Descriptive notation seems to be limited to certain languages like English, and I found a Wikipedia article that mentions Spanish and French.

I have never seen a Russian book that uses Descriptive, and in fact, I can go back to the 1800's in Russian books, and they all use Algebraic.

In particular, I would like to see a list of languages that used Descriptive before finally adopting Algebraic, but I would also be interested in a list that have always used Algebraic.


Originally there was ONLY descriptive and it was used in ALMOST ALL languages, if not actually in ALL of them.

Each language used the letter from their words for the pieces to use to describe moves.

EG Spanish would say AxT for Bishop takes Rook French and other languages used their words to identify the letter for the pieces.

I never saw Russian magazines using algebraic before it became the standard but they may have been part of the movement to transition away from descriptive. Can't speak to Russian books as I never had any of those. And I am positive that if you go back far enough that descriptive was the only method used.

And I never saw algebraic used anywhere until long after the 50s. Not sure when it became popular but it did take a while to displace descriptive and really needed FIDE to make it happen.

Michael West noted elsewhere a German book for Carlsbad 1923 and said he had no problem playing through the games.

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    Correct, I have a reprint in german of the “karlsbad 1923” tournament book in descriptive notation. Damengambit: 1. d2-d4 Sg8-f6 2. Sg1-f3 e7-e6 3. c2-c4 d7-d5 – Michael West Feb 20 '20 at 0:56
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    @MichaelWest How is that not algebraic? – PhishMaster Feb 20 '20 at 1:14
  • looks like a hybrid not the pure algebraic seen now – edwina oliver Feb 20 '20 at 2:43
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    @edwinaoliver It is not a hybrid anything. It IS algebraic. It is just a long form, which shows the full to and from squares. That was how it was originally used, but has just been logically shortened over the years. – PhishMaster Feb 20 '20 at 3:18
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    I was thinking of it as a hybrid as well. But I see now that "long-form" algebraic also makes sense. – Michael West Feb 20 '20 at 14:25

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