I recently bought a chess book that had unusual chess notation, such as B x KP; P X B, Q - R5

Does anyone know what type of notation this is and how to read it?


1 Answer 1


That's descriptive notation. Click that to go to the wiki page.

It is an obsolete notation, having been replaced by algebraic or figurine algebraic notation.

B x KP means, Bishop (B) takes (x) Kings (K) Pawn (P).

Q-R5 - Queen (Q) Moves To (-) Rook's (R) Fifth square (5)

Then there are ways to show castling, etc.

EDIT - doubled pawns. Descriptive Notation doesn't care how pieces got on the squares where they sit. Just name the piece and where it is going. If you were white and had a pawn on e4 and another on e6 (or K4 and K6, in descriptive) and you moved the pawn on e6, your move would be P-K7.

One thing about descriptive, is that the squares are numbered with respect to the side that is moving. Say you as White wanted to move your Queen from her initial square to Black's queen's home square (Qd8 in algebraic). Your move, as white, would be Q-Q8 (Queen moves to the Queen's eighth square). Now suppose you as black wanted to move your queen to white's queen's home square (Qd1 in algebraic). This move would also be Q-Q8. Both moves are notated with respect to the side making the move.

  • Surplus Protip: Whereas this notation is completely obsolete nowadays, it doesn't hurt to know it since many old chessbooks are written in it. (Same, BTW, goes for knowing foreign language figure letters.) Jul 21, 2021 at 19:03
  • 1
    I wonder why "algebraic notation" is still called "algebraic" and not just "chess notation", seeing as it's the only chess notation most young people have ever heard of. For that matter I wonder why it was ever called "algebraic notation". I don't see anything "algebraic" about it.
    – bof
    Jul 22, 2021 at 1:04

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