Chess Merit Badge Tips: Notation
The chess merit badge requirement 4.a. indicates that scouts should “demonstrate scorekeeping using the algebraic system of chess notation.”
Chess notation is like the game film taken in other sports.
The notation allows players and coaches to review the game, analyze alternatives, and plan improvements for the next game. The following suggestions may help in this learning process.
Use a demonstration board to teach scouts the names of the squares. You could say something like “each square has a first and last name just like you do. The first name is a letter, the last name is a number.”
Then ask scouts to come up to the board and place a chess piece on squares that you or other scouts call out.
In the diagram above, can you name the squares that the pieces are on? Answers: white king – g1; white pawns – a2, b3, d5, g6; white knight – a8; black king – d8; black pawns – a3, b7, f3, g7
Whenever solving chess problems, ask scouts to name the square to which a piece is moving.
In the diagram above, can you name all the squares where pieces can capture?
For White: pawn captures on a4, f5; rook captures bishop on d8; for Black: pawn captures on b3, g4; king captures pawn on c6; knight captures pawn on e5
Have scoresheets available for the scouts. Call out the first five moves of a chess game you have selected and ask them to write those moves on their sheet and to make the moves on their chessboards.
Then write the correct notation on a board (or have a scout to write the moves) and make the moves on the demonstration board.
See how many scouts got it right.
You should reach the diagram above if you made the following moves:
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. 0-0 0-0
- Ask two scouts to volunteer to play a game in front of the group on the demonstration board. The other scouts will record the notation (writing the moves down for both players).
- After the game is over (or the leader calls time), have the scouts recreate the game on their individual chessboards and discuss concepts they observed in the game that are part of the merit badge requirements.
- Replaying the game from the scoresheet provides the opportunity for self-reflection as well as guidance from more experienced players. If your scouts play in a national scholastic tournament sponsored by US Chess, they will receive a booklet that contains score sheets for use during the event.
- You can go online to buy score sheets or score books to record multiple games or you can create your own in a spreadsheet.