Japanese Shogi Notation

First off, this seems like a good place to mention the kanji for shogi. If you go looking up shogi in a japanese dictionary, remember that in Japanese, the pronunciation is actually “shougi” not “shogi”. Shogi has been in English long enough that the “u” was dropped from the name.

Shogi Kanji

Now for the Japanese notation.

Don’t let it scare you, but Japanese use kanji. This puts off westerners who get really scared by all those lines. (I wonder, is there a phobia name for this?) Notation for Japanese shogi game records is very similar to western game notations.

First remember Japanese write two directions. Sometimes they write like in English, that would be from left to right and from top to bottom. Traditionally they write like Chinese, that would be from top to bottom and from right to left. Shogi game records usually are in the traditional top to bottom and from right to left.

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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: Read more