Why Do Chess Players Record Their Moves?

Recording Your Chess Moves

One question that has caused an eternal debate in the chess world is, Why do chess players record their moves? There’s no doubt that chess is an interesting game to learn and play. Whether a newbie or an experienced player, recording your moves is imperative and beneficial.

This article uncovers the importance and benefits of recording chess moves as you play. Stay with us.

Chess player

Why Do Chess Players Record Their Moves?

If you have been to a chess tournament, you might have at some point asked yourself, what do chess players write down? They write down every single chase move they make, but why is this so important?

Fundamentally, it is a requirement under the International Chess Federation (FIDE) rules. As stated in the FIDE laws of chess, all participants should adhere to conventional chess rules. Therefore, making notes of one’s movements is a requirement in FIDE-rated chess tournaments.

It’s a FIDE Requirement

Article 8.1.1 of the FIDE laws of chess contains a specific section that provides instructions on how to keep track of moves. If a player cannot record their movements on the score sheet, they should appoint game assistants to do so. They do this on the player’s behalf.

Additionally, it is usual for each chess player to sign their score sheets following the conclusion of their match. From this, you can see how important it is to record the moves on the scoresheet.

The only exceptions to this rule of recording the moves are in rapid chess games where the time limit is more than 10 minutes but less than 60 minutes, as per FIDE, and when the player has less than 5 minutes left on their clock and does not have extra 30 seconds or more added with each move.

You don’t need to write down your moves when playing casually. However, doing so is a beneficial habit.

Facilitates Drawing By Threefold Repetition

One of the many chess regulations is the draw by triple repetition. In simple terms, three-fold repetition is the occurrence of the same place three times. The player who has the turn to move must make a claim, albeit they don’t need to do so in succession.

Now follow the steps outlined in FIDE Articles and

If the same position occurs three times with the same player to move, the other player can make a claim; however, the player must first record this information on the scoreboard before approaching the judge with their request.

Or the player with the move might claim this if the same position recently happened a third time.

Additionally, it becomes an equal position if the same player has the opportunity to move, the same pieces are in the same locations, the right to castle is the same, and the probability of en passant capture.

A written record of your actions is crucial to follow this guideline and claim the draw. As a result, the judge can quickly verify the positions from the scorecard and provide the decision if you claim a draw. Thus, writing actions aid in drawing a draw through triple repetition.

The chess game from ChessBase India demonstrates the occurrence of three-fold repetition in practice.

Aids In Making Draw Claims Under The 50 Move Rule

A player can declare a draw if there hasn’t been any piece movement or capture in the previous 50 moves, known as the “50 move rule.” It is a straightforward process for asserting a draw under this rule following FIDE Articles 9.3.1 and 9.3.2.

A player must record each move on a scoresheet and inform the judge. The judge will then determine whether they will apply the 50-move rule after that move or if a player has already played 50 moves without any piece movement or capture.

The judge has to assess the movements on a scoreboard and determine whether to accept or reject the claim. Therefore, in this instance, a written record is beneficial for a player to assert the draw.

Remember that the game doesn’t terminate immediately according to either the 50-move rule or the three-fold repetition rule. The player should claim it.

The arbiter (referee in a chess match) can, however, declare a draw following the new 75-move regulations (if there hasn’t been any pawn movement or capture within the last 75 moves) and the five-fold repetition rule (the same position repeated for at least five times). In these situations, claiming is not necessary.

Assists In Showing That The Move is Within Time Limit

A player must complete a predetermined number of moves in some chess games within a predetermined amount of time. The player faces the appropriate penalties if they go over the allotted time.

What Takes Place When A Player Runs Out Of Time? How do you verify that you followed the rules? By keeping written records, of course! Right? Thus, recording your movements on a scoresheet demonstrates that you followed the rules and completed the necessary number of moves within the allotted time.

Prevents Plagiarism

Assume you are competing in a chess tournament and have placed your opponent in a situation where they might lose the game.

Suppose the adversary makes a wrong move or alters the placement of some of the pieces on the board. Then, when you assert that your opponent is mistaken. The only proof you have at that point is the written record of maneuvers.

You can present your scoresheet to the referee. The judgment will be in your favor. Thus, this practice discourages cheating.

Written Records Are More Reliable

According to FIDE rules articles 6.12.1 and 6.12.2, written records are more reliable.

Although today’s digital chess boards, which are extremely realistic, can display the movement of the chess pieces in real time, the traditional written records technique is still widely practiced.

Written documents are relatively straightforward, trustworthy, and simple to utilize. The score sheets are simple for the arbitrator to understand; they can then decide whether to accept or reject each claim.

Moreover, written records are more helpful in some complex situations. For instance, the draw offers made by chess players are not recorded on electronic boards.

A player must make a record of each draw offer on their scoresheet. As a result, the scoresheet records this. Therefore, the judge can simply check the scoresheet and decide if there is a dispute.

It helps in post-game analysis.

When you record the moves on a scoresheet, you document the entire game on paper. So, after the game, you can evaluate your blunders and areas where you might have made a better choice.

Writing down the moves becomes quite useful for later self-analysis of your game.

Additionally, you can enter your chess moves into your chess engine and then analyze based on the errors the engine flags.

Enter each move one at a time into the chess engine’s software, which will evaluate your game using references from its vast database.

Should I Record My Chess Moves?

All players must record their movements to play in games organized by other professional chess associations and the International Chess Federation (FIDE), the most significant chess body.

Anyone who wants to play chess professionally must understand how to record a game’s moves per current guidelines.

Although it is not necessary to keep records when playing casual games, many amateur players do so for various reasons.

Chess players use score sheets for several purposes aside from the requirement that they should be complete per the game rules.

Below is a list of the key uses of chess score sheets:

  • To reconstruct the game.
  • To arbitrate game disputes.
  • A signed score sheet indicates that both players have accepted the game results.

The Benefits of Recording Chess Moves

Writing down the moves in a chess game is crucial for many reasons, including respecting the game’s rules. Thanks to this article, you will always have a record of the game and how you played it. So, if you have been wondering, why do chess players write down their moves? Here is why:

Aids in Proving a Draw

Many people believe chess games always have a winner and a loser. However, that is not the situation. A chess competition may also end in a draw, but the judge of the chess match must agree and accept the draw.

There are various techniques to record each draw and multiple routes leading to a draw. The person in charge of the match can rapidly decide if the player has truly made a mistake, and it is not a draw situation.

This would not be possible if no record of the individual moves were on record.

Shows Time

The vast majority of competitive chess matches are usually on a timer. These timed matches are crucial to observe and raise the game’s difficulty.

In a nutshell, in a timed match, players must record a predetermined number of moves in the allotted time. As a player, you risk facing a penalty for not recording these moves during that time.

In chess, deciding which move to make can be challenging, but timing those moves makes it even more difficult. Therefore, you might not be ready for a tournament style of play if you cannot play chess, follow the game within the time constraints, and make the right moves.

At the top of the score sheet, each player notes the time on the clock. They also record and store each move on the scoresheet as the game continues. Both plays will have to record their final time when the game is over.

The chess match judge can review the scoring, verify that both players finished all their movements in due time, and determine a clear winner.

Timed chess is challenging; therefore, adding a timer to the game might make sense if you often play for fun to add some variety.

Stops Cheating

Chess is a game that involves both exceptional skill and moral rectitude. If you are a newbie to chess, you will immediately discover how crucial each move is and how cheating is unacceptable in this game.

To demonstrate that cheating was not a factor, keeping a written record of each game makes sense. Most of the time, cheating occurs just before an opponent is about to lose.

The adversary might have realized their error and attempted to change the piece on the board to help them win the game. This certainly breaks the chess rules.

The good thing is that you can easily confirm whether your opponent cheated by checking the scoreboard if you have a suspicion they have.

A judge will examine the score sheet. They will determine whether a particular player moved a piece(s) in their favor; and the game rather than as part of a necessary move.

Cheating is a major offense, and judges should guard players against it, even if it can occasionally happen in the game of chess. This is just another justification for why players should document each move in a game in every chess tournament.

More Trustworthy Records

When playing chess with friends, recording moves on paper guarantees a more trusted record. You might wonder why this procedure is so crucial, given that computerized chess boards are now available.

You can record moves on electronic chess boards. The board keeps track of each move made by a player and then switches back to the other player afterward. However, despite how much simpler these boards make the recording, they are not always a reliable solution.

Electronics are susceptible to errors and problems. Due to these problems, they may fail to record scores for a significant chunk of the game.

As a result, there won’t be any documentation of the game, leaving players to try to piece together what took place. Instead, in the game of chess, the written record has grown in credibility.

Chess is not a new game, as you are probably aware. Players have developed faith in these written outcomes through time and have used them for various purposes, including game analysis, cheating prevention, and more.

Once the match is over, an arbitrator can easily review the written record of the contest. These individuals know what to look for on the scorecard and how to contribute to a draw determination.

The inability of a player to pause and record their draw when utilizing an electronic board is a significant drawback.

Even though technology continually evolves, not all chess competitions now use electronic game recordings.

Learn to quickly record your moves if you plan to play competitive chess to avoid having your performance suffer.

When your first competitions begin, you probably won’t have this talent.

Chess player thinking

Personal Development And Analysis

Keeping track of a chess game will help you analyze and develop. Chess players can review the history to determine where they made mistakes.

They can use this recording to rehearse and play while learning from their mistakes.

Players can review the game’s history to repeat every action. These actions will demonstrate why you won or lost. One can make long-term progress by understanding what might have led to a win or a loss.

If you know any professional chess players, one thing they’ll try to improve is research some well-known games. Then, they can learn new techniques and concepts from these games and apply them to their next game.


Chess is not as easy as most people think; it is a difficult game to learn and master. However, players will be able to perform better throughout game rounds when they have the option to reflect on their past performance and see how they have changed.

Chess enthusiasts will learn specific moves and combinations. Players can use these tips to assist them in winning a game if they position themselves correctly.

It’s crucial to recognize these stances and then take the appropriate actions. The surest method to obtain this is to videotape maneuvers so that you can later refine them.

Benefits of Chess Playing

Chess is amusing for many people, but you might not be aware of its many other advantages. Here is a glance at the benefits of chess playing:

Boosts Memory

Chess requires players to recall several move combinations and their rivals’ preferred tactics.

We have seen experiments that show chess players have superior memory compared to non-players when it comes to recalling lists of words and visual patterns.

Even the elderly have benefited from chess by having less dementia. A cognitive disorder known as dementia causes people to lose their capacity for both recent and distant memories.

Improve Problem-solving Capabilities

To deal with problems in a professional or personal setting, everyone needs good problem-solving skills since the ultimate challenge in chess is to overtake the opponent’s king without allowing them to reach their king first.

Social Engagement

Some chess players think their social abilities are below average. But that is not the case; players can engage with others in a social setting as they play.

Due to his social awkwardness, renowned chess player Bobby Fischer left high school at 16. Even if some claim he still lacked social graces as an adult, playing with others undoubtedly helped him become more socially adept and conduct decently in public.

Lessen Anxiety

When playing chess, whether online or in person, those who have anxiety can get some relief. To the point that some players substitute playing chess for anti-anxiety medicine, the game can divert the player from their stressors and lead to fewer panic attacks.

Some therapists even encourage patients to let their guard down by using chess therapy, which helps to build a better patient-therapist bond.

How to Record Your Chess Moves

Chess players use the following abbreviations to identify the piece in question while recording chess moves initially:

K – King

Q – Queen

B – Bishop

R – Rook

N – Knight

Pawn moves are usually not identified with a letter by players.

The player will add an “X” to the end of the acronym if the piece successfully captures an enemy piece. Then, they will record the piece’s final square.

The columns have letters A through H from the white plater’s point of view. Each row gets a number from 1 to 8 vertically.

A player can add an “x” at the end of the notation if a player puts their king in jeopardy.

By adding the final markers to the conclusion of their notations, analysts can offer feedback on how they see moves after they have occurred. Possible moves include: 

?! – Dubious move

!? – Unexpected move

?? – Awful move

? – Bad move

! – Good move

!! – Excellent move

How To Get Better At Chess

Everyone enjoys success. It takes time to develop to the point where you will win more frequently. You can practice and rise to the level of a grandmaster.

A grandmaster is the highest distinction a player may achieve in the game of chess. Once a chess player attains the grandmaster title, they can never lose it.

A chess player’s ultimate objective is to win a world championship addition to this title. It is an honor awarded to those who triumph in the most difficult competitions. Most chess grandmasters go on to play professionally.

Here are a few actions you must follow to advance your chess skills consistently and eventually reach your objectives.

Know The Rules 

If you don’t learn the game’s rules, you’ll make a lot of blunders that are simple to avoid. Every chess player must familiarize themself with and practice the following rules:

  • You must play a chess piece if you touch it.
  • In transit
  • Castling
  • Pawn marketing

Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

The most important thing is to play chess as much as you can. While playing video games on an electronic device might be a good challenge, playing against people is always preferable. It’s ideal to resemble the setting of your upcoming match as closely as possible.

You should always record all your moves as you would in a competitive game because you should review them after practice to search for methods to get better.

Learn Common Strategies/Tactics 

Knowing the standard chess strategies will enable you to halt an opponent if you anticipate their move or employ them yourself.

Decide in advance whether you want to play offensively or defensively. The majority of players favor an offensive approach.

Naturally, the opening scene can significantly influence the game’s ending. To finish strong, you must start strong. The finest opening moves, however, are hotly contested, as they might differ depending on whether you play white or black (white goes first).

Here are two examples of typical opening scenes:

  • Ruy Lopez’s Position to Start.
  • Initial Defense Position for Sicily.

Once the game begins, you must become familiar with the various attacks. The most typical chess strategies are:

Force a piece to remain in place by pinning it, or a more valuable piece may become vulnerable.

Skewering is the act of removing a piece from its current position to preserve a more priceless component by sacrificing itself.

Fork: simultaneously attacking two pieces that are in opposition.

Finally, you’ll discover how to use various checkmate patterns to your advantage to win the game.

Common checkmate patterns include the following:

  • Queen and Knight
  • Queen and Bishop
  • King and Pawn
  • Bishop and Knight
  • Bishop and Bishop
  • Smothered Mate
  • Rook and Knight

Put Yourself in the Position of Your Opponent

Chess is a mental game. That, however, also refers to the thinking of your adversary in addition to your own. Consider your opponent a poker opponent, and analyze them to see how they react in various scenarios. With this knowledge, you can guess what they might have planned to do next.

Throughout the game, you must simultaneously try your hardest to keep your thoughts hidden.

Observe the Greats  

Watching top chess players compete against one another can teach you how they play. Look for elements that you may add to your own game.

You can watch chess tournaments on television or in previous games online if you don’t have access to top players in person.

Chess Tournaments

You can try to compete in one of the world’s elite chess tournaments once you achieve the coveted title of grandmaster.

Since the first chess tournament in London in 1851, people have used these events to identify the top chess players worldwide.

Below are a few international chess tournaments:

Tata Steel Chess Tournament 

It’s often referred to as the “Wimbledon of chess.” The Tata Steel Chess Tournament is a major chess tournament across the world. 

There are fourteen grandmasters present for the round-robin competition. In 2021, Jordan van Foreest triumphed spectacularly. Magnus Carlsen, who has seven victories, owns the record; Viswanathan Anand, who has five victories, is second.

Chess Olympiad  

The Chess Olympiad adds a patriotic component to the game by pitting the finest chess players from several nations against one another to see which one will win. Each team has four active players and one standby.

With a total of 18, the Soviet Union had the most gold medals (with Russia having six gold medals after the dissolution of the Soviet Union). With six gold medals, the United States came in second.

According to the number of medals earned, the top three American competitors were Bobby Fischer, James Tarjan, and Isaac Kashdan (3).

Candidates’ Match/World Chess Championship

The Candidate’s Tournament decides players who will compete in the prestigious World Championship of Chess. FIDE manages the candidate’s Tournament.

The Candidate’s Tournament winner faces the incumbent from the previous year.

The longest-reigning champion is Emanuel Lasker, who won 27 consecutive matches from 1894 to 1921.

Once you practice and compete to the level of a grandmaster, you will get to know why grandmasters play move chess.

The Different Chess Recording Methods

There are a few alternative methods for recording chess moves that can be useful in various circumstances. To avoid disqualification, always enter your chess moves correctly.

Here are some chess recording methods:

Algebraic Chess Notation

Both the International Chess Federation (FIDE) and the United States Chess Federation employ the Algebraic Chess Notation, the most widely used method of recording chess moves.

Since the introduction of this notation in the well-known German chess book “Handbuch des Schachspiels”, it has gained widespread acceptance. Chess players can write Algebraic Notation in various recognized forms as valid Standard Algebraic Notation (SAN), including the starting file and rank of a piece recorded by the Long Algebraic Notion (LAN).

Short Algebraic Notion omits the starting file and rank of a piece unless essential to avoid confusion and ambiguity.

The Minimal Algebraic Notion (MAN) replaces the symbols for capture (x), check (+), and checkmate (#) but leaves out the beginning file and rank of a piece unless necessary.

Descriptive Chess Notation 

The descriptive chess idea, which was the most widely used before 1970, describes each move in detail. Since this notation takes longer than other solutions, most people prefer using other simpler algebraic chess ideas instead.

ICCF Numeric Notation

The International Chess Correspondence Foundation (ICCF) introduced this notation, which exclusively contains integers, to prevent misunderstandings among players who speak different languages.

Smith Notation 

Chess players use the Smith notation to clarify and record:

  • Source square
  • Destination square
  • Pieces captured

Instances When Chess Recording is Unnecessary

If you’ve ever witnessed a speed chess match, you might be curious how each player would record their move. It is acceptable to play rapid chess without recording the moves according to the game’s rules.

Additionally, if a certain player has five or fewer minutes left on their clock than five, they might not need to write down the movements.

While recording a move in chess can take some time, the purpose is not to impede or slow down play.

Sometimes you can employ a game assistant to help with the recording process if the player cannot record for some reason after each round.

Writing down your movements is not necessary if you are playing chess with friends, of course. However, some people discover that studying the chess moves made in earlier games can teach them about strategy.

Man playing chess

The Bottom Line

Hopefully, you now understand why you should record your chess moves. The process is not complicated but beneficial. It helps you focus on learning since the game can be difficult sometimes. In advanced chess competitions, it is mandatory, as stated in FIDE regulations. 

Having your chase moves written down is fundamental in keeping track of your previous move, remaining time, next move, and what transpired between the players. This is one reason why grandmasters are playing move chess. 

Generally, recording chess moves is great practice for every chess player. You should make it a habit if you want to master the art of chess.

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