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Chess Notation
(Descriptive and Algebraic)

There are two popular methods of describing the moves of chess pieces on the chessboard: descriptive and algebraic. The older descriptive method assigns each square on the board two names -- a white name and a black name -- depending on whose turn it is. When it's White's turn to move, the square is called by the white name. Conversely, on Black's turn, the square changes to the black name.

The World Chess Federation uses the algebraic system of notation. In this system the board is divided into a simple grid of eight ranks (horizontally) and eight files (vertically). Each rank is given a number 1 through 8, and each file is given a letter A through H. Viewed from White's side of the board the position a1 will always be the square to the far left and closest to White. The square h8 will always be closest to Black and to the far left. At the beginning of a game, White's pieces will be placed on ranks 1 and 2 while Black's will be placed on ranks 7 and 8.

 a8   b8   c8   d8   e8   f8   g8   h8 
 a7   b7   c7   d7   e7   f7   g7   h7 
 a6   b6   c6   d6   e6   f6   g6   h6 
 a5   b5   c5   d5   e5   f5   g5   h5 
 a4   b4   c4   d4   e4   f4   g4   h4 
 a3   b3   c3   d3   e3   f3   g3   h3 
 a2   b2   c2   d2   e2   f2   g2   h2 
 a1   b1   c1   d1   e1   f1   g1   h1 

Describing the moves of the pieces is fairly simple. First, name the piece and the square it's on, then name the square where it moved. Try to follow this example on your chessboard.

1. g2 - g4
e7 - e5

In this example, the number "1" indicates that it's the first move of the game. White has moved a pawn (pawns are usually unnamed) from the g2 square to the g4 square. Black responded by moving a pawn from the e7 square to the e5 square. Get the idea?

2. f2 - f3
Qd8 - h4 +

In this second move, White made a terribly unstrategic move and gave the game to Black! White moved a pawn from f2 to f3, exposing the king. Black moved the queen from d8 to h4, and bingo! (Or more appropriately, checkmate!) White can do nothing to protect the king. By the way, this particular game is known as Fool's Mate (wonder why?), the fastest way to lose at chess!

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