[FEN "rnbq1rk1/ppp2ppp/4pn2/3p4/1bPP4/2NBP3/PP3PPP/R1BQK1NR w KQ - 0 6"]

If white move his king knight to e2 in the next move, should this move be recorded as Nge2 or Ne2 in the algebraic notation?

After all, the other knight cannot legally move to e2 in this move.

  • 5
    Dear Zuriel, I've noticed you've rarely ever accepted an answer in any of your previous question posts! Accepting answers that have resolved your question(s) gives closure to a post and the discussions within, and it potentially entices more people to consider answering your future questions. Thanks for considering it.
    – user929304
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 13:49
  • @user929304 Thanks! One user had criticised me for accepting answers too early and it discourages other user from giving other answers to my question. Since then I usually wait for a few years (perhaps it is too long and I should accept an answer within a few days?) before accepting an answer.
    – Zuriel
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 13:55
  • Do you care about FIDE rules or others? Maybe choose some tags like that. Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 14:41
  • I personally think itub and phonon are giving the more "advisable" solution, meaning the safe way of going about it, which seems quite reasonable.
    – user929304
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 18:31

5 Answers 5


It doesn't matter. The purpose of algebraic notation is to produce an unambiguous record of the game, not a canonical representation that you could compare character by character.

This is not spelled out on the official rules, but I believe it is the inescapable conclusion considering that some parts of the notation are explicitly optional (here I'm talking about the FIDE Laws of Chess); for example:

[...] each player is free to use the name which is commonly used in his country [...]

A longer form containing the square of departure is acceptable.

[...] an x may be inserted [...]

[...] ‘e.p.’ may be appended.

[...] The last four [capture, check, checkmate, and en passant] are optional.

That said, the rules are clear that disambiguation is only needed when two identical pieces can move to the same square, so the "correct" notation would be Ne2.


It should be Ne2 because, as you correctly say, only that knight may move to e2.

By contrast, if, say, each of two knights could move to e2, but one would discover check and the other would not give check, then the move must be disambiguated in both cases. The presence or absence of a + does not disambiguate. Cf, from the PGN reference: Check and checkmate indication characters

If the move is a checking move, the plus sign "+" is appended as a suffix to the basic SAN move notation; if the move is a checkmating move, the octothorpe sign "#" is appended instead.

Neither the appearance nor the absence of either a check or checkmating indicator is used for disambiguation purposes. This means that if two (or more) pieces of the same type can move to the same square the differences in checking status of the moves does not allieviate the need for the standard rank and file disabiguation described above. (Note that a difference in checking status for the above may occur only in the case of a discovered check.)

Cf this question.

  • Thanks! In your example, why you say the presence or absence of a + does not disambiguate? If one knight moves to e2 is a check and another is not, to me the notation + will be sufficient to tell which knight is moving.
    – Zuriel
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 13:35
  • @Zuriel I have updated my answer.
    – Rosie F
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 13:42

Both are legal and acceptable.

Appendix C of the FIDE Laws of Chess describes the rules for writing the moves.

The relevant article if the c3 knight had not been pinned is C10 -

C.10 If two identical pieces can move to the same square, the piece that is moved is indicated as follows:

C.10.1 If both pieces are on the same rank by:

C.10.1.1 the abbreviation of the name of the piece,

C.10.1.2 the file of departure, and

C.10.1.3 the square of arrival.

but note that longer forms are acceptable. As article C8 says -

A longer form containing the square of departure is acceptable. Examples: Bb2e5, Ng1f3, Ra1d1, e7e5, d2d4, a6a5.

  • 1
    C10 simply does not apply as only the knight on g1 can move to e2. As you note, it would have been relevant had the c3 knight not been pinned, but it is. Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 14:40

Only Ne2 is correct. There is a FIDE rule that explains what to do "if two identical pieces can move to the same square" (C10), that would lead to the Nge2 notation. But that rule simply doesn't apply here as the c3 knight cannot move to e2.

That said, there is no problem with writing Nge2, as it is still clear what move is meant. I think most software that reads PGN will also accept Nge2 (no guarantees!).

  • This is the most technically correct answer so far. The downvotes seem to come from those who did not read what the FIDE rules actually say.
    – Remellion
    Commented Jan 27, 2019 at 9:03

The correct notation stays Nge2 irrespective of the fact that Nce2 would be an illegal move in this position.

In such cases, always remember that the notation should be as complete and self-contained as possible, such that everything that happens in the game remains reproducible, even errors such as illegal moves. These things become more relevant when conflicts arise and an arbiter has to resolve it based on the record of the game. So by writing Nge2 you'll have left no room for uncertainty.

Chess notation serves merely as a way of recording the state and evolution of a game in a fully reproducible manner, it is not an implementation of the rules of the game per se.

  • Phonon, what should the arbiter do in the case that the player writes Ne2?
    – Brian Towers
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 14:19
  • 2
    I disagree, only Ne2 is actually technically correct. Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 14:39
  • 1
    @RemcoGerlich Sure Ne2 also remains technically correct in this case, I'm merely pointing out the importance of being on the safe side in such circumstances, leaving no room for doubt or false claims by opponent.
    – Ellie
    Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 11:23

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