I'm familiar with chess notation, but this has left me scratching my head. Looking at this answer, I see two games ending with moves marked as "+-" or "-+" (plus-minus or minus-plus). What does this annotation mean? Is it standard? And why are the two games using it with the symbols in different order?

Wikipedia does not mention this symbol, and I find searching for it quite difficult. Looking at the two boards allows me to rule out plenty of things - it's not check, checkmate or stalemate - but doesn't decisively reveal what it is. Is this perhaps some indicator of positional advantage (which I can see on both boards)?

  • 1
    Wikipedia does mention the symbol (see Annotation symbols), though with a slash in between:+/- and -/+. The actual symbols are "±" and "∓" but they are a bit hard to make on a normal keyboard which is why the plus and minus symbols are placed behind each other instead of on top of each other.
    – Tommiie
    Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 9:07
  • @Tommiie There is a difference between ± (or +/-) and +-. The latter is a decisive , winning advantage. Commented Dec 11, 2019 at 16:06

3 Answers 3


What does “+-” mean in algebraic notation?

This symbol means "White has decisive advantage", which means that White's advantage is big enough to secure him victory. As for symbol -+ it means "Black has decisive advantage".

What does this notation mean?

This notation is introduced to bypass the language barrier so any reader ( Japanese, English, Arabian, Marsian, it doesn't matter! ) can understand the comment behind the move. In the old days before this notation, commentaries were given in words, which required the reader to know commentator's native tongue or to find the translation of those commentaries. This way, when commentator writes +- behind the move, everybody ( Japanese, English, Arabian, Marsian, it doesn't matter! ) know what it means. It is shorter and cleaner this way.

Is it standard?

Yes, it is. The symbols were invented by Chess Informant and accepted as a standard. You can find out more about chess notation here.

And why are the two games using it with the symbols in different order?

Because the positions in those games are different -> in one White has the decisive advantage while in the other it is Black who should win.

Hopefully this answer helped you. If you need further clarifications leave a comment. Best regards.

  • The chess informant link is broken - please remove or replace. Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 15:52
  • @DavidAirapetyan Thank you for pointing it out, removed the link since I could not find suitable replacement. Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 23:40

The symbol is an evaluation. +- means that White is winning. The first sign will refer to White's indication, so if there is a '-' at the start, White is losing, and vice versa.


It means checkmate. For example, if black was to checkmate the king with his Queen, it would be written: Q__+ , the _ indicating which move black played with the queen in order to checkmate the opponent's (in this case white) king.

  • 8
    The answer given by AlwaysLearningNewStuff is correct. +- and -+ always refer to evaluations. Checkmate is indicated by #, though I have occasionally seen ++.
    – dfan
    Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 21:14
  • 1
    In the question I mention specific positions notated with the symbol in question (+- or -+) which are not checkmate. Also, Q___+ would indicate a queen move that gives check, not mate. Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 1:59
  • + is often used for check but not for checkmate. +- and -+ are often used to show that one side has an advantage.
    – yobamamama
    Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 22:04

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