How to use our chess guides

Bought our chess guides and not sure how to use them?

Then you’re in the right place.

This page will teach you everything you need to know about using our chess cheat sheets.


Each chess cheat sheet focuses on one specific chess opening. This will be clear on the first page of the cheat sheet. You’ll see the name of the opening, a bit about the opening, and the pros and cons of the opening, alongside a big picture of the opening from White’s perspective.

Below that, you’ll find all the main variations of the opening, alongside Black’s perspective of the opening. These are each titled as appropriate with all the moves of that variation listed below the title.

The following pages are each dedicated to those variations. Each page has the name of the opening, the moves of that opening, and then turn-by-turn gameplay from both White and Black’s perspectives. These are shown as images of the chessboard and have the appropriate turn’s moves underneath. That text is in chess algebraic notation.

What is algebraic notation?

Algebraic notation is the standard way that chess moves are recorded. This method offers clarity and simplicity. Each square on the chess board, from White’s perspective, has a number and letter associated with it. The bottom left square is a1, and the top right square is h8. Each column is a letter, and each row is a number. The middle four squares of the board are d4, e4, d5, and e5. An example chess board with coordinates can be found here.

Turn associations

Every turn is noted with the number of that turn. This is followed by the notations for the piece and any actions taken. Turn 1 will be noted as “1.”, turn 2 as “2.”, and so on. This always begins as White and is followed by Black’s move each turn.

If we’re discussing White’s move in particular, you’d note it as the turn followed by the move, such as “1. e4”. If it’s just for Black, we add 3 dots to indicate skipping White’s turn. For example, 1…d5.

As a full turn depicting both player’s moves, this would be 1. e4 d5.

Further examples can be found in the sections below.

Piece associations

Each piece has a letter associated with it, as follows:

  • A pawn has no letter, and uses that of the square letter it started on.
  • A rook uses the letter R
  • A bishop uses the letter B
  • A knight uses the letter N (and not K, since that is for the king)
  • A queen uses the letter Q
  • A king uses the letter K

Action associations

There are certain actions that also have symbols associated with them, as follows:

  • Captures are represented with an x
  • Check is represented with a +
  • Checkmate is represented with a #

When a piece is moving to a square, you will see this written as *piece**square*, or for example Bishop to c4, Bc4.

When a piece is moving to a square that a similar piece can move to, such as a knight moving to a square that another knight can move to, you’ll see the moving knight specified with the letter of the square it is moving from to the square it is moving to.

For example, if a knight in the b column is moving to the c3 square (such as a knight on b1), while a knight in the e column can also move to that square (such as a knight on on the square e2), the appropriate algebraic notation would be Nbc3. When read, this says the knight on the b square is moving to c3. If this happens as White on turn 4, the algebraic notation would be 4. Nbc3.

When a pawn takes a piece, you’ll see this written as something like cxd4, indicating that the pawn on c3 took the piece on d4.

We use lowercase letters for pawns, and uppercase for pieces. Otherwise, it would get confusing to label bishops and b-pawns.

    How To Use Your Chess Cheat Sheet

    We have designed these cheat sheets to be used in several ways.

    The first is for studying different openings. The visual illustrations and chess notation allows for easy memorisation.

    The second is to help you decide which openings you want to learn and which you want to practice. The first page of every guide after the title page gives a short description of the opening along with pros and cons of that opening. If an opening seems appealing, you can then study/practice it.

    The third way is to be used while playing the opening of each game to help you practice and learn that opening. Each chess cheat sheet has been designed in A4 (the paper size, not the chess square!) with print in mind. At the same time, they are also used easily on your phone or in another tab for if you’re playing online.

    As you are playing, you can refer to the guide to determine the best move to respond to your opponent’s move. For example, if you’re White and open with e4, Black may respond with c5, the Sicillian. From here, as White you get to choose how to respond and which variation of the Sicilian you want to play. Maybe if you’re learning, option for a move like 2. Nf3 is a good choice since that appears on turn 2 of 4 different variations. For example, in the Open Sicilian, these moves in algebraic notation are 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3.

    Once you know the variation your opponent is playing (either by studying or by looking at the live tracker on the digital platform you’re playing on), you can go to that page in the guide and follow the moves to continue playing that opening.

    Chess Novelty

    Finally, it’s worth pointing out what a chess novelty is. A chess novelty is where a new move or idea is added to an opening that was previously unknown to chess theory. Or, more simply, when the first move outside of an opening is played, or when someone breaks the opening sequence for another move. When you reach this point, the guides can no longer be followed for that game. You’re on your own now!

    Final Thoughts

    That should be everything you need to get started and make good use of our chess cheat sheets. We hope you find them useful and wish you the best of luck with climbing the ladder!