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# I wonder why algebraic notation?

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MDOC777 wrote:

With algebriac, you need a legend on the board.  With descriptive, you don't need it.

The king is an emperor, queen is a dame, bishops know cardinals and friars, any knight should be bold and gallant, and rooks are houses and architecture.  Another way is to memorize the location of one of the kingside files and use that as a reference.  As to the ranks when you have Black, you already know them from recording your opponent's move in DN.

xbigboy wrote:

A book in my school library, on the Fischer/Spassky 1972 match, uses descriptive. It really was a pain to read, but I suppose that is just because of my infamiliarity with it. I don't think either "Fischer played an uncharacteristic first move, P-QB4." or "Fischer played an uncharacteristic first move, c4". is easier to understand than "Fischer decided to play the English."

No, you are correct, it is a pain.  I learned using descriptive, and I didn't like then and I don't like it now.

Dargone wrote:

I'm fluent in both; however, algebraic seems far more simplistic to me.

I used to be used to be fluent in algebraic, and I could play using it, but now it is like riding a bicycle using only one foot.

To me, the worst thing about the old books is not the notatation, but the lack of enough diagrams, and the notation being all scrunched together, like they couldn't spare the space. Sometimes the notation would be printed like regular text in horizontal lines, not columns.

Dargone wrote:

I'm fluent in both; however, algebraic seems far more simplistic to me.

We believe the word you meant was "simple" not "simplistic."  >:[

Descriptive notation:

"But soft, what light through yonder file breaks

It is on the back rank, and it is a queen

Arise, fair knight, and kill the envious rook

Who is already pale and sick with grief"

Algebraic notation:

22. Qe8 Nxd8

I grew up on discriptive and although i have learned algebraic because of chess computer games and certain chess books i will always be more comfortable with the discriptive. I don't think players at my level (usually 1500s) need to worry about the latest opening suprises and the older books have more information than i will ever learn, so the vast majority of the chess books i look at are in the discriptive.

I've got an amazing news flash for everyone: AN is cheaper to use in chess books and magazines. That's pretty much the end of the story here (not that it will end the debate here and elsewhere), but in the meantime all those who prefer EN probably won't be rushing out to publish chess books & mags using their beloved, albeit archaic, confusing and suckass EN

One question I have is why does descrpitive still seem to be the norm in a lot of movies/TV shows, unless they're specifically about chess.

Pawn to Queen's Level 1 doesn't seem to make sense, Mr. Spock.

I grew up with descriptive and when the change came--it was difficult--but algebraic makes more sense and also you will find chess books written in algebraic..

I do like some things about descriptive notation, like RxP is very easy to understand.  Talking about rooks on the 7th rank seems easier, too.  Even with some of the nice things with DN, I must admit I prefer the algebraic, even though I sometimes write 2... Nf3.

ClavierCavalier wrote:

One question I have is why does descrpitive still seem to be the norm in a lot of movies/TV shows, unless they're specifically about chess.

ANSWER: Because the scriptwriters don't know what they're writing about. One glaring example: In the movie "Searching For Bobby Fischer" a climactic game of tnmt chess is played without a clock, even though the Director was aware of chess clocks. However, he decided that using a chess clock would make the scene "less dramatic" I guess because in addition to being a know-it-all idiot he never heard of time pressure. Or maybe he thought anyone who would watch his movie would be too stupid to understand what the chess clock was for?

Both are easy.  You can go from knowing neither to "fluent" in both in less than 10 minutes.  Not a big deal.

waffllemaster wrote:

Both are easy.  You can go from knowing neither to "fluent" in both in less than 10 minutes.  Not a big deal.

Yet another good post.

I learned descriptive at a young age in the 1960's. It took less than ten minutes. Used it for years. Learned algebraic when it became necessary. It took a little longer to remember which file the pieces began on. But I got used to it.

The "which is better?" argument is foolish. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The solution: Learn both. Become fluent in both. Knowing two languages is usually considered better than knowing only one. Why argue in favor of partial illiteracy?

http://home.comcast.net/~wporter211/realsite/chess_etc/letter.htm  was a letter to the editor of Chess Life about converting to AN (I may have been the first person to ever use these initials  for this).  Hans Berliner had just won the World Correspondence Championship and was pictured on the cover.

Interesting!

paulgottlieb wrote:

I believe we all tend to think in our mother tongue--the language we learned as children. And for those of us of a certain age, descriptive notation was our mother tongue. So even though I've become quite fluent in algebraic, when I listen to my own internal dialog I often here myself thinking in descriptive

Not me.  I never think naturally in descriptive anymore.

People are resistant to change.  The older they are, the more this is true.

Here's a book published by all those geniuses way back in 1968:

AndyClifton wrote:

Oh no, algebraic is a beautiful experience.  Descriptive is clunky and ungainly.  It is also murder when playing through lines in your head (keeping track of where everything is).

The only useful aspect of descriptive is talking about positions irrespective of whether it's White or Black:  ie, "BxPch" instead of having to say "Bxh7+ or Bxh2+."

Exactly. Let's say 1. P-K4 P-K4. That is what the notation is, and analyzing  descriptive games is total pain. Try it! I'll give you a game later. See if you can create it correctly by turning it into algebraic and entering it in to the chessboard creator. ! Thank you.