Shogi Game Notation … Western Style

It can be hard to remember how to record a game of shogi. I’ve created a quick cheat sheet below to make life easier.

The starting player is called “Black”, and the other player is called “White” when playing in English. Black is sometimes called “Sente” and White is sometimes called “Gote”. Don’t let Sente and Gote confuse you. They’re as different as black and white. (No I couldn’t resist.)

The top of the game record should state important information about the game such as who was Black and who played White. It should also state the date, the players’ rankings, if any, and also what handicap was used. For example:

Black: Esther

White: Terrance

Handicap: White gives Rook and Bishop

Date: 2 January 2007

Notation Symbols and Order

Shogi pieces are always indicated with capital letters. The letters used to represent the shogi pieces are:

K – King

G – Gold General

S – Silver General

N – Knight

L – Lance

B – Bishop

R – Rook

P – Pawn

+S – Promoted Silver General

+N – Promoted Knight

+L – Promoted Lance

+B – Promoted Bishop

+R – Promoted Rook

+P – Promoted Pawn

Shogi moves are noted:

(+ or nothing)(Name)(From)(- or x or *)(To)(+ or = or nothing)

+ means promotion. When + is before the piece name, the piece was previously promoted. When + is after the move, then the move results in the promotion of the piece.

means a move without a drop or capture occurring.

x means a move that captures a piece.

* means the piece was dropped into the final location.

= means a move could have resulted in a promotion, but the promotion was declined.

Listing the Moves

In Shogi, the moves can be numbered individually or in pairs. Some documents will list game moves singly like:

1. P-7f  2. P-8d  3. G-7h  4. P-8e

Other documents will list them in pairs such as:

1. P-7f   P-8d

2. G-7h   P-8e

Brevity is king. You may choose to remove any unnecessary symbols from a move’s notation. The from location is removed from the notation if the resulting notation is not ambiguous. The dashes above are not necessary, so we can write the moves without the dashes such as:

1. P7f  2. P8d  3. G7h  4. P8e

* and x are often removed too, if the result is not ambigous. Typically + and = are not removed from the notation.

Locating Pieces

If you where to look at a diagram showing all of the pieces of White ( w ) and Black ( b ) with the appropriate numbers and letters labeled on the board, this is where all the pieces start out.

         9    8    7    6    5    4    3    2    1
      ----------------------------------------------
      | Lw | Nw | Sw | Gw | Kw | Gw | Sw | Nw | Lw | a
      ----------------------------------------------
      |    | Rw |    |    |    |    |    | Bw |    | b
      ----------------------------------------------
      | Pw | Pw | Pw | Pw | Pw | Pw | Pw | Pw | Pw | c
      ----------------------------------------------
      |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    | d
      ----------------------------------------------
      |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    | e
      ----------------------------------------------
      |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    | f
      ----------------------------------------------
      | Pb | Pb | Pb | Pb | Pb | Pb | Pb | Pb | Pb | g
      ----------------------------------------------
      |    | Bb |    |    |    |    |    | Rb |    | h
      ----------------------------------------------
      | Lb | Nb | Sb | Gb | Kb | Gb | Sb | Nb | Lb | i
      ----------------------------------------------

Handicaps

In handicap games, the first Black move is to allow White to remove some pieces from the board. An ellipsis () is placed in the position of Black’s first move, and White proceeds to make an actual move. Essentially, White moves twice to start a handicap game. (NOTE: The removed pieces are out of the game entirely.)

Winning

The move after the last move of the game is typically filled with some indication of how the game ended. “resigns”, “drawn”, “1-0”, “0-1” or something similar will be written in the position after the last move.

Putting It All Together

Here is a sample game, just to give you an idea of how this all goes together. There are quite a few typos in this, but I think it gives the general idea of layout.

Black: Esther

White: Terrance

Handicap: White gives Rook and Bishop

Date: 2 January 2007


1.  ...    S-8b

2.  G-4h   G-6b

3.  G-6h   G-4b

4.  P-8f   P-9d

5.  P-8f   P-9d

6.  P-7e   P-9e

7.  P-6f   P-8d

8.  P-3f   S-8g

9.  N-7g   P-7f

10.  Px7d   Sx7d

11.  P-6e   P*7g+

12.  K-4i   Px7g+

13.  Bx7g   Sx6e

14.  B-5e   P*7c

15.  G-5h   N*8g

16.  S-6h   Nx9i+

17.  G-5i  +N-9h

18.  B-3g  +Nx9g

19.  P-2f   P-9f

20.  P-2e  +N-8g

21.  R-2f   P-9g+

22.  P-3e  +P-9f

23.  R-4f  +Px8f

24.  R-4e   S-5d

25.  R-7e   P*9f

26.  R-7i   P-9g+

27.  P-5f  +P-8h

28.  R-7e   L*7d

29.  R-5e   Sx5e

30.  Bx5e   R*9e

31.  B-6f   P-7e

32.  S*8b   P-7h

33.  B-5g   P-7h

34.  Sx9a+  Rx9a

35.  L*9c   P*9b

36.  N-3g   Px9c

37.  P-3d   Px3d

38.  B-4f  +Px6h

39.  Gx6h  +P-7g

40.  G-6i   N-3c

41.  P*7e   Lx7e

42.  P*7d  +P-7h

43.  Px7c+  Nx7c

44.  P*7d  +Px6i

45.  Px7c+  G*5i

46.  K-3h   L*3e

47.  K-2i   R-7a

48. +P-7b   R-7d

49.  S*8c   R-6d

50.  N*5e   Nx4e

51.  Nx6c+  Rx6c

52.  P-7b   R-5b

53. +P-7c   R-6g+

54. +P-6b   Gx6b

55.  B-8b+  K-4a

56. +Bx9c   G-5b

57. +Bx7e   G-8f

58.  S-7b   N-2g

59.  S-6a   Nx3i+

60.  K-1h   S*2i

61.  K-2g   G-5a

62. +B-7d   k-3a

63.  P*8g   R-7h

64.  Px8f   Rx7d

65.  N*8i   B*3f

66.  K-1f   P-1d

67.  L*1e   Px1e

68.  K-2f   Px8f

69.  P*3g  +R-7h

70.  Px3f  +Rx4h

71.  B*9a   S*3g

72.  B*3g+ +Rx3g

73.  resigns

 


Japanese Notation for Shogi … after learning western shogi notation, you will eventually want to know how to read Japanese games. Here is the notation for Japanese game records for Shogi.