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Full Shogi Introduction

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Full Shogi Introduction

Post by 1059860 on Sun Sep 13, 2009 10:00 pm

Note: This article contains Japanese kanji. For all computers that does not support the language, you may see squares or random codes in place of the kanji.


Shogi was a game invented by the early Japanese, and through out the past millennium, it has evolved to the game today. The game Shogi is played on a 9x9 board, with 81 squares total, and the main differences between Shogi from any other
board games are the pieces from both sides (except for the King) look
the same, only pointing in different different directions. These pieces
are not colored differently like in English Chess because you can reuse captured piecesExclamation

The initial setup on the board looks like this:

First, let's start with the board. The board, looking with Sente on the bottom
and Gote at the top, is marked by 9 vertical columns called "files" and
9 horizontal rows called "ranks". The way to name a single square is by
the NUMBER FIRST, then the LETTER in LOWER CASE. For example, if you
want to nominate the square on the 4th file and c rank, the square is
"4c". The ranks are labeled from top to bottom a-i and the files are
labeled from right to left 1-9.

Now, let's go into deeper details at all the pieces... [Notice: Japanese characters ahead. If you happen to see boxes, then it indicates that your computer cannot
interpret these characters.]

玉将 (Gyokusho)、王将 (Osho) are the Kings. Gyokusho is the King on Sente (Black) side while Osho is the King on Gote (White) side. Black always goes first in game. In
tournaments, usually the challenger is Sente and the defender of a
title is Gote. These are often interpreted by the name 玉 or 王 (Gyoku or
O) and they're located in the center file and bottom rank from your
side. The King can move 1 step in all directions (the 8 squares around
it), so technically, it moves just like an English Chess king!

Next, we have the row 9 pieces in on the c and g ranks. These are the Pawns.
In Japanese, these are called 歩兵 (Fuhyo), and commonly abbreviated as 歩
(Fu). These pieces are very easy to know because there's 9 of them,
more than any other pieces, and they move 1 steps forward only, and can
only take like so (1 step forward).

Now, let's resume back to the bottom rank. Next to the King, we have 2 pieces marked as 金将 (kinsho), or abbreviated as 金 (kin). These are the Gold Generals, and
often known as Golds. These are very useful pieces, and are the primary
pieces to make checkmates due to their simplicity ability of mating the
King. How Golds move may be a bit difficult to remember:
They can move 1 step forward, 1 step backward, 1 step left, 1 step right, 1 step
diagonally forward left and 1 step diagonally forward right.
The CANNOT move diagonally backwards. Basically, they move like a King without the 2 diagonally-backward moves.

Then there's the Silver General, or Silver, located outside of the Golds on
the board, and marked as 銀将 (ginsho), or simply 銀 (gin). These are
comparable with the Gold generals, but they move slightly differently.
Silvers can move in all 4 diagonals and 1 step forward. They CANNOT
move 1 step left, 1 step right or 1 step directly backwards (but
diagonally they can, while Golds cannot).

Outside of the Silvers, there are the 桂馬 (keima) or 桂 (kei). These are the Knights.
However, these knights are far inferior to Chess Knights because rather
than have 8 squares total to move to, they can only move to the 2
squares forward, and that is, 2-steps-forward-and-1-step-to-the-left,
and 2-steps-forward-and-1-step-to-the-right, and there are no other
squares other than these 2 where these can go to. However, don't look
down at their power, because they can make some powerful threats!

Now, on the corners of the board, we have the Lances. They're called 香車
(kyosha) or just 香 (kyo). Just like their name, they LANCE. These
things can only move forward, and can go as far until the end of the
board. They're similar to a forward-only-Rook, if you want to say it
that way.

Two more pieces left, and these are the strongest pieces in the game:

角行 (kakugyo), or short: 角 (kaku), is the Bishop. This thing moves just like a Chess bishop.

飛車 (hisha), or short: 飛 (hi), is the Rook. This thing moves exactly like a Chess rook.

Now, with the pieces introduced, let's look more into the next important thing: PROMOTIONS!

The promotions are very simple to remember... Your piece can promote if any
of your pieces reach into the back 3 ranks of your enemy's camp. For
Sente (Black), the a, b, c ranks is the enemy's camp, and for Gote
(White), the g, h, and i files are the enemy's camp. The enemy's camp
is just basically the 3 files where your opponent start his or her
pieces initially.

A piece may promote in 3 different situations:
1. When it enters the enemy's camp.
2. When it moves within the enemy's camp.
3. When it moves out from a square within the enemy's camp.

Now let's look at some of the promotions:
First, you must remember that there are 2 pieces that cannot promote: 1 is the
Gold General, and the other is your King. All other pieces can promote
in some way.

The Pawn, Knight, Lance, and Silver can all promote to a GOLD. These pieces all move exactly like a Gold General.

  • A promoted Pawn is called a と (to).
  • A promoted Knight is just called a Promoted Knight (今).
  • A promoted Lance is just called a Promoted Lance (杏).
  • A promoted Silver is just called a Promoted Silver (全).

When you promote a piece, you CANNOT unpromote them, and since
Silver/Knight/Lance all have different way of moving from a Gold,
sometimes you don't want to promote the piece.

The Bishop promotes to "Dragon Horse", or 竜馬 (ryuma), or 馬 (uma) for short. This
thing moves just like a Bishop, but with 4 additional squares: the
square directly forward, the square directly backward, the square
directly left and the square directly right. Basically, it's a fusion
of the Bishop and the King's moves.

The Rook promotes to "Dragon King", or 竜王 (ryuo), or 竜 (ryu) for short. This thing moves just like a Rook + King moves fusion; basically all rook moves with 4 immediate
diagonals 1 step.

Now with the promotions covered, let's look at some other aspects...

Last edited by 1059860 on Sun Sep 13, 2009 10:03 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Full Shogi Introduction

Post by 1059860 on Sun Sep 13, 2009 10:00 pm

When a promoted piece is captured, it goes onto your opponent's piece
stand facing up, so if he decides to drop it, it's just the old
unpromoted piece. For example: If he drops a pawn, it is a Pawn, not a

Here, I'll talk about dropping pieces. When you capture a
piece from your opponent, the piece can be DROPPED on the board. This
piece can go to any empty square on the board. Also, you cannot have 2
pawns in the same file. So unless the pawn in a certain file has been
taken, or it has been promoted to a To-kin, you cannot drop another
pawn in the same file.

Now: How to win the game...

Well, you win, with a checkmate, which is a situation where the King is in
check and there are no other places for the King to go, and there is no
where to remove the check, including dropping pieces. Just like in a
Chess game, when there's a checkmate, it's game over.

You may mate the opponent's king in several different ways: By either a piece
on board, or by dropping a piece. However, you CANNOT mate the
opponent's king with a dropped PAWN.

Before ending this guide, here's another thing I must talk about: Game notations. The notations allow people to know and save exactly what happened during the game. For example, K-5h means the King has moved to 5h square. P*2d means a
Pawn has been dropped at the 2d Square. R-7c+ means the Rook (notice
the + after the notation) has moved to 7c. +R-7c means the Dragon (note
the + is before the entire notation) has moved to 7c. Here are some important things
that you should know about notations:
K = King
P = Pawn
G = Gold
S = Silver
N = Knight
L = Lance
R = Rook
B = Bishop
* = Drop piece
- = Moving piece
x = Taking an enemy piece

And if there's 2 of the same piece that can move to the same square, simply
note the rank or the file of the moving piece beforehand.

Lastly, I'll talk about "Repetition Draw". A Repetition Draw is when the two
players moves a similar set of moves back-and-forth. This situation is
not to be allowed to occur for more than 3 times, or the player who
starts this is forced to lose the game.

If you want to learn more or play Shogi, is a wonderful
website. I'm honestly not that good, but I love the game, and would
love to learn more from it. Feel free to reply to here and reflect on
this guide. Thanks!

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Re: Full Shogi Introduction

Post by DoubleU on Thu Sep 24, 2009 2:42 pm

Hi, I must clarify and correct the "Repetition Draw" part. If the players make a four-fold (i.e. more than three times) repetition of the board, the game ends as a draw - i.e. in no-one's favor, called sennichite. This should not be confused with perpetual check, either with or without repetition, which is called renzoku oute, and costs the offending player the game.

There is also jishogi, or draw by kings and pieces safely entering the promotion zone (Impasse in English). If all pieces are protected in the promotion zone, then the game should be halted, and kings are worth nothing, rooks and bishops are five points each, everything else is one point, and a score of less than 24 is a loss, but a score of between 24 and 30 inclusive is a draw.

Draws are (correct me if I'm wrong) so rare that they're replayed in the professional world.

Finally, I don't know if it's been mentioned, but you don't have to get out of check and stay out, but if you don't, your opponent can take the king and win. Also, in tournaments and serious games, an illegal move loses automatically.


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Re: Full Shogi Introduction

Post by 1059860 on Thu Sep 24, 2009 7:37 pm

Thank you. I forgot to mention about sennichite and impasse. Smile

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