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Some strong players are able to read entire chess games from a book, as they are very familiar with the notation of the chessboard and theory.

For amateur online players, this can be a difficult task and one of the factors that can stop improvement in understanding deeper positional ideas which are explained in this chess notation heavy chess books.

Does practicing coordinates help improve reading? The top scores of titled players are 85 squares in 30 seconds, whereas I average 45 squares in 30 seconds.

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  • though important to note that practicing coordinates and getting high scores doesn't mean you'll improve reading notation. This is because most of the improvement after serious practicing will come from mouse skills and other things as appose to an improvement in reading chess notation. Nov 18 '20 at 11:26
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I did the test and got 50 squares in 30 seconds. Part of the reason was that it takes some time to move the mouse, but it seems you're quite close to me in speed. I'm also a titled player that can read games from books, so I don't think this is where your problem is.

I'd suggest practicing blindfold chess. Just try playing it a bunch of times with someone, and over time you should get better at it. This helps with reading games from just the notation, since it's the same type of skill being applied.

You mentioned strong players are familiar with theory. This is true, and it includes knowledge like typical opening moves and pawn structures. If the game you are going through (without a board) reaches a position with a structure you're familiar with, or features sequences of moves you've seen many times before, then it's easier to keep track of. If you asked a strong player to read through a game where the 32 pieces start in completely random squares on the board, they would have a harder time since nothing will be familiar.

So to improve your knowledge of theory, the answer here is to just study books on openings, middlegames, etc. Obviously the main purpose of this would be to improve your chess as a whole, and the increased abilities to read games will come as a byproduct.

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  • " If you asked a strong player to read through a game where the 32 pieces start in completely random squares on the board, they would have a harder time since nothing will be familiar." Reminds me of a study where they had beginners and masters try to memorize both actual positions and completely random positions- the masters did better on the actual ones but not better on the random ones (going to go hunt for the study now)
    – pulsar512b
    Nov 19 '20 at 0:01
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    quora.com/… Lello Mascetti's answer discusses the experiment
    – pulsar512b
    Nov 19 '20 at 0:05
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    @pulsar512b Yeah, I had that example in mind when I wrote my answer. I heard of it back when I took a cognitive science course. It just goes to show how much pattern recognition plays a role. Nov 19 '20 at 3:39

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