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CHESS NOTATION 135: LAN Gems for Students
Compiled by ChessCoachClark

Long Algebraic Notation (LAN) is not the most popular form of chess scoring systems, but it is quite useful and has advantages over other systems.

To show a turn/ply, LAN starts with the abbreviation of the chess piece (or a figurine/icon for international purposes), but no symbol for the Pawn. Then it gives the starting square, a hyphen/minus sign and the ending square. So, when Black moves out the Knight on the King's side, one would write Ng8-f6.

For captures, replace the hyphen with a lowercase "X" and Promotion just needs the abbreviation of the upgraded piece at the end: g2-g1N.

Castling is the same as in SAN-- O-O for the King's side or short castling and O-O-O for the Queen's side or long castling. By the way, those are capital letters, not zeroes, per the USCF (United States Chess Federation).

It is more tedious to use LAN because it shows both the starting and ending locations of the move. The flip side of this point is that a beginner can understand it more easily. In fact, many books for beginners do use LAN.

Another advantage is that there are no ambiguous moves to resolve when moves are recorded by LAN. Any error is corrected more easily in LAN because of the fact that each turn/ply has two pieces of information, not just one. Still another benefit to it is that the game can be easily restored if there is an error or one needs to backtrack from a given position.

It has been reported that FIDE (the World Chess Federation) has not accepted LAN for decades. The USCF does accept LAN, so make your own choice about learning it or not.

I do feel that one can be versatile, getting to know more than one notation system. One could even learn the EDN (English Description Notation) system that has been around for nearly a century and will be seen in chess literature up to the 1970's and 1980's. Some famous books are still being printed with EDN today. Publishers want to avoid the expense of converting to Algebraic Notation and error checking, obviously.

Well, here are actual games that you can use to practice LAN. Convert a game by watching the moves in a PGN viewer, but ignoring the SAN listing in the window (you may even want to hide that area by resizing the window). Check your work by playing the game on a physical board or with the PGN viewer with its preferences set to LAN, rather than SAN.

This game collection will be limited to 15 games. Games are listed in date order, not in order of importance.

Smothered Mate ends this game
NN vs Greco, 1620 
(C50) Giuoco Piano, 13 moves, 0-1

26. Nc6# was missed by Kasparov!
Kasparov vs C Tambasco, 2004 
(C05) French, Tarrasch, 29 moves, 1-0

2 games

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