Simple chess notation question
July 15, 2021 2:27 AM   Subscribe

I ran across this chess problem and... I can't follow the given solution. Is there a chess program where you input the notation and it illustrates the moves? I have looked on LiChess but not found anything... Puzzle below -

I saw the puzzle at futility closet. I'm not a good chess player, but I enjoy it within my limits. I had a solution for the problem, or the start of one then clicked for the 'answer' but couldn't follow their solution. Here's the solution written out in straight-forward notation:

1. Qa7!

1. … Kg5 2. Qe3#.
1. … Kxg3 2. Ne2#.
1. … Ke5 2. Nd3#.
1. … Ne5 2. Qe3#.

My problem is, Kg5.. then Kxg3 but how does the king move those two squares in one move? I'm reading this wrong but I just don't know how.

Thank you.
posted by From Bklyn to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You're misreading the solution. They're listing four possible responses to Qa7, all of which lead to checkmate. (I didn't look at the problem to see if those are the only 4 possible moves for black.)
posted by hoyland at 2:35 AM on July 15, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Chess notation always numbers moves in pairs, with White's move and then Black's response following the move number; if White's move isn't listed then there is always a ... where it would have been.

So 1. Qa7! means that this is move 1 of the solution, that the move is made by White (because the move is given right after the move number, with no ... in between), that the white Queen moves to square a7. The ! suffix means that this is considered a good move. A !! would mean that it's considered an excellent move, probably difficult to find.

1. ... Kg5 2. Qe3# means that Black's response to move 1 of the solution is to move the black King to g5 (you can tell it's Black because there is a ... between the move number and the move), and then move 2 of the solution has White moving the Queen to e3. The # suffix means checkmate.

The rest of the moves are all alternative responses that Black could make to move 1. If they were instead a sequence of moves, you'd see the move numbers increasing and you wouldn't see White's last move tagged with a Checkmate suffix.

Other suffixes besides # include + which means Check, ? which means a mistake, ?? which means a terrible mistake or blunder, and !? which means that the move is novel and/or interesting but potentially unsound.
posted by flabdablet at 3:50 AM on July 15, 2021 [6 favorites]

Wikipedia's article on Portable Game Notation is decent, and almost all modern chess writing uses notation that's similar enough to PGN to be completely understandable to anybody who knows PGN.
posted by flabdablet at 4:35 AM on July 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you so much - it was a bit like an optical illusion, I knew I wasn’t seeing it right but it wasn’t clear to me how. And it was making me a little crazy.
posted by From Bklyn at 4:54 AM on July 15, 2021

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