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Philip Stamma
Number of games in database: 6
Years covered: 1737
Overall record: +6 -0 =0 (100.0%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games.

Most played openings
C50 Giuoco Piano (6 games)

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(born 1705, died 1755, 50 years old) Syria

[what is this?]
Phillip Stamma was born in Aleppo, Syria. His first name can also be found spelled Philippe, Philippo or Filipo. His Arabic name was Fathallah, son of Safar, of the Shtamma clan. His family had Syrian Orthodox origins, but also ties to the Catholic church. He was a chess player and interpreter of oriental languages. After leaving the Ottoman Empire, he spent some time in Italy, before arriving in France. He then moved to London some time between 1737 and 1739. He was appointed interpreter of oriental languages on 9 July 1739. Together with his wife Ester, he had two sons: William, who was baptized on 11 August 1747, and Lewis. He died in 1755 in London, possibly in July.(1)

Stamma published his book Essai sur le jeu des échecs in France in 1737. An improved English transsation, The Noble Game of Chess, was published in England in 1745. His book is famous for introducing the concept of "end game," and the Algebraic notation. His books were translated into several languages during the 18th and 19th centuries.(1)

He was considered to be one of the World's best Chessplayers. In 1747, Stamma lost a match against François André Philidor with +1 =1 -8 despite having the advantage of the first move in all games (and all draws counted as a win for Stamma so the official score is 2-8). Game scores of the match do not appear to exist.

(1) John-Paul Ghobrial, ‘Stamma, Phillip (d. 1755)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, May 2015,

 page 1 of 1; 6 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. NN vs Philip Stamma 0-1171737CompositionC50 Giuoco Piano
2. NN vs Philip Stamma 0-1171737CompositionC50 Giuoco Piano
3. NN vs Philip Stamma 0-1131737CompositionC50 Giuoco Piano
4. NN vs Philip Stamma 0-1171737CompositionC50 Giuoco Piano
5. NN vs Philip Stamma 0-1171737CompositionC50 Giuoco Piano
6. NN vs Philip Stamma 0-1141737CompositionC50 Giuoco Piano
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Philip Stamma wins | Philip Stamma loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-10-08  Karpova: "Stamma on the game of chess" from 1819:

The six "games" in the database are the first game Stamma gives with five additional variations), page 1 to 14.

Oct-25-10  Elsinore: It's a shame that no real games exist for a man regarded as one of the worlds strongest. Those Stamma/Philidor games would have been fun to look at.
Jun-26-11  bartonlaos: The reason the older Chess books are written in descriptive notation is blamed on his lost to Philidor. Stamma had invented almost-modern algebraic notation, which I'll post shortly. But after the loss his influence in Chess circles dropped and Philidor's increased. It was Philidor's idea to use descriptive notation.
Jun-26-11  bartonlaos: <Phillip Stamma 1745 - The Noble Game of Chess>

"I have chosen to give the Directions for playing the Moves in a Kind of Short-hand, rather than in Words at length this leaves less Room for Mistakes...the Letters stand for the 8 Pieces, viz. "A" stands for the Queen's Rook, B for her Knight, C for her Bishop, and so on in Order as far as H, which stands for the King's Rook. P stands for Pawn.

"The Arithmetical Figures, with the Letters immediately preceding them, point out the Squares you are to play into. Thus P-E4 directs you to play the King's Pawn into the King's fourth Square; G-F3 to play the King's Knight into his Bishop's third Square; and F-C4 to play the King's Bishop ito the Queen Bishop's fourth Square. And in playing the Black, P-E5 directs you to push the King's Pawn two Steps, B-C6 to play the Queen's Knight into the Queen's Bishop's sixth Square, and F C5 to play the King's Bishop into the Queen's Bishop's fifth Square. These are the First three Moves on each side, as they are directed to be played inthe first Game. The Cross + directs you to give Check, thus, D-H5+ directs you to give Check with your Queen in the King's Rook's fifth Square.

"The common Method in this Country, is to begin the game by pushing the King's Pwn two steps; both for him that plays first, as likewise for his Antagonist. After which he brings out his King's Knight to the King's bishop's third square; this is what is called by me, 'The Knight's-Close Game'."


P-E4 P-E5
G-F3 B-C6
F-C4 F-C5
P-D3 P-D6
G-G5 D-F6
F-F7+ E-F8
F-G8 P-G5
F-D5 B-D4
P-C3 D-H6
P-H3 C-H3
P-D4 C-G2
E-G2 D-H3+ >

Beautiful isn't it? Here's a puzzle from him:


Situation of the Black: AC8. BF7. CA8. DE3. ED8. FC7. HE8. PAWNS: C5. D6. E7. F5. G3. H4.

Situation of the White: AA6. BA4. D36. EF1. FD1. GB3. PAWNS: D4. E5. F4. G2. H3.

The Play - White to Move and win in 7 moves:
D-D7+ E-D7
B-C5+ P-C5
G-C5+ E-D8
G-E6+ E-D7
F-A4+ C-C6
F-C6+ E-E6
P-D5+ mate>

It's amazing to me to see how close Philip Stamma was to modern notation. His brilliant idea was almost rediscovered a hundred years later. A player named Pearson had thought that children shouldn't have to spend so much mental energy to decipher descriptive notation, rather they should quickly glance at a page and follow the game. But in a comedy of errors, he completely botched the presentation, and helped to drive yet another century's worth of support for descriptive notation. I'm going to post Pearson's attempt just for comparison.

Jun-26-11  bartonlaos: <Pearson 1842 - Chess exemplified in a concise and easy notation>

Pearson wrote: "Notation, to meet the rapidity of thought, must unite brevity and precision. it must present the end at once with the true idea, and no other. It must not require time to analyse it...By the method explained in the following introduction, every square on the board is denoted most precisely by its peculiar syllable of two letters a manner so clear as to be intelligible at sight throughout a game; which whether written or printed, according to this method, is exhibited in less space than by any other..."

< Naming of files -
b orders
d ancer's
t eacher's
f avourite's
l oyalist's
s age's
p rancer's
k eeper's

C = Queen's Rook
N = Queen's Knight
V = Queen's Bishop
Q = Queen
M = King
X = King's Bishop
H = King's Knight
R = King's Rook
MR = Castling with the King's rook
MC = Caslting with the Queen's rook

Each pawn is denoted by a single letter upon which file it is placed and therefore requires no further effort of the memory.

a = 1st rank
e = 2nd rank
i = 3rd rank
o = 4th rank <.>>

This is Scholar's mate as one example:
< Move - Countermove

1 l lo - l ol
2 X to - X ot
3 Q ok - (or si) f if - should be Q el.
4 es s - + >

Pearson wrote: "Note: The consonants used (to denote the files and pawns) will be recognised by all who are acquainted with Dr Grey's "Memoria Technica," as indicating the numerals 1 to 8. The application of letters on Dr. Grey's system to the purposes of Chronology, Astronomy, and other matters connected with figures, suggested to the author, many years ago, the employment of them, which he now recommends from his own experience. The adoption from that system...will, to those already acquainted with the "Memoria Technia" be unobjectionable; and perhaps no other selection would really be better. For representing the other pieces, the author had to make do the best he could, with the other consonants."

Jul-20-11  Lovuschka: It is a shame that the compositions in his book are full of errors, but luckily many are easily correctable. Instead of giving such one, here is a more difficult case to discuss:

click for larger view

Philipp Stamma
Essai sur le jeu des Echecs, 1737 (study no. 2)
White wins
Intention: 1.Rh4 Qxh4 2.Qg8+ Kxg8 3.Se7+ Kh8 4.Sf7+ Rxf7 5.Rc8+ Rf8 6.Rxf8 mate.

Possible refutation (SH, original publication): 1...fxe5! 2.Rxh3 Sxh3+ 3.Kg2 Sxc6 4.Rxc6 Sg5 5.Rxb6 Rad8!! (diagram 2), or 4.Kxh3 Se7 5.bxa5 bxa5 6.Rc5 Sf5! 7.Rxe5 g2! 8.Kxg2 Sh4+ 9.Kg3 Sxf3 and while White would have some kind of advantage in a game it is unclear if he can win, see diagram 3.

click for larger view

Diagram 2

click for larger view

Diagram 3

Jul-20-11  Lovuschka: It should be noted, in addition to my previous post, that there are three versions which work perfectly fine. Two have the Sf2 removed (one with additional pa3-a2), and one by Stamma himself in his 1745 book "The Noble Game of Chess" has Pa3-a4 Pb4-b5 and +wPd3.

Judging by the number of versions in that book of his 1737 studies, Stamma must have noticed a great number of incorrectnesses or unclear variations.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Technically, Stamma is has no recorded games because the games were just compositions and analysis.
Dec-26-14  Oliveira: By perusing this gentleman's published works, I happened to notice that his first name, certainly a Western adaptation, is written "Philippe" in French, and "Phillip" in English but never "Philipp", as given by this site and Wikipedia. Moreover, all the English authors which I had opportunity to read use the spelling "Phillip" or "Philip".

The scanned original editions can be viewed through Google Books:

I)French Edition, 1737:

Essai sur le Jeu des Echecs,
Où l'on donne quelques règles pour le bien joüer, & remporter l'avantage par des coups fins & subtils, que l'on peut appeller les secrets de ce jeu:

II)English Edition, 1745:

The Noble Game of Chess;
Or, a new and easy method to learn to play well in a short time: together with a curious account of its antiquity, derivation of its terms, &c:

I strongly suspect that some not very meticulous editor of Wikipedia is to blame for the confusion. As a matter of fact, I recently deleted a long-standing picture that was supposed to be of Stamma from his page on that site. The reason? The one in the picture was none other than Johannes Gutenberg! (

Premium Chessgames Member
  SwitchingQuylthulg: <Oliveira> It seems German-language sources (like and widely use the "Philipp" spelling; why CG and the English-language Wikipedia should have adopted the German spelling I don't know, but it's not some kind of modern typo.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: I think a lot of German-ness got into the databases via Chessbase.

I could be wrong - but I think I've noticed a slight tendency, and given Chessbase's "market penetration" it might be true.

Dec-27-14  Oliveira: Well noticed, <SwitchingQuylthulg>. I was actually browsing through Stamma's "Hundert Endspiele" earlier yesterday, but failed to notice the different spelling. I should have figured that "Philipp" was a Germanized form of the name (cf. Philipp Lahm, the famous German footballer).

So now the question shifts to "should <> keep the Germanized spelling, or instead adopt the English version of the name?"

Dec-27-14  Oliveira: <zanzibar> raises an interesting hypothesis for the reason of the spread of this German spelling. Nonetheless, a reasearch into Chessbase's database reveals no games of Stamma. Of course, they also sell instructional material that might have contained Stamma's analyses. Still, Stamma's games (or should I say "analyses"?) here seem to stem from William Lewis' "Stamma on the Game of Chess" (available at

With that in mind, I cannot help but call your attention regarding yet another issue. The games given here are indicated as having been annotated by Stamma when in reality those notes are from Lewis.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Good practical research <Oliveira>, busting my idea.

The "Stamma on the Game ..." you cite uses Philip.

The bio should probably mention his use of a near precursor algebraic notation:

<Rather surprisingly, algebraic chess notation was used by Philipp Stamma (c. 1705–55) in an almost fully developed form before the now obsolete descriptive chess notation evolved. 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.[18] But Philidor defeated Stamma in a match, so his writings had more influence and the descriptive system based on his approach was dominant for a long time. Algebraic notation became dominant in the 20th century, although it did not become popular in the English-speaking countries until the 1970s.[19]

^ Davidson, Henry (1981). "A Short History of Chess (1949)". McKay. pp. 152–53. ISBN 0-679-14550-8.

^ McCrary , R.J. "The History of Chess Notation" .


Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: * * * * *

Some other mention of the player:

<A other interesting reference is the work from the Syria is the chess player Philip Stamma who showed 100 positions in his book “Experiences in chess,consisting of rules on how to play well and how to obtain advantages with precise moves,which can be called the secrets of this game,Paris 1737.As you can see in this book Stamma demonstrated memorial ideas in de endgame as well.

Stamma’s work has been duly appreciated by later generations.The first Russian chess master Alexander Petroff wrote about Stamma’s book,”Similar positions seldom happen in real games nowadays,but they are tremendously useful as exercises.You can test your self on how to find your way out of even the most difficult positions,and to win your games in desperate situations.>

<c.1705–55, Syrian-born chess pioneer. He lived in France and Italy before settling in England c.1737. There he attained a reputation as a fine chess player, popularized the game by introducing modern chess technique, and became known for his primer Essai sur le jeu des échecs (1737, tr. The Noble Game of Chess, 1745, and Stamma on the Game of Chess, 1818). A master of strategy, particularly of the endgame, he was known as well for his famous loss (1747) to François-André Philidor>


<Sir Abraham Janssen and Philip Stamma were excellent matches for the French composer, but he was still able to beat both of them in games at Slaughter's coffeehouse in London. Stamma was challenged to an extraordinary ten game match in which draws were counted as victories for his opponent. Even with these rules, Philidor won eight games, lost one, and drew one. From then on, he was considered the unofficial champion of the world.>

The above is interesting as it notes the location of the Philidor--Stamma match.

By the way <Oliveira>, you may have fixed the chess player page on Wiki, but the image is still incorrect:

(Although it does use Philip)

Edward Winter uses Philip as well, which argues for its adoption, in CN 6059:

<6059. Advertisement for Stamma book

John Roycroft (London) sends a particularly old specimen of a newspaper advertisement for a chess book: mention of Philip Stamma’s Essai sur le Jeu des Echecs (Paris, 1737) in the London Daily Post and General Advertiser of 10 March 1739:> (scroll down)

The advertisement uses the quaint abbrev. Phil. .

The original Parisian publication uses Philip, and so perhaps should we.

<Of printed books, there are Philip Stamma's Essai sur le jeu des ‚checs. Paris, 1737;>

The split in the naming was already apparent in 1871, from the Library of Congress catalog:">

(Maybe more to come...?)

Premium Chessgames Member

click for larger view

(White to move and win)

Philipp Stamma

The Noble Game of Chess, 1745 (study 17)

Spoiler Alert!

(Предположительно первый пример при-акцию, в шахматной композиции)

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: The various English editions of his book can be found here:">

1745 - The Noble Game of Chess, Philip Stamma

1818 - On the Game of Chess, ~ with notes and remarks by W. Lewis (2e 1819)

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <Carolus>, one of my fav sites, uses Philipp but notes the use of Phillip [sic]:

<He was a Syrian chess player from Allepo and an interpreter of Oriental languages. (Cf.>

Batgirl, on the other hand, uses Philip:

Dec-27-14  Oliveira: <zanzibar>: Wow, that is comprehensive.

Well, then I suppose we should consider the matter over the spelling of the name settled: it would be preferable to have "Philip" here since it is an English-language website. Likewise, I believe there's no doubt that the notes on Stamma's games should be fixed to indicate their actually Lewis's. Agreed? I shall bring the matter to <>.

<zanzibar> could suggest to Chessgames biographers to make the pertinent additions to this player's page.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Well, the info is in the notes above for any and all... just saving a little google time.

By the way, I should point out his French name (i.e. the name used in his first publication) was <Philippe>:

< Philippe Stamma, Essai sur le jeu des echecs : où l'on donne quelques Regles pour le bien joüer, & remporter l'avantage par des Coups fins & ſubtils, que l'on peut appeller les Secrets de ce Jeu, Paris, impr. Emery,‎ 1737>

Which can be read here:

or here:

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