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I know everyone will say that this is a stupid question, but I'm going to ask it anyway...

Is there a space between the move number and the move algebraic notation?

In other words, which of these is the correct notation? :

1.e4 e5 or 1. e4 e5 ?

26.Nxe4 or 26. Nxe4 ?

8...Bb4+ or 8... Bb4+ ?

I've seen both with and without the space. On Wikipedia there are spaces. But I checked in three of my books and there isn't any space in any of them.

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    I always adamantly claim that there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers. +1 Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 7:37

3 Answers 3

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As you already noted, both are used. Either style is acceptable, and engines, pgn viewers etc. will usually not have any problems with either of them. The most common is probably without the spaces though, especially with long series of moves it can be argued it improves the readability a bit by not having unnecessary extra spaces. In books the notation will probably always be without spaces if for no other reason than to conserve page space over the length of the book.

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From Portable Game Notation Specification and Implementation Guide:

7: Tokens

Tokens may be separated from adjacent tokens by white space characters. (White space characters include space, newline, and tab characters.)

An integer token is a sequence of one or more decimal digit characters. It is a special case of the more general "symbol" token class described below. Integer tokens are used to help represent move number indications (see below). An integer token is terminated just prior to the first non-symbol character following the integer digit sequence.

A period character (".") is a token by itself. It is used for move number indications (see below). It is self terminating.

and

8.2.2: Movetext move number indications

A move number indication is composed of one or more adjacent digits (an integer token) followed by zero or more periods. The integer portion of the indication gives the move number of the immediately following white move (if present) and also the immediately following black move (if present)

So you see that, by spec, any spaces after move number don't matter at all.

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You ask:

Is there a space between the move number and the move algebraic notation?

You leave out when and where, so I'm making some assumptions on my own. One of them is that you are not talking about some well-defined format -- on the simple grounds that all you would need to answer that is to read the specification yourself. Thus, I'm talking of printed matter or near equivalents, intended for human consumption.

Yes, always. While a period is a terminator, it is not enough of a visual separator on its own: it needs additional space. However, if you already have the space, you may be able to do without the period itself. (By space I mean any horizontal space: from hair space to em space and beyond. In this particular case, an en space or wider seems required, though.)

In other words, which of these is the correct notation? :

1.e4 e5 or 1. e4 e5 ?

26.Nxe4 or 26. Nxe4 ?

In both cases, the second of the two alternatives. Note however, that using a full space may be excessive. A number space might be enough.

8...Bb4+ or 8... Bb4+ ?

Neither. An ellipsis always stands on its own. It doesn't terminate anything. The correct format would be

  1. ... Bb4+ or 8 ... Bb4+

provided that the space between 8 and ... is of sufficient width to clearly separate the two. (Here is where I begin to suspect that you may be leaning against PGN, which has nothing to do with typography, and should not be assumed to do so.)

This does not change if you use another notation than algebraic. I pick up "Fischer v. Spassky, Reykjavik 1972", which does moves as follows (approximately):

1. Kt-KB3  Kt-KB3
2.   P-B4  P-KKt3
3.  Kt-B3

and

3.    ...  B-Kt3

(White's moves are right-adjusted, Black's move left adjusted. The space allocated for White's move is predefined, as I can find one minor catastrophe when the space disappears entirely:

11.B-KKt5?

I would like to know if the designer is happy with that. I see no reason to believe he is. (Added: ... although, ... it might be the best of two poor choices.)

I've seen both with and without the space. On Wikipedia there are spaces. But I checked in three of my books and there isn't any space in any of them.

Without space might be an simple but ill-advised way for an amateur to avoid a word processor to split a line between the move number and the move. Or it may be an assumption that PGN move format for some reason is suitable for typographical rendition -- which it isn't However, for PGN your questions can be answered ... but then of course, as per my assumptions above, if the context was PGN, you would have turned to the PGN standard for your answer.

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