The Creator of Algebraic Chess Notation

The Creator of Algebraic Chess Notation‎

GM Julio_Becerra
36 | Chess Players

Philipp Stamma (c. 1705-1755), was born in Aleppo, Syria, but moved to Europe (France and Italy) and established himself in England after 1737.

Stamma was a chess master and pioneer of modern chess, but his reputation rests principally on his authorship of the early chess book Essai sur le Jeu des Echecs published in France in 1737 (later an improved edition was published in England in 1745 under the name The Noble Game of Chess). Stamma’s book introduced algebraic chess notation! The main difference between Stamma’s system and the modern system is that Stamma used “p” for pawn moves and the original file of the piece (“a” through “h”) instead of the initial letter of the piece. The algebraic system is now a standard form of Chess notation replacing the older descriptive Chess notation.

Stamma was defeated by Philidor in a famous match in 1747; which marked the beginning of Philidor's rise to fame. Game scores of the match don't seem to exist. Philidor’s writings had more influence after his victory over Stamma, and therefore the descriptive system based on Philidor’s approach was dominant for a long time!

I found many wonderful positions in Stamma’s book and I believe he was a portentous mind to create such delicious compositions around 300 hundred years ago! I just want to recommend the study of Stamma’s book and I am pretty sure that my dear readers will enjoy it.

For this issue I have selected five positions among a large list of marvelous positions. My assessment: what imagination!

Stamma died in London in 1755.

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