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I was wondering if anybody knows when algebraic notation became popular--more than popular; the way to notate chess. A friend of mine--his handle on this site is SweetSixteen--claims that it came about because of some lazy computer programmer. Is this true? Personally, I much prefer the archaic chess notation. E4 just doesn't have the same ring to it as pawn to king four. I recognize that this is probably because I learned notation under the archaic system, but I hate having to consciouly try to figure out where g6 is.
About 20 years ago.
It wasn't lazy programming, it was a logical step towards a simpler system and one that is far more compatible for computer software.
BTW, for me, I know instantly where g6 is, but I would have to stop and look for KN6.
I used to love the descriptive notation too, but you do get used to the algebraic notation pretty well.
Now I just think thus:
P-K4 (I'm old).
Do you know who came up with the algebraic notation. If it's only twenty years old, Kevin is probably right--maybe not necessarily about the lazy part--because the archaic version has been around a long time.
Something must have happened twenty years ago to spurn a change.
Yes, computers were coming of age. With tiny LCD readouts on chess equipment, B1C3 was far more efficient than QN QB3.
I don't know when the algebraic stuff was created, but I do know that computers made it supercede the descriptive notation.
The first recorded use of algebraic notation was in The Noble Game of Chess by Philipp Stamma in 1745:
But, algebraic didn't come into its own until the late 1970's with the advent of computer chess.
Wow, that's great stuff! So, as I understand it, algebraic notation sucked until computers demanded the less appealing notation style.
Thank you batgirl, every Luddite can smile this evening.
Way to go batgirl. You rule.
Batgirl... You must have an amazing personal library!
"algebraic notation sucked until computers demanded the less appealing notation style."
Not exactly. Algegraic notation had evolved from Stamma'a somewhat crude use. (Stamma lost a historic match to Philidor which more or less ended his chess career and probably did nothing to further the use of his notation style. Philidor in his book, l'analyse, used some odd notations himself, as can be seen in this 1813 translation.)
But people and publishers just seemed to prefer descriptive type notations until the last 30-40 years.
Batgirl, the link doesn't work, unfortunately. I wonder why it was 30-40 years ago that descriptive type notation fell out of favor. Probably that damned television!
batgirl, do you know when FIDE began to approve algebraic as an official alternative notation? I had The Complete Chessplayer by Fred Reinfeld in the late 60's, and it had FIDE rules in the back of the book with both algebraic and descriptive as approved forms. (Although the book itself was in descriptive)
It was Reinfeld from whom I learned chess notation.
The link works now.
I don't know anything about FIDE's involvement with notation. I'd imagine algebraic had always been acceptable since it's perfectly reasonable. It seems that it just never gained popular favor until the coming of age of computer progams. Of course there might be other reasons too. I don't know.
Me too. That was one of the first things I learned after the moves themselves, thanks to his book. To me the ideal notation would be a sort of cross between the two. Algebraic does make more sense if only because the squares have the same name for both black and white. But QxB if there is only one way that can happen makes a lot of sense too.
Descriptive notation was a solution in search of a problem. I'm amazed it took so long for algebraic to become the norm; if I recall correctly Larry Evans' and Andy Soltis' columns in Chess Life still ran in descriptive even in the late 90's--in fact, they were the only columns that did so.
Philidor's notation style is quite interesting--1-64 really simplifies things--Kevin may be wrong--wouldn't that be easier for a lazy computer programmer?
"Winning Chess" by Reinfield and Chernev was it for me...unfortunately, long after I learned how the pieces moved.
I learned my chess basics from a book published in 1886 (by one R.F. Green)which refers to algebraic notation as "German" notation. I think algebraic notation has always been the more common system in non-English-speaking countries. The two big advantages of algebraic notation are its concision (you can't get more concise than e4), and the unchanging, non-relative names of the squares. The only disadvantage I can think of is that axb3 may refer to the fall of a pawn or the queen; PxQ leaves no doubt about what happened.
bigpoison- I'm probably not correct here, since I don't remember my computer engineering very well, however since 64 is 2^6 and a-h and 1-8 is only 2^3+2^3, it should be easier to work with algebriac in memory since you're usually only changing 3 bits at a time instead of the full 6 for every move in purely numbered squares.
Thanks for the head's up on R. F. Green's Introduction to Chess in the Chess Player's Handbook !! Here's what he had to say:
The system of notation in general use in this country has been explained In the Introductory Chapter, and fully exemplified in the subsequent analyses of the different openings, but a short sketch of the arbitrary systems which are more or less adopted in standard chess works 04 the continent, may prove of service to the inexperienced amateur.
The squares of the chess-board and the chess-men themselves may be denoted by various methods, but the moves of the men can be indicated only in two ways.
1st. By giving the square from which a Piece is played and that to which it is moved, without naming the Piece itself ; and it is here understood that the Piece to be moved stands on the first-mentioned square, and is to be placed on the second, any adverse Piece on the latter square to be, of course, removed from the board.
2nd. By indicating both the Piece to be moved and the square to which It is played, superadding also the operation of taking an opposing man. The Piece may be designated by its initials, as in the English and the French notations, or by some letter of the alphabet, as is done by Kiese- ritzky and others. In the former the move is frequently indicated by sImply mentioning the operation of taking, as "K. B. takes Q. Kt.," or "F. du R. prend le С.," but this is never the case in any of the arbitrary systems alluded to.
When the first-mentioned plan of stating the move is adopted, viz., by giving the square from which and to which a Piece is moved, the name of the Piece to he moved is sometimes given, and the act of taking is also indicated, out these are quite unnecessary.
So also, under the second method, if the Piece to be played and the square to which it goes are given, the operation of taking need not be expressed, any more than in the first, although it is customary to have it so.
In Alexandre, Jaenisch, the "Handbuch," and in Germany generally, the squares are marked as in Diagram No. 1." (below), [note:Jaenisch was Russian]
Then he goes on to describe Koch's Notation in which each square is indicated by first the file # followed by the rank # (so a1 would be 11 and h1 would be 81) and Kieseritzky's Notation in which each square is indicated by first the rank# followed by the file# (so a1 would be 11 and h1 would be 18). He also mentions the notation such as Philidor used in which each square is numbered 1-64, but offers no recommendation for that system.
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