Chess Wednesdays – Algebraic Notation Pt 1

There is a new group in town taking over Pulpit Rock Brewing Company on Wednesdays. That’s right! Chess players and enthusiasts around the Decorah area are coming together on Wednesday, 9/29 at 6:30pm to learn, play, and even teach some chess to your soon-to-be chess peers! All are welcome.

Algebraic Notation

One thing we should consider as we mature in our chess abilities is to read about chess. Finding a good book full of beginner tactics and strategies for the beginning, middle, and endgame, and then wor

king through it will have a significant impact on your chess playing. However, in order to read through some of these books, you’ll need to be able to read algebraic notation for chess.

Let’s start with the first move of the game. A popular first move for both players is for white to move their king pawn forward two squares and for black to copy the same move. When representing this in algebraic notation, we simply use the name of the square. From the perspective of white, the columns (referred to as files in chess) are each lettered a-h from left to right, and the rows (referred to as ranks) are numbered 1-8 from white’s own back row to black’s back row.

Using this, e4 would be the square that the white’s king pawn would be going to. Likewise, black answers by pushing their pawn to the e5 square. If we were logging the moves we would write:

1. e4 e5

A popular second move is for white to attack black’s pawn on the e5 square with the knight they have on their king side. The popular response for black is to defend their e5 pawn with their knight on the queen side. When using algebraic notation with letters and not the symbols of the pieces, we use K for the king, Q for the queen, B for the bishop, N for the knight (since K is already taken), and R for the rook. When the second move is played out, it is represented by

2. Nf3 Nc6

If white were to respond foolishly and take the pawn on the e5 square with their knight, we would write 3. Nxe5, where the x indicates a piece is captured being captured on the square following the x. Black’s obvious repsonse to this blunder would be to take the knight now lying on the e5 square. This has the same notation and the 3rd set of moves is then represented by

3. Nxe5 Nxe5

There is much more to learn, but that is enough for this week! Hope to see you out for a game or two on Wednesday! Please ask questions if you have any!

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