How to memorize a FEN String?

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#1 2 August, 2014 - 20:00
Joined: 3 years 4 months ago

How to memorize a FEN String?

Hi all, I would like to know if someone in this site (chess player, memory sportsman, you, etc...) is able to find a way to memorize this, maybe with mnemonic (i think it's obvious) or reducing the information.

The reason why I'm doing this is because I want to know how would some people do this (honestly I don't know how to memorize this)

Forsyth–Edwards Notation (FEN) is a standard notation for describing a particular board position of a chess game. The purpose of FEN is to provide all the necessary information to restart a game from a particular position.

Here are some examples:





If you need more examples, comment down below.


1-Don't convert the letters to numbers because that affects the notation.
2-Please don't convert the pieces into other images (pawn=war veteran)

3 August, 2014 - 03:58
Joined: 3 years 11 months ago

I think you're missing a couple things, castling, en passant, and#of moves till 50. Ie; 3r3k/5Qpp/q4b2/pR6/Pp2b1P1/1Pp1PP2/7P/4N1K1 b - - 1 40

There have been some threads on memorizing chess positions if you use the search box.

Fyi for others: numbers are empty spaces, slashes indicate next row, capital letters mean either white or black..

This is pretty hard, I'll be back

3 August, 2014 - 07:15
Joined: 3 years 4 months ago

Yes, I know that I skipped castling, # of moves etc...

I have also searched some threads but they talk about memorizing moves, openings.
Some talk about positions, but using a system like PAO or any similar.
I also found some that talk about FEN, but they only mention it.

3 August, 2014 - 07:27
Joined: 3 years 4 months ago

I have 2 ideas on what to do With a String.

1- If the string ends with one or more /8 ("/8" indicates an empty line) we can eliminate them:

example 2: 7K/8/k1P5/7p/8/8/8/8 would become: 7K/8/k1P5/7p

2- If there are many /8 in a streak between the String, we can count the number of /8s and use that number:

example 3: 6k1/8/8/8/8/2P5/8/3K4 would become: 6k1/4/2P5/1/3K4

(this is OK because we didn't "touch" the pieces and instead of memorizing /8/8/8/8/, we can see that there are 4 /8 in a streak, so we replace the /8/8/8/8/ with /4/.)

3 August, 2014 - 10:15
Joined: 3 years 11 months ago

1. Yep. We can also eliminate either the slashes, or the numbers right before them ie: 3r3k/5Qpp/q4b2/pR6/Pp2b1P1/1Pp1PP2/7P/4N1K1 becomes 3r3k5Qppq4b2pR6Pp2b1P11Pp1PP27P4N1K1 or 3r3k/5Qpp/q4b/pR/Pp2b1P/1Pp1PP/7P/4N1K. Harder to read, but easier to memorize.

2. I would just think up of 6-7 different images to represent the number of lines with only /8 in them, just so I wouldn't get confused.

chiguin wrote:
The purpose of FEN is to provide all the necessary information to restart a game from a particular position

To do so, you at least need to know whose move it is, w/b..

What types of positions do you wish to memorize? Endgames? Openings? Those usually aren't as complicated as my example, which is middlegame...

One possibility is to create an image for every two symbol combination: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-p-r-n-b-k-q-P-R-N-B-K-Q which makes 20x20=400 images... A bit too many.. Or just have one image for every single symbol, just 20 images but it takes ~10 to ~30 combinations. Pawn images would repeat a lot

Another possibility is look at the position, memorize where the pieces other than the pawns are, and have prepared maybe 20-30 images for common pawn structures, ie: fianchettoed, isolated, doubled, caro, slav, dragon, stonewall, etc.

Another; If it's opening(or early middlegame) for the first two(and last two) rows you could just memorize the places where the natural pieces are missing(plus two images for castling either side), so rnbqkbnr/pp1ppppp/8/2p5/4P3/5N2/PPPP1PPP/RNBQKB1R would just be O/3/8/2p5/4P3/5N2/5/7

I'll keep thinking...


4 August, 2014 - 13:20
Joined: 3 years 4 months ago

Oh, yes, we can eliminate the remaining number of space, /4rq2 would become /4rq.

About what kind of position, maybe middle game.

In those positions where there are like 10 pieces or less in both sides, we can convert pieces to images (without FEN).
For example: white king on a1, white pawn a2.
black pawn on a7, black king on a8

This could be memorized like
611 112 000 117 618 (000 indicates a color change, i used to memorize white first and black later)

That's the system i used to use, but now i prefer FEN because i think it's better. ;)

10 August, 2014 - 13:42
Joined: 3 years 4 months ago

An idea I recently had was, after making the reduction, using your example:


We can see that it begins with a space, so we can separate those numbers and memorize them, it would look like this:


Then comes black, translating the pieces:


(0's indicate where a white belongs)

And now, we know the # of spaces, we know where black and white are, and we apply the same technique for white pieces, without slashes:


10 August, 2014 - 14:04
Joined: 3 years 11 months ago

Yea, but then we have to memorize 3 strings of numbers, 2 of which have slashes...

11 August, 2014 - 19:44
Joined: 3 years 4 months ago

yes, i know, but it's useful, because every slash gives you the information of a row on the chessboard.

A good way to memorize the info is to memorize the slash1 of the spaces and then the slash 1 of the pieces, and finally the remaining pieces (in this case, White)

The same method is applied when the FEN string begins with a piece, you memorize the pieces of the first color, then the spaces, and then the remaining pieces.

11 August, 2014 - 21:30
Joined: 3 years 3 months ago

This is very technical; I just saw what you wrote as an example. I hope you will find a way to memorize this.

12 August, 2014 - 06:57
Joined: 3 years 11 months ago

What I mean chiguin is now we have to memorize 58 characters as opposed to 38(including slashes) for that one example.

Other than either eliminating slashes or numbers before slashes(which eliminates a few characters), I think my idea of just memorizing the places where natural pieces are missing is the most efficient. You'll just need a couple images to distinguish the numbers 1-8 that indicate all 8 spaces are empty, and numbers that indicate the natural piece is missing from that place.

I would also recommend you creating images for common changes to the first two and last two rows; ie fianchettoed bishop on either side, castling either side, rook moved to kingsquare, rook moved to queensquare.

chiguin wrote:
In those positions where there are like 10 pieces or less in both sides, we can convert pieces to images (without FEN).
For example: white king on a1, white pawn a2.
black pawn on a7, black king on a8

This could be memorized like
611 112 000 117 618 (000 indicates a color change, i used to memorize white first and black later)

For endgame, you can just memorize pieces without FEN. Or with FEN, the string would be pretty short and have plenty of 8's.

No way to really reduce the amount of information there is in a chessboard...


EDIT: I suppose 58 numbers(+slashes) might be easier than 38 characters.. You could think up of 20 images to represent /0 /1 /2.... and 0/ 1/ 2/.... then you just memorize those 58 like a normal number string, 3 objects per locus, or PAO... Which means you only need 29 images(58/2) because you memorize 2 digits at the same time.

ReEDIT: The problem(unless you somehow figure this out from the other number strings) with making(well, you missed the last 1 from my example, so it adds up to 7) /Pp2b1P/ into /21/ is you don't know where the pieces are. They could be in front of the 2 or they could not be.

14 August, 2014 - 14:51
Joined: 3 years 4 months ago

I read your ReEDIT and I think that that problem can be fixed with... Binaries
Using your example (once reduced, eliminating slashes, 0= spaces, 1= any piece)

3r3k/5Qpp/q4b/pR/Pp2b1P/1Pp1PP/7P/4N1K would become:

And other binary string to know if those pieces are White or black: (1= White, 0=black)

And now we memorize the # of spaces, and the pieces (honestly this order doesn't matter at all):
(Legend for pieces, 1=pawn, 2=knight, 3=bishop, 4=rook, 5=queen, 6=king

spaces: 33542111741
black: 4611531131
White: 541111111126

ANOTHER TECHNIQUE (if you don't want to memorize the 2nd binary string):

1-memorize the 1st binary string.
2-memorize the # of spaces.
3-memorize any piece color (while keeping track of the other color)
example: (in this example I "memorized" black pieces, and kept track of where White is)

(0's indicate where a white belongs)

4-memorize the remaining color.


1-Using the 1st method (in this comment) we have 51 binaries+33 decimals
2-With the other technique we have 31 binaries+45 decimals (I prefer the 1st one, less decimals)
3-I have to admit that I made a mistake with the technique in my last 2 comments.

18 August, 2014 - 22:12
Joined: 3 years 4 months ago

Probably, the best method is eliminating the slashes and convert every 2 characters into a 3 digits image, we can reduce ONLY the 8/'s so we can have all the necesary info.

The 3 digits when the space goes first can be used like this:

1st digit: spaces
2nd digit: White
3rd digit: Black

When it begins with a piece followed by a space is:

1st digit: 8/9 (for white/for black)
2nd digit: piece
3rd digit: space

example: p3 is 913, but P3 is 813

So, let's memorize the 2nd example posted on the 1st comment:


7K/ is 760
8/ is 800
k1 is 961
P5/ is 815
7p/ is 701

The remaining 8/s can be eliminated in this case. But if they were in the middle or beggining of the string, they would be memorized as 88# (88 imdicates a repeated sequence of 8/s and # the number of repetitions)

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