The Colonel's Guide to Smythescript

In response to the overwhelming demand for information about Smythescript, here is a copy of my article in Chess Chow. The editor has not authorized me to publish it, but then I didn't authorize him to copy it off in the first place, much less to characterize Smythescript as a truly sadistic way to keep score.

So here once again, for those of you who are fed up with the ambiguity and dryness of algebraic notation, is a summary of Smythescript:

  1. A move consists of any or all of these in sequence:
  2. Use disambiguators only when necessary.
  3. Write each move as briefly as you can without violating rule 2.
  4. Neither a direction nor a distance may be used without a man specifier.
  5. A castling specifier must stand alone.
  6. Pieces are specified as 0 for a king, 8 for a queen, 5 for a rook, 3 for a bishop, and 7 for a knight. The digits are intended as crude representations of the conventional symbols.
  7. Pawns are specified by the files on which they stand: from queen's rook to king's rook, T, U, N, A, F, I, S, H.
  8. A player's men with the same specifier may be disambiguated by appending one or more Xs: one X for the first such man on the board, two for the second, and so on, where the men are numbered as they are encountered in a scan of the board from Black's queen's rook square to his king's rook square, then from Black's queen's rook's second square to his king's rook's second square, and so on to White's king's rook's square.
  9. A direction for any piece but a Knight is any of the following: C for diagonally towards Black's queenside, H for vertically towards Black, E for diagonally towards Black's kingside, L for horizontally towards the kingside, P for horizontally towards the queenside, A for diagonally towards White's queenside, T for vertically toward White, Z for diagonally toward White's kingside. A direction for a Knight is any of the following: T for one square towards Black and two towards the queenside, U for two squares towards Black and one towards the queenside, N for two squares towards Black and one towards the kingside, A for one square towards Black and two towards the kingside, F for one square towards White and two towards the queenside, I for two squares towards White and one towards the queenside, S for two squares towards White and one towards the kingside, and H for one square towards White and two towards the kingside.

  10. A direction for a pawn is: for one square forwards if the pawn can move two.
  11. A castling specifier is 4 for castling short or 6 for castling long.
  12. A distance is a number from 1 to 7.
  13. A capture specifier is any of the following: D for a capture en passant; J for a recapture; K for any other kind of capture; a file specifier for a capture, not en passant or a recapture, for a pawn that has another capture.
  14. A promotion specifier is a piece symbol.
  15. A check specifier is W, for check or checkmate.
  16. 30 denotes loss by mate, resignation or forfeiture. 15 denotes a draw.
The preference rules for equally long representations need not concern us now. In case you feel you're not ready to tackle the Fischer—Spassky games yet, here's an easy one to start with.

Alekhine's Defense. Eberlein—Seidman, New York State Championship, Syracuse 1971. 1. F 7XXI 2. F 7F 3. A A 4. 7XXU S− 5. N 7T 6. K NJ 7. 7XXN 3XX1 8. H− 4 9. 3E2 7XS 10. 8H1 F 11. 6 FK 12. 7J A 13. NK 7J 14. 7UK J 15. 7K NJ 16. J 8W 17. 8P 8C 18. 8P1 3Z3 19. 83K 5L 20. U− 53W 21. 33 KW 22. J 3X4 23. 30

Send questions about Smythescript to its inventor, Bill Smythe, not to me!

Historical background.

A tunafish is a fish who habitually slaughters national masters at five-minute chess. A chelpatz is the inverse phenomenon: a national master who habitually loses to patzers at five-minute chess. Readers in the Chicago area may be able to identify the master in question.
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