In Simon Webb's brilliant book, Chess for Tigers, he advises that a player write their move on their scoresheet before playing it. Then, right before you play your move, you check it one more time to ensure you haven't made a blunder. I used this strategy with great effect in my games, and it cut down my blunder rate considerably.

Unfortunately, Fide changed the rules, and now this kind of strategy is illegal: you have to write your move down after you play it. Is there a substitute for this strategy that still uses the scoresheet, but is legal under Fide rules?

3 Answers 3


I don't know of any proven method but here's one idea: you could try to imagine writing the move. Translate your move into algebraic notation, imagine the text on your scoresheet, maybe even trace it with your finger. Hopefully that will be enough of a pause in your train of thought to enable you to see the move from a different perspective, which I think is the rationale behind the "write before you move" approach.


Is there a substitute for this strategy that still uses the scoresheet, but is legal under Fide rules?

According to 12.3a FIDE:

12.3a During play the players are forbidden to make use of any notes, sources of information or advice, or analyse on another chessboard.

Therefore, if any performed action is considered as making use of notes, it is a violation. This is confirmed by

12.4 The scoresheet shall be used only for recording the moves, the times of the clocks, the offers of a draw, and matters relating to a claim and other relevant data.

and the rule that you are probably referring to

8.1 ...

It is forbidden to write the moves in advance, unless the player is claiming a draw according to Article 9.2, or 9.3 or adjourning a game according to the Guidelines of Adjourned Games point 1.a.


While there are many advices that can be given to substitute the scoresheet (visualization, writing mentally, etc), the current FIDE rules limit you severely.

So, can you come up with a substitute strategy? Definitely.

Consider algebraic notation. Ideally, you want to encode:

  • the piece that moves: K,Q,B,N,pawn
  • destination file: a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h
  • destination rank: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8
  • O-O, O-O-O
  • sometimes, origin file/rank in case of ambiguity
  • optionally, capture, check, mate, e.p.

For the purpose of blunder checking, one can certainly sacrifice optional symbols, consider the frequency of the notation with the origin file/rank (ex., N2e4) to be negligible. By using only pen and the scoresheet, you can easily specify the destination:

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With enough practice, positioning the pen and the scoresheet according to the map identical to writing b4 on the scoresheet.

You can encode the moving piece (king, queen, bishop, knight) by, say, buttoning and unbuttoning your suit, using a third object on the table, and many other ways.

This approach is very similar to writing the notation in your mind, rather than on the scoresheet, but it uses the physical objects.

Disclosure: I do not use this approach.


I know there is such a rule but in practice, even if in serious tournaments it's not necessarily enforced. I had a game in World Open at Philadelphia a few years ago and my opponent wrote on his score sheet before making any move. I was debating if I should report and finally I reported to TD and TD warned him. The next time he did that I reported again and nothing happened. So the next time it happened I ignored it and did not report. So if you really want, you can still do it at your own risk. It's unlikely the TD is going to forfeit your game. The worst is probably a warning or something.


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