Those letters and numbers along the margin of many chessboards are the coordinate system for naming the squares, commonly called “algebraic notation”.

Chessboards for learning or competition often have letters and numbers along each side with 1-8 horizontal ranks and A-H vertical files creating a coordinate system for recording a chess game on paper or electronically. The lower left square is A1 and the upper right square is H8, with all the squares having their own coordinate name.

Nearly all standard vinyl roll-up chessboards will have this algebraic coordinates. It is not as common on wood chessboards although a popular model is shown.


chess-scoresheetBeginners rely on the coordinate system printed on the chessboard to help them write down their moves, so it’s good for those starting out to start with an “algebraic” chessboard.

Experts know the coordinate “names” of all 64 squares and don’t depend on the visual depiction of coordinates.

These coordinates help players record their games my by move on a game recording sheet or “scoresheet”. Some chess rules for competitive chess depend on an accurately recorded chess game.

Here are some reasons to record a chess game in notation.

  • Save a record to replay the moves and review a game later with a coach and save a personal library of your games in a scorebook
  • Know when a specific number of moves is reached, such as the 40th move, often used for a time control where a predetermined 2 hours is allowed for the first 40 moves and 1 hour is remaining for the rest of the game.
  • If a game is disrupted for any reason, the position can be reset.

See also: How to Read and Write Chess Notation