chess tournaments to quickly learn chess notations

Another thing that you can do to learn chess notations completely is to participate in formal chess competitions, usually they would require players to input their move in chess notations for record keeping. In chess tournaments people write down their moves at each turn, this will be a good battleground for you to learn notations quickly.

There are some people that would only learn quicker if they are thrown in a field where they are required to improve, participating in a formal chess competition is one way to do this. In chess competitions especially those involving the longer time formats they would require in the annotation of mivesy, especially those that are rated ones.

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This would be a good practice for you to learn chess notations properly, having a long time format also allow you to properly identify the squares and do it correctly. In habit settings one of the most reliable ways to make yourself stick to a routine is to have someone that can make you accountable.

Participating in a formal chess competition is exactly what this is trying to achieve, doing it the wrong way after all will directly lead to a penalty for your side. There are many chess players who have drastically improved the ability to notate the moves after their first tournament , this might be the method that works best for you.

Using modern chess databases for chess notation learning

One of the modern ways that you can learn chess notations quickly is just by going into a database with thousands of complicated chess games and picking one to analyze, you can use this as a reference for your practice. Simply write down the moves without even looking at their indicated notations, then proceed to check how many did you get right at the end of it.

This is something that can work but is usually not the best way to go, however, it is still an option if you are someone who doesn’t learn a lot of chess games. You cannot analyze chess games that you have played on your own, then you can always go to a famous chess database and analyze a game that has been played before.

It is preferable if this is a position that is famous and has a key concept learning, you can also hit two birds with one stone this way. But really it will help you improve on the chess notation aspect since you will analyze positions that are sometimes random, this is a good challenge to have.

Again the best way to learn chess notations is to have a game that you have read on your own and analyze it yourself , however sometimes this may not be too practical. For one you might not be a good chess player and would hate to analyze losing positions, this might be your way to go if you are someone who is low tempered

Reading chess books to learn reading chess notations quickly

Reading a chess book is probably the test of all tests, if one is able to comprehend a traditional book then mastering chess notations should be quick work. Traditional chess books work by notations only (with little visual illustration), this makes readers practice being fluent with chess notations if they ever want to finish the book.

This is probably the best way to learn chess notations, that is to read a book that is full of chess notations and challenge yourself to understand the concepts being dictated. This way you are not only trying to understand the moves within the game and their notations, but you are also trying to learn about the position in general.

If you have read a chess book before you can notice that it is a monster material, most of it are made of chess notations where the reader is expected to be able to follow on their own. This makes sense back in the day when interactive chess boards did not exist yet, however today it is just a good challenge for people who are trying to learn chess notations.

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You would literally see a single picture in the middle of the book where multiple chess notations are in the side, you have to visualize with the chest notations only in order to understand the material. If you are able to do this then learning chess notations would be a piece of cake, and I would even argue that this is an even harder feature to accomplish on its own.

The best thing about this is it will be hitting two birds with one stone, remember that chess books are made in order to teach players new concepts that can be implemented in their game. When you are trying to learn how to be good at doing chess notations you are also inadvertently learning new things, it is one of the best methods out there.

Practice citing chess notations with your favorite opening

Another thing that you can do to hit two birds with one stone is read a notation from an opening that you are beginning to study, preferably something of a main line that is likely to be played. Try to read the first 5-8 moves in notation just with your own mind, then you can check with a reference if you get it right.

This is a good digestible practice that you can include in your daily routine, while you are studying an opening try visualizing the chess notation on top of your head. While you are memorizing anyway might as well try to be good at reading chess notations, it will also help you in remembering the opening much easier.

Play a chess game that only contain chess notations

Another advice that I can give you is try to import a game to a note that contains chess notations only, then play the moves at the board right until the end of the imported set of notations. At the end of it all try to see if the ending that you have arrived at is identical to what the notation is really getting at, this way you can be sure that you get everything correctly.

Just take a random game that you have played yourself or something that you have taken from the database, the twist about this is you are not doing it online. You are supposed to do this with a real board with no notational guide and see if you can get everything correctly, make this a challenge that is fun in order to motivate yourself.

There are many methods that a player can do in order to be good at chess notations, some of the best ones are reading a chess book as well as analyzing a game of your own. But the thing about improvement is different things work for different people, so try to find one that works on your specific needs.

What is best about this article is multiple methods have been discussed that you can use to experiment on your own, learning chess notations is one of the first steps in becoming a good to chess player. By reading this article you are doing the first steps in becoming one yourself, thank you for reading.

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