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In the good old days when I saw a chess diagram I didn't have to guess which way the pawns were going; there was a convention that the white pawns moved up the board. When and why did upside down diagrams become fashionable? Does it have something to do with playing chess on the internet, or did this foolishness come before the internet?

And why don't they ever rotate the diagram 90 degrees, to give us the kibitzer's view of the board?

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    I've never seen this in "diagrams" (where someone is just documenting a game), but in chess problems, or learning scenarios where you're meant to be considering the position from black's point of view, I see diagrams routinely flipped so the black back-row is on the bottom, and the h8 square is in the lower left corner. I think this is because if you're meant to be considering the position from black's point of view, you should see it (as much as possible) as the black player would see it, so you're not later confused (in real play) by only looking at positions from white's point of view.
    – patbarron
    Mar 17 at 5:10
  • I'm not sure when I first started seeing this, and the above is only a guess as to why, so I'm not writing it as an actual answer.
    – patbarron
    Mar 17 at 5:11
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    In view of the truism that the kibitzers see more than the players, why aren't the diagrams ever rotated 90 degrees, with White moving from left to right and Black from right to left?
    – bof
    Mar 17 at 6:45
  • I can at least assure you this is pre-Internet, and I once read a very true statement in a chess learning book: As a player, in half of your games you will have this view. Mar 17 at 7:45
  • Nice idea of having a kibitzer view. It would be natural on something like chessgames.com which emphasizes the kibitzer's perspective. From a programming point of view, it would be routine to replace an invert board feature by a feature that rotates 90 degrees. Use it twice and it inverts the board. Use it once and you have a kibitzer view. Three times gets you the opposite-side kibitzer view. Mar 18 at 10:54
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Flipped boards are useful when the observer is supposed to control or think as if he were controlling the black pieces. That makes sense because in on-the-board games you play the perspective of white if you're white, but play the perspective of black if you're black, so in the latter case you see a flipped board. It seems pretty reasonable to me.

And why don't they ever rotate the diagram 90 degrees to give us the kibitzer's (spectator's) view of the board?

The most likely reason is that players are simply not as comfortable with that view as with ordinary 0, 180° degrees view (people play more than they watch games).

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  • The OP mentions "the truism that kibitzers see more than the players", which leads to the comment about rotating the board 90 degrees - that's the typical perspective of a spectator, viewing the game from the side - you want to be standing in a position where you have a clear view of the entire board, plus the clock (and yeah, normally a spectator isn't "sitting" in that position, they're standing...). I've observed countless games from that perspective during tournaments.
    – patbarron
    Mar 18 at 0:30
  • @patbarron True, I overlooked that last bit of the sentence. Edited.
    – Quasímodo
    Mar 18 at 12:46

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