Playing lots of chess is all very well, but to get the most enjoyment from the game you need to learn to read and write chess.

OK, yes, there's also a VERY GOOD REASON why I want you to learn it.

Each square has a name.

It's MUCH EASIER for me to talk about "the Knight on f6" than to say "the Knight in front of the Pawn in front of the Bishop next to the King".

If you don't like it, tough!

If you learn to read chess it opens up an exciting world of chess books and magazines.

There are THOUSANDS to choose from so you're sure to find something you like.

I can recommend the book on your left. (It's hard to find but if you want to buy a copy email me and let me know.)

If you learn to write chess, one really cool thing you can do is write down the moves of all your games.

Here's why you should do it.

1. You can keep a permanent record of your games to show your children and grandchildren.
2. You can go through your games (if possible, with a stronger player) to find out where you made mistakes.
3. If you win a good game you can show your friends how brilliant you are.
4. You can claim a draw by the 50 move rule or by repetition.
5. If you knock a piece off the board you'll know where to replace it.
6. Your opponents won't be able to cheat by moving pieces around while you're out of the room.
7. In important tournaments you HAVE to write your moves down.

English Grandmaster Nigel Short wrote:

"I first began to record my games in books just before my ninth birthday. I should have recorded all my games but I didn't realize the importance of it."

OK, so some people think it's boring. But if you get used to it you'll get so much more out of chess.

It's probably best to play for a year or so and get used to the game before you start.

Here's an empty chess board.

If you're very observant you might just notice some letters and numbers round the outside.

Each FILE (remember those, they go UP AND DOWN the board) has a letter, from A to H.

And every RANK has a number, from 1 to 8.

Easy so far, isn't it?

Eash SQUARE on the chess board has a name.

That name is made up of the LETTER of the FILE followed by the NUMBER of the RANK the square is on.

If you've ever played Battleships you'll know how it works.

The squares go from a1 to a8, from a1 to h1, from h1 to h8, from a8 to h8.

Easy peasy!

Here's the starting position.

Note that the WHITE PIECES always start on numbers 1 and 2.

And the BLACK PIECES, amazingly enough, start on numbers 7 and 8.

Where is the WHITE KING? On e1.

And the BLACK KNIGHTS? On b8 and g8.

The WHITE PAWNS are on a2, b2, c2, d2, e2, f2, g2 and h2.

You'll find the BLACK QUEEN on d8.

Each different sort of piece has a letter.

K for King. Q for Queen. R for Rook.

B for Bishop. And N for KNight. (Yes, I know it starts with a K but so does King. So there!)

And the Pawns? They're so small and weedy they don't get a letter at all.

Note that we use CAPITAL (big) letters for pieces and SMALL letters for squares.

There are two ways to write down your moves. In the LONG WAY where you write the letter of the piece, the square it moves FROM and the square it moves TO

In the SHORT WAY you don't bother with the square it moves FROM.

In the easier lessons we'll use the LONG way because it's easier to follow.

For instance, if we move a Knight from g1 to f3 we write Ng1-f3 or, if you prefer, Nf3.

A pawn move is written just using the squares: e2-e4 or just e4.

To write down a capture we use the letter x. If a Knight on f3 CAPTURES a Pawn on e5 we write Nf3xe5, or just Nxe5.

If a pawn on e4 takes something on d5 we write exd5 or, in the short form, exd5.

If we play a CHECK we write a + sign after the move: Bf1-b5+.

For CHECKMATE we use the # sign: Qh5xf7#.

If you castle on the King side it's 0-0, and on the Queen side you write 0-0-0.

There's a bit more to it than that but that's all you need to know for now.

You'll be able to do a quiz to test how quickly you can find the squares on a board.

Other lessons will also give you more practice at reading chess moves.

Click here for a quiz on the names of the squares.