Introduction to Kifu(棋譜) Notation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 一 二 三 四 五 六 七 八 九

The Shogi board is made up of 9 by 9 squares where Shogi pieces will be placed on each square. The board space is bigger than Chess board, which is 8 by 8.

A coordination system is used to indicate the address of the board, just as Chess uses the coordination of numbers and letters. In case of Shogi, the coordination system consists of two numbers. One is in Arabic numbers and the other is in Chinese letter. Arabic numbers should be no brainer. But how about recognizing Chinese letters? Chinese letters are pictorials, or at least the origins were pictorials. So, 1,2,3 are quite easy. They are 一,二 and 三 respectively.
Unfortunately for the rest of the numbers, you need to memorize them. They are 四(4)  五(5) 六 (6) 七 (7)  八(8) and 九 (9). By the way, those letters are taught to the first graders in Japanese school. I think I was told once that in China, they teach those letters while kids are in pre-school, but I have not validated that claim.


In the Shogi board, upper right square is 1一 and lower left square is 9九. The Center of the board is 5五.  See the diagram above.

Now See this diagram. If we use pseudo Kurnik notation, then the move that is indicated in this diagram at the very beginning of the game can be written as "歩7七-7六". Instead what we see in Japanese Kifu is "7六歩". This Shogi notation simply tells that the pawn(歩) is at 7六.
What is inconspicuously missing from this notation (from Kurnik players' eyes) is the information of where this pawn came from.
In Japanese Kifu notation, the origin of the piece is implied. In this case, the only pawn that can be moved to 7六 is the one at 7七 (by the rule of Shogi play) Therefore there is no need to explicitly record this information.

先手 ▲7六歩

"打”  (Drop)

In this diagram, the drop of the gold general will checkmate the king. Since there is already a gold at 2三、 "3二金" does not imply that you are dropping the king. Rather, it will imply that the gold at 2三 will move to 3二. Since this is not what we want to do, the notation must be more explicit, so the correct notation for checkmating the King will be "3二金打ち" the last two characters literally means "Strike" but you can paraphrase it with the word "drop"  Note that if the piece at 2三 would have been a Silver general, then the notation "3二金" is suffice, because only way for the gold general to be at 3二 is by a drop.


Look at the diagram here. There is another ambiguity when a notation says "5七銀." Since there are three Silvers that can go to that spot、the notation need to be more explicit. For the sake of explanation, let me use pseudo Western notations and corresponding Kifu notations for each piece's move to 5七


5七銀左 =s6八-5七

The letter 左 means "Left." The silver moved from the left.

5七銀直  =s5八-5七

The letter 直 means " Straight" The silver moved straight (up).5七銀右  =s4八-5七


The letter 右 means "Right." The silver moved rom the right .

Likewise, There are three gold that can go to a position  7七

The letter 寄 means "go to the side", If there would have been another Gold at 8七、Then this move would have been written as 7七金右寄, signifying that the gold moved from the right side.
7七金直 =G七八-7七 

We already saw this. the Gold moved straight up.
7七金引 =G7六-7七

The letter "引"means "pull (back)" The gold moved one step back to the position.


"行、上がる" (go, or rise)

These two words are used interchangeably.

The letter "行" means go and "上" means "to rise"

These two letters are used interchangeably in Shogi notation.

in the diagram here,

"5五角行く" or "5五角上がる" = B9九-5五

"5五飛行く" or "5五飛上がる" = R5九-5五

Paring letters are "引"、and "下"





"成り、不成り" (Promoting or not promoting)
whether the piece will be promoted or not is always explicit, since the player has a choice. So, every move where the piece is promotable, the notation is suffixed with either 成り(promote) or 不成り(not promote)


You will see this letter a lot, in a sequence like this "2四歩、同歩、同銀、同銀、同角、同角、同飛"  the letter's literal meaning is "same" It simply means the move was played on the same spot as the previous move. It always involves capturing of a piece. See the diagrams below for the above sequence.

For the clarity, each move can be prefixed with symbols to notate Sente 先手 (White in Chess) and Gote 後手(Black in Chess.)  Unfortunately, Japanese notation historically uses white rectangle (△) to indicate Gote's move and black rectangle(▲) to notate Sente's move.  Therefore, in Shogi, Black moves first, not White.

投了most of the kifu notation ends with this word. This word "Touryou" means "resign"
Exceptions are "千日手"(repetition of moves) and "待将棋" (draw).
Compared to Chess games, Draws are almost non-existent so most of the time you will see the word 投了at the end.

Ok, Now let's see how much you can follow those notations. The game in the board below contains many of those explicit notations.



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This page last updated : 4 years, 8 months ago