# Am I the only chessplayer in the world who still loves descriptive notation?

• 2 years ago · Quote · #1

I noticed the greatest chess player in world history, Bobby Fischer, used descriptive notation. I still prefer it because descriptive notation is more like the English language than algebraic notation.

From wikipedia: "Algebraic notation is more concise and requires less effort to avoid ambiguity".

For me that's an advantage for descriptive notation because it forces me to consider using a different piece to make a move, for example to use the queen knight instead of the king knight to capture something.

When the computer does all the work there's no problem, but when I have to write down the moves it's easier for me to write 1. N-KB3 N-KB3 instead of 1. Nf3 Nf6. It's easier for me to remember the knight is going to the king bishop file instead of the f file. And it confuses me to have to remember that Black's 3rd rank is rank 6 in algebraic notation.

I also noticed that when reading a chess book it's easier to study a game without using a chess board when the notation is descriptive.

Am I the only one who is still prefers descriptive notation?

By identifying each square with reference to the player on move, descriptive notation better reflects the symmetry of the game's starting position ("both players opened with P-K4 and planned to play B-KN2 as soon as possible"), and because the pieces captured are named, it is easy to skim over a game record and see which ones have been taken at any particular point.

The maxim that "a pawn on the seventh is worth two on the fifth" makes sense from both Black's perspective as well as White's perspective.

English descriptive notation is also particular to chess, not to any other game.

• 2 years ago · Quote · #2
bobyyyy wrote:
I also noticed that when reading a chess book it's easier to study a game without using a chess board when the notation is descriptive.

Studying a game without using a chess board ?

This is completely impossible for me - no matter what notation is used.

Only very talented people are able to play blindfolded on a reasonable level.

• 2 years ago · Quote · #3
• 2 years ago · Quote · #4

grasvater, thanks for that survey. I noticed only 8% voted for "I like it better than algebraic!".

My favorite comment there about descriptive notation: "It's secret code used by old people."

Another comment from the survey I liked:

To clarify, an obvious drawback with algebraic is that when you are black, all the letters go from right to left and the numbers go down as you advance up the board.

But a more fundamental problem is that it causes abstract thinking:  Squares just appear to be locations.  And playing an opening for many young players must be akin to painting by numbers:  There is no feeling or understanding of the opeining, just memorization of sequences of letters and numbers.

Contrast this with a player who learned descriptive notation at the same time that he/she learned to play:  This player will see squares as belonging to him/her.  For instance P-Q4 will indicate moving the pawn to white's Q4, not black's.  Occupying and controlling central squares is fundamental to gaining an advantage in the opening.

• 2 years ago · Quote · #5

To me it's all the same.

• 2 years ago · Quote · #6

If you like descriptive, you'll love pictorial.

• 2 years ago · Quote · #7

Anyone that relies on Wikipedia for anything is also a complete fool!  I do disagree about the chess books of the last twenty years -- complete bumpkum.

• 2 years ago · Quote · #8

I'm good at chess, and I have the same prob.

• 2 years ago · Quote · #9
artfizz wrote:

If you like descriptive, you'll love pictorial.

Ah, yes, clip-clop. (Link's broken btw).

• 2 years ago · Quote · #10
LongyZwillman wrote:

Anyone that relies on Wikipedia for anything is also a complete fool!  I do disagree about the chess books of the last twenty years -- complete bumpkum.

Then I must be a complete fool because I rely on wikipedia for everything.

• 2 years ago · Quote · #11

R-QN3 (ch) !  (Take that all the useless algebraic swine !!:)

• 2 years ago · Quote · #12

Yes but Wikipedia is subject to relentless review by idiots and armchair know-it-alls with no credentials other than living in their parent's basements at age 30.

Not to mention the deliberate falsehoods and crackpot theories edited in Wikipedia by kids as a joke.  One time I read the Wikipedia article of Meyer Lansky (who I knew back in the old days) and it was completely wrong!

Total bumpkum, I say!

• 2 years ago · Quote · #13

I think it is a total fool who cannot tell when a wikipedia article is trustworthy or not, and must avoid any burden on the mind by ignoring it all.

• 2 years ago · Quote · #14
bobyyyy wrote:
LongyZwillman wrote:

Anyone that relies on Wikipedia for anything is also a complete fool!  I do disagree about the chess books of the last twenty years -- complete bumpkum.

Then I must be a complete fool because I rely on wikipedia for everything.

Well, why don't you rely on Wikipedia to teach you algebraic notation and stop grousing about it.  Teach yourself FEN while you are at it.

• 2 years ago · Quote · #15

I am bilinguistic in that either descriptive or algebraic is fine by me.

That said, I am one of these "old" chess players who read dozens of chess books in descriptive...because that was the standard "back in the day".

I found it somewhat annoying when the world shifted to algebraic. And, for awhile, I resisted the trend. But, I found that "resistance is futile"...so I adjusted to the mass mentality.

I still have a fondness for the old style descriptive. But, don't worry about me...thank you...I'm doing just fine.

• 2 years ago · Quote · #16

I understand algebraic. I just prefer descriptive. I also prefer chess books that use descriptive notation. Unfortunately new versions of some old books were ruined when they were rewritten in algebraic notation.

• 2 years ago · Quote · #17

LongyZwillman, I should learn FEN, also known as Forsyth-Edwards Notation? Why would that not be a complete waste of time, or were you joking?

• 2 years ago · Quote · #18
netzach wrote:

R-QN3 (ch) !  (Take that all the useless algebraic swine !!:)

That loses to Nb5# EDIT: I changed b6 to b5

• 2 years ago · Quote · #19

I agree with you, e4nf3.  I'm an old guy too and grew up with descriptive in the Fischer days and still have a lot of books from then.  However, if the global standard changes, you have to adapt to the new standard and recognize its advantages.  Yes, I miss the ubiquitous Q-R6+ (Qh6+), but I do use algebraic all the time now and appreciate it.

Perhaps someday my country, The United States, will convert to the metric system that all other countries use and is much easier to understand.  We actually passed a law here in 1975 to do that, but the effort was never funded and therefore died.  Well, maybe someday...

• 2 years ago · Quote · #20

I have a nostalgic fondness for descriptive notation and it does seem more human than algebraic.  However, algebraic is more efficient.  My endgame books are all in descriptive notation  and I sometimes find it ambigous when the books refer to a square.  Also algebraic makes it much cheaper (and more accurate) to translate books not written in English.