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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?

  • 11
    Kids these days... – Pete Becker Apr 2 '16 at 22:42
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    @PeteBecker Can't blame him, you might have seen it in your youth, but it hasn't been used for like 20 years. – SmallChess Apr 3 '16 at 11:09
  • I gave away all my chess books. Most were pretty old, maybe 1 in 50 were in algebraic? The classics have been republished in algebraic so that's good. – Tony Ennis Apr 3 '16 at 14:37
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    Descriptive is much harder to read though...I spend 5 seconds trying to figure out each move – suomynonA Apr 3 '16 at 15:53
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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It is an obsolete notation, having been replaced by algebraic or figurine algebraic notation.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 wanted to move your Queen from her initial square to the opposite edge of the board. Your move, as white, would be Q-Q8 (Queen moves to the Queen's eighth square). Now suppose you wanted to make the exact same move, but as black. This move would also be Q-Q8. Both moves are notated with respect to the side making the move.

  • What if there are doubled pawns? Would they have the name of the original places they were in? Or would they have to have different names? – suomynonA Apr 2 '16 at 3:10
  • @Anonymous: Pawns are described by the file they are currently on, but you can specify the exact square if necessary. E.g., P(K5)xP means that the pawn on K5 captures a pawn. And PxP(Q6) means that a pawn captures a pawn on Q6. – Stephen Apr 2 '16 at 11:01

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