Members · Prefs · Laboratory · Collections · Openings · Endgames · Sacrifices · History · Search Kibitzing · Kibitzer's Café · Chessforums · Tournament Index · Players · Kibitzing
CHESS NOTATION 101: SAN Gems for Students
Compiled by ChessCoachClark

Algebraic Notation is the written language of chess moves and the most important of the ways people "talk chess." Putting a long series of sequential chess pictorial diagrams into materials is tedious, so this shortcut method of showing moves for a game is critical to know. All chess books and websites use chess notation. (The only exception I know is the highly-regarded book, BOBBY FISCHER TEACHES CHESS and it does have pictorials aplenty.)

You need to know Algebraic Notation for almost anything about chess. For example, anyone from a coach analyzing an opening for his/her team to an announcer giving commentary at a World Chess Championship speaks using its system. You also need it to learn for your own games, especially if you work with a mentor. You will often be required to use SAN or LAN to write your moves on a score sheet in formal games and USCF or FIDE tournaments, especially to contest something that happened during play.

The Arabs developed Algebraic Notation in ancient times (USCF, EVERYTHING CHESS BASICS BOOK, p. 2) and after intervening changes in Europe, it became the most important system, everywhere in the chess world, more than 30 years ago. All forms of notation look cryptic at first, but all of them have this special benefit:

"One enormous advantage which chess has over the great majority of other games is that to get a record of what happened in an important international contest or in your own friendly encounters is quite easy. There is a special notation which enables you to take down in a convenient shorthand form all that happened." Leonard Barden

This collection is complete as far as is concerned. 15 games seems about the right number of exercises for a series of homework assignments for students. They can start out with several games and then go on to the other games if they need more practice and not be bored.

My full list for SAN teaching includes these games not found (yet) at

Nadezhda Kosintseva vs Siranush Andriasian 1995 46 moves (Girls U10) COMPLEX MATE.

Vaclav Pekar vs Josef Varejcko 2013 23 moves QUEEN AND KNIGHT MATE-- Type A.

This second missing example was Game #4 from IM Jeremy Silman's article, "Hannibal Lecter Presents: Readers' Questions" of Dec 10, 2013.

Algebraic Notation skill is needed by any developing chess champion, including you! Practice will make it become natural and quick to write accurately. So, take some time and make some effort, then notation becomes easy. Get a chess book with lots of games and diagrams, then practice SAN, using a chess set to make those moves as you write them down. Refer to that book's diagrams to double-checking your work. You can do it!

"Any student who is old enough to learn the alphabet is quite capable of learning this new language with ease." Sunil Weeramantry
A Note to Parents and Coaches, p. iv
from SIMPLE CHECKMATES, by A. J. Gillam

Pending Back Rank Mate; Kasparov's favorite since 6 yrs old!
McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais, 1834 
(B32) Sicilian, 37 moves, 0-1

The classic Opera Mate. Truly amazing on your first view of it!
Morphy vs Duke Karl / Count Isouard, 1858  
(C41) Philidor Defense, 17 moves, 1-0

Pending Queen mate at g7 Due to Absolute Pin
Tarrasch vs B Richter, 1883 
(C77) Ruy Lopez, 18 moves, 1-0

Double Check mate by a master, but other mating nets also
Nimzowitsch vs Ryckhoff, 1910 
(C66) Ruy Lopez, 12 moves, 1-0

The Original Reti's Mate (two forms are possible at the end)
Reti vs Tartakower, 1910 
(B15) Caro-Kann, 11 moves, 1-0

Double Rook mate or Castling Mate and King Hunt/Chase!
Ed. Lasker vs G A Thomas, 1912 
(A40) Queen's Pawn Game, 18 moves, 1-0

Material advantage gained by the Windmill
Carlos Torre vs Lasker, 1925 
(A46) Queen's Pawn Game, 43 moves, 1-0

Castling Fork with Check for Material Advantage
Dunbar vs Chawkin, 1925 
(C45) Scotch Game, 11 moves, 1-0

Castling Fork with Check for Material Advantage
O Feuer vs O'Kelly, 1934 
(C73) Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz Defense, 13 moves, 1-0

Pending Arabian Mate (after 32. ... Bxh6 33. Rh7#)
W Fairhurst vs Menchik, 1935 
(E60) King's Indian Defense, 32 moves, 1-0

Boden's Mate, short and sweet!
Pandolfini vs NN, 1970 
(C80) Ruy Lopez, Open, 15 moves, 1-0

Pending Mate by Three Pieces
R Schnelle vs H Niemoeller, 2001 
(C41) Philidor Defense, 18 moves, 1-0

Pending Anastasia's Mate (18. gxh5 Rh4#; Carlsen was 12!)
J L Hammer vs Carlsen, 2003 
(A46) Queen's Pawn Game, 17 moves, 0-1

13 games

 » View all game collections by ChessCoachClark PGN Download
 » Search entire game collection library
 » Clone this game collection (copy it to your account)
 » FAQ: Help with Game Collections
Home | About | Login | Logout | F.A.Q. | Profile | Preferences | Premium Membership | Kibitzer's Café | Biographer's Bistro | New Kibitzing | Chessforums | Tournament Index | Player Directory | Notable Games | World Chess Championships | Opening Explorer | Guess the Move | Game Collections | ChessBookie Game | Chessgames Challenge | Store | Privacy Notice | Contact Us

Copyright 2001-2020, Chessgames Services LLC