What studies have compared effectiveness for thinking by chess players using descriptive vs algebraic notation?

  • 4
    I tend to doubt it, and even if there were such a study, it would probably find that algebraic would be the easier of the two to use. Other than the fact that each square is represented by only one name, another reason algebraic took over is that it is more logical. Feb 19 '20 at 16:53
  • 1
    By the way, I took out the tag "studies" because the tag, in this case, does not mean "a published report", but rather, studies, as in chess compositions for solving. Feb 19 '20 at 16:57
  • 1
    OK, I created that. Done. Feb 19 '20 at 17:00
  • 1
    It means thinking PQ4 NKN3, 2 PQ4 PKN3, 3 NQB3 PQ4 to myself' Remember there was a time before algebraic notation, and a longer time before it became common because of FIDE. Feb 19 '20 at 18:52
  • 1
    I remember descriptive notation and the painful transition to algebraic. I am surprised by this idea of thinking in notation at all, I have never done that. Maybe that is what has held me back all these years. Feb 19 '20 at 21:43

If there are studies, they'd show descriptive to be the lesser of the two because in descriptive, all the squares have two names; in algebraic, just one. So if you're having to keep a game in your head, it's easier to do so with 64 identifiers to remember than 128, right?

If you practice playing blindfolded, you'll find that your only use for notation is transmitting the moves back and forth.


descriptive is far easier for blindfold chess or blind players

the symmetry makes it easier to 'see' the board where with algebraic it is all memory and computation to really know what is where

  • 2
    For you, descriptive may be far easier. For others, who have grown up with algebraic, it's the other way round: Descriptive is all computation to really know what is where. What matters most, difficulty-wise, is routine.
    – Annatar
    Sep 8 '20 at 6:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.