# Stamma's Chess Notation

• qixel
• | Nov 23, 2010 at 8:23 PM
• | Posted in: Amy's Blog

Below is an example of Stamma's notation.  It is taken from the 1745 English edition of his influential book The Noble Game of Chess (originally published in French as Essai sur le jeu des echecs).

His system is similar to our own algebraic notation and, in general, should look familiar to modern chess players.  "White" and "Black" are each subdivided into three columns.  The last two columns indicate a move's destination square and correspond directly to our own e4, c6, f8, etc.

Piece designations, however, are different from modern usage and are based on starting squares.  Thus, "a" indicates the queen's rook, since it begins on the a-file; "b" indicates the queen's knight, and so forth. ("P" designates a pawn.)

Stamma's system is language independent (although obviously not alphabet independent), and therefore is a precursor of today's figurine-algebraic notation.  His notation does have a drawback, however.  During the course of a game, a player may lose track of pieces and may not know if the piece being moved is, for example, the b-knight or the g-knight.

Can you figure out what the cross and the asterisk stand for?

• 3 years ago

As always Amy, a pleasure to read your blog. Keep up the fine work!

• 3 years ago

@Aliyat-EJ

Right, you got the general idea.  The asterisk clears up possible confusing or ambiguous moves.  The asterisk can appear to the right or to the left of a move.  For example, an asterisk to the left of the word "Castle" indicates queenside castling; to the right, kingside. The move * a f 1 means that the left rook moves to f1.  For the same pieces on the same file, an asterisk on the left means the piece nearer to white; an asterisk on the right means the piece farther from white.

• 3 years ago

The asterisk appears to mark moves in which two like pieces can move to the same square. How it's determined which one gets the asterisk I don't know. Perhaps whichever piece it is that moves is the one that gets the asterisk for the rest of the game. The other option is that the piece on the player's left is the one that gets the asterisk, which would be useful for notating castling when the only pieces on the back rank are the two rooks and the king.

- EJ

• 3 years ago

@Crazychessplaya

Correct about the cross.  It stands for "check".

The asterisk does not indicate a footnote, however.  It is considerably more difficult to decipher.

Here's another bit of notation as a hint to the meaning of the asterisk:

• 3 years ago

The cross should stand for "check." The asterisk could be an equivalent of a superscript to a footnote.

• 3 years ago

Thank you for this historical document.