In Logical Chess: Move By Move by Irving Chernev (1957), in Game 3, it reads

Emanuel Lasker, World Champion for 27 years, says of this move, “In my practice I have usually found it strongest to post the knights at B3, where they have a magnificent sway.” Here ‘B3’ refers to the squares c3 and f3 for White, or c6 and f6 for Black.

What type of notation is this "B3" Emanuel Lasker mentioned?

  • As far as that quote goes, knights are indeed very well placed on these "B3 squares" - particularly on f3/f6 where they also defend the kingside. Such a simple thing that is often not fully appreciated by many players. Commented Jun 21, 2022 at 5:38

1 Answer 1


This is descriptive notation, a composition where the letter B stands for bishop and the number 3 for the third rank from either players view. Thus, as mentioned in your box, B3 may refer to the squares c3, f3, c6 and f6.

More conclusive for the specific squares is the inclusion of Q or K for queen(side) and king(side), so the square c3 is QB3 (read: queen's bishop three) from white's or QB6 (queen's bishop six) from black's view. An overview is given by the picture below.

A white's knight move to c3 (Nc3) in descriptive notation is N-QB3 (read: knight to queen's bishops three / third).

Descriptive notation has generally been given up upon, because confusion can arise, as each square has two names. This problem doesn't exist in algebraic notation.

enter image description here

  • 1
    Another drawback of descriptive notation is that the writer will omit the K or Q from the destination file if the result is still unambiguous in the context, e.g. N-B3 rather than N-KB3 or N-QB3. This means the reader must resolve the ambiguity from the context. But in the passage quoted above, Lasker refers collectively to all four knights, and the four-way ambiguity of "B3" suits this context fine.
    – Rosie F
    Commented Jun 20, 2022 at 4:42
  • 2
    @RosieF to me that seemed like a feature. There's a "standard" way of more succinctly saying "the c2/f2 squares". However, this requires your recipient to know about this notation. Commented Jun 20, 2022 at 7:22
  • 1
    @BernardoSulzbach It's an advantage in this context, but for notating a full game or sequence, as was once standard practice, it's an additional piece of interpretation needed by the reader.
    – IMSoP
    Commented Jun 20, 2022 at 11:23
  • @RosieF Not only that, but if one makes an error writing down the move it can make it difficult to impossible to successfully reconstruct the entire game.
    – Michael
    Commented Jun 20, 2022 at 14:48

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