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The good old (descriptive) days

The good old (descriptive) days

May 25, 2008, 1:14 PM 30

Once upon a time (especially in the US and UK) chess games were recorded using the beautiful descriptive notation.  I'm sure most players at Chess.com are well aware of this, but there may be some kids to whom this comes as a shock. 

This old method is less efficient and can more easily become ambiguous unless the author is careful, but it is nonetheless more poetic and compelling than the soulless algebraic notation that the young'uns insist on using because they know nothing else. Wink

When chess moves are portrayed in popular culture, you invariably hear moves announced as "Pawn to King's Four" or "Knight to Queen's Bishop Three", using the evocative descriptive notation.  For dramatic effect such language beats, "e2 to e4" and "Knight b1 to c3" hands down.

I'm not suggesting that we go back to descriptive notation - algebraic is neater, quicker and fits into the modern computer age better.  However, I would like to appeal to all those who ignore or disrespect the old notation - please make an effort to learn to read it.  It may be different from what you're used to, but it's not difficult to learn and many great old books in the descriptive format can be picked up cheaply.

Having been brought up with descriptive notation, I consider it my native chess 'tongue'.  I find that I can picture the moves of a game more easily if I read them in descriptive notation.  Hang on a minute, that's it - I've finally worked out my ultimate excuse for why I lose at chess - I'm playing in a 'second' language. Wink

Long live descriptive notation! Laughing

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