Chess notation symbols

Often when reading chess books, using online chess resources, or analyzing games with chess software, you will encounter symbols in the notation analysis that will seem cryptic and hard to understand. You may not find these in every notation analysis, but sometimes they will show up.

The list below should help you decipher what the symbols mean and help you better understand the chess analysis.

?? Blunder: indicates a very bad move
? Mistake
?! Dubious move: doubtful that this move offers anything positive
!? Interesting move: unexpected yet promising move
! Good move
!! Brilliance: only used when a move has particular theoretical
= Even position for both sides
+/= Slight advantage for White
=/+ Slight advantage for Black
+/- Clear advantage for White
-/+ Clear advantage for Black
+- Winning advantage for White
-+ Winning advantage for Black
Unclear which side has the advantage
=/ With compensation; a loss in material, space, or tempo is paired with a gain in another aspect
Gives a space advantage
Seizes the initiative
↑↑ Development of pieces or position
With the attack of…
With counterplay
Countering the sequence…
With the idea of…
Zeitnot: move was made under time trouble
Zugswang: move was forced
Only available move
A better move is…
A weaker move is…
A stronger way to do the same move is…

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