Do FIDE rules allow a player to make notes on the scoresheet like

Here, I wanted to play c4, but thought it would be better to play d4 first.

He played Nc6. I think he should have played Nbd7.

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    I have read from multiple sources that annotating your games are encouraged. It would be rather interesting if it turns out to be illegal.
    – firtydank
    Apr 1, 2014 at 7:42
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    It's definitely encouraged, but not during the game. Apr 1, 2014 at 10:04
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    Maybe this chess-news.ru/en/node/18591 can help to clarify the question. The answer is NO as @RemcoGerlich says, and as you can see Wesley So lost his game because he was taking notes
    – sharcashmo
    Jun 27, 2016 at 15:14

3 Answers 3


No. Notes could help you during the game, and therefore they aren't allowed. The Laws of Chess say:

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

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.

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    @ragu.pattabi Alternative moves are clearly notes, which are explicitly forbidden by 12.3. Mar 30, 2014 at 16:37
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    @FranS "players are forbidden to make use of any notes" [my emphasis]. Not "forbidden to make use of notes written before the game" but any notes at all. Pre-written notes, noted made during the game, notes on the scoresheet, notes on your hand, notes in a plastic bag in the lavatory cistern, notes in English, notes in Klingon, notes in the secret language you made up with your best friend when you were seven. If it's a note, it's forbidden. Apr 1, 2014 at 8:10
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    @FranS I'm sorry but I can't see any reasonable interpretation of "it is forbidden to make use of any notes" other than that it is forbidden to make use of any notes. Apr 1, 2014 at 9:42
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    @FranS: the purpose of the rule is very clear indeed: you are not allowed to write down anything that might possibly help you with the game. Remember that it used to be common to write down a move, then think about it a bit more, then make it, to prevent blunders. But that was explicitly outlawed because it counted as an example of using notes. If writing down a single move isn't allowed, making longer notes certainly isn't. Apr 1, 2014 at 10:03
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    In fact writing down "He should have played Nbd7" on your scoresheet (which has to be visible to the opponent at all times) could be seen as an attempt to influence him, it's worse than just a note. Apr 1, 2014 at 10:05

@ragu.pattabi wrote: { Agreed pre written notes are not allowed. But it still doesn't seem to forbid alternative moves ('other relevant data') – ragu.pattabi Mar 30 '14 at 15:12 }

The rule definitely forbids writing your style of annotations on anything including your scoresheet, until after the game is completed. Definitely.

Reasons Why - include the following: Nobody wants the hassle of having to scrutinize your "annotations" to see if that is what they are. Any magician could devise codes to look like annotations but mean something else. And a hundred other reasons.


First off, I don't actually know whether it is allowed or not, but I have a number of reasons to believe that it may be allowed, or at least be somewhat allowed.

  1. Although the rule technically states that "During play the players are forbidden to make use of any notes...", it is not entirely clear from that section of rules by what is meant by "a note". The obvious interpretation is that it points to "crib notes". Does it include annotations you make as you play? This is not clear to me.

  2. I have personally played in an ECF rated chess tournament where there was a prize awarded to the player with the best annotated score sheet. It is strange to me that the tournament organizers would endorse a practice that is forbidden by FIDE.

  3. I fail to understand the logic of such a rule. Making personal annotations of your thoughts and ideas during a match does not, as far as I can see, assist you in any way during the actual match, as it still amounts to your personal ability to play the game. To me it seems analogous to making personal notes while writing a maths exam - why would this practice be forbidden?

I think there is enough doubt about the interpretation of this rule to require of us to get some clarification. I will most certainly ask an arbiter at my next tournament.

Update: The Wesley So incident in the 2015 US champs probably settled this once and for all - it is not allowed. But in my defence - even Kasparov thinks this is a stupid rule [ http://www.chess-news.ru/en/node/18625 ].

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    1. I cannot explain that but I've not read the book. 2. Why do you think "any notes" only means "some notes"? The most obvious interpretation is that it means "any notes"! 3. That is bizarre but the scoresheet could be annotated after the game. 4. Of course it assists you. Suppose you write down "Nd4 fails to Qb4" -- there's a good chance that will still be true after a couple more moves have been played. Apr 1, 2014 at 12:09
  • @David - 2. The term "note" is loaded - it can have a general meaning (any scribbling whatsoever on a piece of paper), or a specific meaning (a note made to record some information that cannot be remembered otherwise for later reference). I am not convinced the meaning of the word is sufficiently clarified as stated in the rule. The rest of the rule seems to focus on "sources of information", which to me indicates the second (specific) meaning. 4. I see your point, but you still came to that insight on your own, right?
    – firtydank
    Apr 1, 2014 at 12:28
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    The rules explicitly disallow the use of any notes, and explicitly disallow writing down moves in advance. I don't see how you can come to the conclusion that writing notes/annotations during the game is compatible with any of those rules. You are making notes that assist with your thinking, and you are also writing down moves in advance (as you would be writing moves that have not yet been made on the board). Apr 1, 2014 at 15:15
  • @Grizzy - Yeah, I still think there is a difference between writing down a move before you play it, and ad-hocly making a note about what other moves you could have played (even if that move is still available for the next move). But I can see that policing this type of thing must be difficult. Seems like the lawyers won this one then.
    – firtydank
    Apr 2, 2014 at 10:27
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    @supercat - In my opinion rule 12 is very clear and disallows the use/writing of any kind of notes, even if they were to be put away immediately. For example, it may be easier to analyse a potential line of play by writing it down step by step rather than calculating it in your head. Making such a note would then clearly be an unjustified thinking aid/source of information. And who oversees the slips of paper and boxes at all times during a game? As an arbiter, I have to watch the games - further, how can I accurately and objectively determine which papers unjustly provided help? Apr 2, 2014 at 20:55

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