Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Narrated Algebraic Chess Notation (Alpha-Bravo Algebraic)

Updated October 14, 2013

A spoken chess notation optimized for 

listener comprehension.

By S.C. Luckhardt

Ranks and Files of the Chessboard

Narrated Algebraic Chess Notation (NACN) encodes algebraic chess notation letters a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h for chessboard files as spoken English words. In NACN files of the chessboard are encoded for narration (speaking aloud) as:

Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel

Ranks of the chess board numbered 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 are encoded as the English spoken words:
One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight

In NACN we use the standard algebraic chess notation of the ranks and files of the chessboard, encoded by the IRSA/ICAO spelling alphabet.

The International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet (IRSA) also known as International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) spelling alphabet. The IRSA encoding is the most widely used spoken spelling alphabet.

For detailed information on the IRSA and ICAO spoken spelling alphabets, and their variants check out this Wikipedia article:

Chess Pieces

The standard English names of the chess pieces can be used in narration with excellent clarity.  Narrations making use of standard piece names: King, Queen, Bishop, Knight, Rook, and Pawn are unlikely to be misunderstood by chess players.

Special Moves and Terms Tango, Castles Kilo, Castles Quebec, November Papa, ...  


The term "takes" as in:  "d1 knight takes bishop on e3" or simply "Knight d1 takes on e3" or Nd1 x e3 can be narrated using IRSA "Tango" for takes.

NACN for the above two sentences would be:

"Knight Delta One Tango Bishop Echo Three."


"Knight Delta One Tango Echo Three."

Here we use the standard practice of capitalizing the first letter of each code word. Notice that algebraic notation for Knight is N, but NACN for Knight is the spoken word "Knight." 


NACN for the move "castles kingside or O-O" is "Castles Kilo"
and "castles queenside or O-O-O" is narrated as "Castles Quebec"

Here Quebec is the phonetic code word for the letter Q, and is pronounced as KEH-BECK. This follows the IRSA/ICAO standard spoken spelling alphabet for the letter Q as does Kilo for the letter K.

Pawn promotion:
Pawn promotion consists of a move and a piece name like "f7-f8 Queen."
NACN for pawn promotion is:

"Foxtrot Seven Foxtrot Eight Queen." or 
"Foxtrot Seven Pawn Foxtrot Eight Queen."


Pawn promotion via capture, e.g.  f7 x g8 Queen would be NACN encoded as  "Foxtrot Seven Tango Golf Eight Queen."

Pawn Captures en passant: November Papa

The pawn move  "White pawn on e5 captures black pawn en passant on d5 and moves to d6 on white's tenth move." can be written simply in algebraic notation as "10. e x d6 e.p."  One and only one e-pawn that can move to d6 via e.p. capture, so the notation is unambiguous, though cryptic.  Notice that, the only way for the e5 pawn to get to d6 on this move is to capture en passant. You don't even need the "e.p." for this move.

NACN encodes the move e x d6 e.p. as: "Echo Tango Delta Six."  
or "Echo Five Pawn Tango Delta Six"   or "Echo Tango Delta Six November Papa."

Rendering en of e.p. phonetically as "n" encoded as November, and "p" of e.p. as Papa.   


The standard algebraic notation chess moves:

1. e4 e5, 2. Nf3 Nc6, 3. Bb5 a6

encoded in Narrated Algebraic Chess Notation (NACN) become the spoken phrases
1. Echo Four, Echo Five2. Knight Foxtrot Three, Knight Charlie Six3. Bishop Bravo Five, Alpha Six