Aloibraic Notation

No one knows for certain who invented the game of chess. Sir William Jones, writing in his eighteenth century essay 'On The Indian Game of Chess', suggested that it evolved in Hindustan. Known as 'Chaturanga1, it consisted of elephants, horses, chariots, and footsoldiers. Chaturanga reached the Arab lands in sixth century ad (where it became known as Chatrang) and was taken up in the west a century later. One thing we can be sure of is that the Arabs, in the ninth century ad, devised the now universally accepted method of recording chess games.

'Algebraic notation', as it is known, divides the chessboard up into vertical ranks of numbers (1-8) and horizontal columns of letters (a-h), giving each of the 64 squares its own co-ordinates.

The Chessboard

8

a8

b8

c8

d8

e8

f8

g8

h8

7

a7

b7

c7

d7

e7

f7

g7

h7

6

a6

b6

c6

d6

e6

fB

g6

h6

5

a5

b5

c5

d5

e5

f5

g5

h5

4

a4

b4

c4

d4

e4

f4

g4

h4

3

a3

b3

c3

d3

e3

ß

g3

h3

2

a2

b2

c2

d2

e2

f2

g2

h2

1

al

bl

cl

dl

el

n

gl

hl

a

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

The white pieces are set up in ranks 1 and 2; the black pieces are set up in ranks 7 and 8. Each of the main pieces is also given a letter:

King = K, Queen = Q, Rook = R, Knight = N, Bishop = B

All moves are represented by the co-ordinates of the square of arrival. Thus, if a White Knight moves from its starting position, bl to c3, the move is recorded as Kc3. Or if a Bishop moves from cl to a3, it is recorded as Ka3. There is no letter to denote a Pawn. If a Pawn moves from e2 to e4, it is economically recorded as e4.

It just so happens that the Dominic system is perfecdy suited to algebraic notation. The co-ordinates, consisting of one letter (column) and one number (rank), are already half-way to becoming people. A simple conversion of the number co-ordinate into a second letter will translate every one of the 64 squares into individual, memorable characters.

Using the Dominic system, square c3, for example, translates into CC (c — C; 3 — C), which in turn translates into Charlie Chaplin. Square h2 becomes Humphrey Bogart (h = H; 2 = B); d7 becomes David Gower (d = D; 7 — G); and so on.

There is only one small alteration to make. When you first learnt the DOMINIC SYSTEM, I suggested representing 6 as an S rather than an f. Similarly, the f column on a chessboard should be represented as an 's\ Thus, the square f3 translates into Sean Connery (f = S; 3 = C).

I have printed out below 64 characters and their respective positions on the chessboard. As ever, your own people are preferable to mine.

THE DOMINIC CHESSBOARD

8

Adolf

Benny

Charlton

Daryl

Edward

Sherlock

Gloria

Hulk

Hitler

Hill

Heston

Hannah

Heath

Holmes

Hunniford

Hogan

7

Alec

Bob

Charles

David

Elizabeth

Stefane

Germaine

Hughie

Guinness

Geldof

de Gaulle

Gower

Goddard

Grappelli

Greer

Green

6

Arthur

Bram

Claudia

Delia

Ebenezer

Steven

Graham

Harry

Scaigill

Stoker

Schieffer

Smith

Scrooge

Spielberg

Souness

Secombe

5

Albert

Brian

Clint

Duke

Eddie

Stefan

Gloria

Harry

Einstein

Epstein

Eastwood

Ellington

Edwards

Edberg

Estafan

Enfield

4

Arthur

Bernard

Christopher

Dickie

Eliza

Sharron

Gerard

Humphrey

Daley

Davey

Dean

Davies

Doolittle

Davies

Depardieu

Davey

3

Andy

Bill

Charlie

David

Eric

Sean

Gerry

Henry

Capp

Clinton

Chaplin

Copperfield

Clapton

Connery

Cottle

Cooper

2

Alastair

Betty

Cilia

David

Eric

Seve

George

Humphrey

Burnet

Boothroyd Black

Bowie

Bristow

Ballesteros

Bush

Bogart

1

Arthur

Bryan

Charles

David

Eamon

Susan

Gary

Howard

Askey

Adams

Atlas

Attenborough Andrews

Anton

Armstrong

Aiken

a

b

c

d

e

f

K

h

Once every square has been assigned a person, the task of memorizing chess moves already looks less daunting. As far as I am concerned, Seve Ballesteros or Claudia Schieffer are much easier to remember than f2 or c6. However, the pieces themselves must also be assigned characters.

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