How to read a chessboard
Chess rules

How to Read a Chessboard

How to Read a Chessboard

When we talk about how to read a chessboard, we mean being able to reproduce a move or sequence of moves through a chess notation. Taking chess notation occurs when a player writes down his or her moves using the coordinates alongside the chessboard.

If you have started to delve into the fascinating world of chess, you should know that chess notation plays a very important role. In this article, I will tell you why it is important and how can you read and write chess moves.

Why Is It Important to Write Down My Chess Moves?

Chess rules

1. To Replicate Your Games

Chess notation allows you to record your games to play back later. This is very useful when you want to share your game with your family or friends.

2. To Study Chess Games

After recording your chess game, you can calmly play the game again, which will allow you to identify the mistakes you have made and also the mistakes of your opponent. This is a critical aspect of improving your game.

3. It Is a Requirement to Play Classical Chess Tournaments

How to read the Chessboard

In competitive chess tournaments, it is necessary to record your moves and those of your opponent in a scoresheet. It’s a chess rule. This is with the objective of knowing the number of moves that have been made in the game and as evidence before any claim that may be generated by one of the players.

Algebraic Chess Notation

There are two notation systems: algebraic and descriptive. The algebraic system is by far the most used.

In the algebraic notation system, each file (the vertical line of 8 squares) is represented by a letter, from a to h. Starting with the one to the left of the white ones ( “a-file”), each rank (horizontal line of 8 squares) is represented by a number from 1 to 8.

Starting with the rank closest to White (1st rank), thus, each square has a name, made up of a letter and a number, corresponding to the file and rank to which it belongs.

Typical scoresheet used in tournaments.

A move is written by putting first the initial that represents the piece, and then the coordinate of the square where the piece is moving.

For example, the move Nf3 means that the knight is played to the f3-square. A pawn move is represented only by the square where it moves. For example, e4 means that the pawn plays to the e4-square.

But if you still have doubts, here is a general presentation on the chessboard.

How to Write a Chess Move?

How to find a chess coach

When a piece captures another, the square where the capture takes place is simply mentioned, and optionally (with great acceptance), it is preceded by an x (capture sign).

For example, Nxd4 means that a knight has captured an enemy pawn or piece that was on d4 (it is not necessary to specify which piece it is).

For castling, the special signs 0-0 are used in the case of short castling (with the rook on the kingside) and 0-0-0 for long castling (with the rook on the queenside).

In addition, sometimes, one of these signs is usually added after the move: “+” to signal the check,”#” to signal the checkmate,”!” to indicate that this is a good move, “?” to indicate that it is a bad move, etc.


1. e4 c6
2. d4 d5
3. Nc3 dxe4
4. Nxe4 Nf6
5. Qd3 e5
6. dxe5 Qa5+ (the “+” sign indicates check)
7. Bd2 Qxe5
8. 0-0-0 Nxe4?? (blunder)
9. Qd8+! Kxd8 (the queen sacrifice allows White to mate in 3 moves)
10. Bg5+ Ke8
11. Rd8#



Sicilian Defense

Chess notation plays a very important role, mainly because it allows us to preserve the history of chess.

At a competitive level, players consult databases that usually have hundreds, thousands, and sometimes millions of games in order to learn from Grandmasters and World Champions.

Learning chess notation will allow you to play at a competitive level in ranked chess tournaments.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want GM Igor Smirnov to help you get better at chess, watch this Masterclass.

Free Training

Swipe Up to Get Better at Chess!
How Do GMs Find the Best Moves? Improve FASTER at Chess
Watch Now