A guide to algebraic chess notation - how the squares are named, what the various symbols all mean, and how to mark up a game for sharing with other people.
Algebraic Notation: Squares
Board is always oriented with a white square at the bottom right.
Squares are named from white's perspective
Vertical columns are files, named a-h (always lower case) from left to right
Horizontal rows are ranks, named 1-8 from near to far
White king begins on square e1
Algebraic Notation: Pieces
Pieces are always uppercase.
* In chess problems, "S" is used to represent the Knight.
Algebraic Notation: Moves
The notation for a move indicates which piece is moved, and to where:
Queen moves to a3
King moves to h6
Pawn moves to b4
Where two identical pieces could move to the same square, the piece name is followed by its original file (or rank where the file is the same), like so:
Rook on b file moves to a3
Knight on rank 4 moves to f2
Pawn on c file takes d5
Algebraic Notation: Symbols
Piece taken en passant
Pawn promotion *
* e8=Q means e-file pawn promoted to Queen. The equals is often omitted.
Algebraic Notation: Example
1. e4 c5
White pawn to e4; Black pawn to c5
2. Nf3 d6
White knight to f3
3. Bb5+ Bd7
White bishop to b5, Black in check
4. Bxd7+ Qxd7
White bishop takes black bishop on d7, black in check; Queens takes d7 bishop
5. c4 Nc6
6. Nc3 Nf6
7. 0-0 g6
White castles king-side
8. d4 cxd4
White d4 pawn taken by c-file black pawn
9. Nxd4 Bg7
10. Nde2 Qe6
White knight on d-file to e2
Algebraic Notation: Annotations
Extremely strong move, often game-winning
Speculative move, possibly strong but more analysis needed
Dubious move, possibly weak but more analysis needed
Blunder, equivalent to hanging a piece
White is winning
White has a significant edge
White has a small edge
Black has a small edge
Black has a significant edge
Black is winning
Only move available
Figurine Notation is used where notation needs to be independent of language, and uses symbols instead of letters to represent pieces.
Long Notation explicitly defines the start square for the moving piece, as well as the target square.
Numeric Notation uses numbers instead of letters for pieces and for spaces.