When notating a single move by black, or a sequence of moves that starts with a move by black, an ellipsis is generally used. There is no one universally accepted convention as to its appearance though. For instance, one might write 2. ... Nc6 or instead prefer 2... Nc6. Both are in use: an instance of the former at wikibooks, an instance of the latter at wikipedia. I happen to prefer the former, but the purpose of this post is to propose:

Either convention is perfectly acceptable, and we need not seek uniformity across all posts in this regard.

If a poster prefers one over the other, I think there is no reason to change it in either direction. Thoughts?

(What brought this topic to mind is that my recent question was edited to switch from the first convention to the second, and I decided to roll back that edit, because I prefer the way the first convention looks.)

  • I prefer 1... Nf6 for concision. (And might have also seem 2. .. Nc6 in some books.) At last, I recommend the meta practice of posting questions and answers as separate posts, for clarity, e.g. I think the matter is important, but I disagree with your proposition. I'd like to upvote your question, and downvote your answer, but can't : as is, I'm constrained to post arm-long comments (not that I don't enjoy it, mind you). Nov 30, 2012 at 17:12

2 Answers 2


This distinction between styles doesn't appear to cause any confusion for readers, nor does one style provide any real benefit in readability over the other. Since they're both acceptable in the wild and any choice we would make between them would be purely for uniformity without functional benefit I think I have to agree with you, Ed. We should probably just leave these alone.

(BTW, I prefer #2 :) )


Being the one who perpetrated the edit in question, I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents.

I agree with you, Ed, though my position is slightly closer to James', since I also happen to prefer #2. I posted my opinion in chat, and I'll put it here too:

I personally like the following: e4 (for a white move w/o numbering); 1. e4 (white, with numbering); ...e5 (black, w/o number); and finally 1... e5 (black, with number). That system just seems more concise to me. Nothing to quibble over.


But I call the whole thing tomato/tomato. Same as white/White and black/Black.

I've decided that it will be good to keep this formatting consistently in use, and to keep an individual post consistent within itself, but I won't edit to change 2. ... Nc6 to 2... Nc6 or "black" to "Black" or "bishop" to "Bishop", or vice versa.

What I'm still not sure about is 1.e4 or 1. e4 - should I edit in the space, or should I add that to the list of personal preference? (You can comment with your opinion.)

  • The space looks nicer, but can be felt to take a lot of space. I'd insert it in an altogether poorly formated post, and leave it to the author if there's a chance he didn't put it out of personnal preference. Join us at typography.SE for more fun ! Nov 30, 2012 at 17:07

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