Shogi Game Notation

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.


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