A Japanese form of chess. Unlike go, it is not as widely known outside Japan. It is unique among historical chess games in that captured pieces can return to the board; to aid this the pieces are wedge-shaped and their orientation on the board determines ownership, rather than color.

Brief version of the rules of shogi:

Each side has the following pieces, with moves: (Names used are suggested English names, not original Japanese)

King(K) - One space in any direction, as per chess.
Gold General(G) - One space in any orthogonal direction, or one space diagonally forward.
Silver General(S) - One space in any diagonal direction or orthogonally forwards.
/ \
Knight{N} - As a chess knight, a "L-shaped" but forwards only.
Bishop(B) - Diagonally for any number of spaces, as a chess bishop.
Rook(R) - As a chess rook.
Lance(L) - Orthogonally forward only, any number of spaces.
Pawn (P) - As a chess pawn, one space forward orthogonally,
but with no two-space initial move and it captures as it moves, not diagonally. A piece is slightly wedge-shaped, like so: /\ || -- Each piece has an identifying mark, usually the
approprate Japanese kanji or the initial of the
English name. A Shogi board is 9 by 9 squares, slightly oblong,
and not checkered. The pieces are placed thusly: L N S G K G S N L - R - - - - - B - P P P P P P P P P - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - P P P P P P P P P - B - - - - - R - L N S G K G S N L

The objective of Shogi is to checkmate the enemy King; that is, place it in threat of capture and make it so it cannot move without being captured the following turn.

After determining who will go first, play proceeds much like western chess; a player may move one piece each turn. If the piece ends a move on a square occupied by an opposing piece, the opposing piece is captured and placed to the side of the board, by the player who captured it. (also called "in hand")

Alternatively, a player may drop a piece that is held in hand on any unoccupied space, in its unpromoted form, subject to the following conditions:

- The piece must have a valid move (i.e, one cannot drop a knight on the last two rows of the board).
- A pawn may not be dropped on a column that already has a friendly pawn, nor may it be dropped in front of an opposing king to deliver checkmate.

When a piece ends a move in one of the three opposing rows of the board (where the opponent's pieces start), it may promote. If it has no legal move, it must promote.

Rooks and bishops gain the ability to move one square in the other set of directions. That is, rooks may move diagonally one square and bishops orthogonally one square. Kings and Golds do not promote. All other pieces promote to Gold Generals.

Shogi pieces have notation for the promoted state on the reverse side, and are turned over when promoted. A suggested English notation simply uses the nonpromoted initial, circled. When captured, a promoted piece reverts to its non-promoted state.

When a player's king is in check, that is, threatened by an opposing piece, the player must either move the King out of check, move another piece to block the threatening piece or capture it, or drop a piece in hand to block.

Naturally, none of the 'special' rules of chess, such as castling and en passant, apply.

The Shogi Metanode

Please be patient. Many of these variants have extremely complex rules, and some of the larger variants would require multiple nodes to contain just the different pieces. I will attempt to write them all up, but it will take time.

Shogi and its variants

Shogi is actually a modern form of an early version of Chess developed in mainland Asia and brought to Japan, where it flourished and multiplied into dozens of unique forms. The earliest form of actual Shogi is likely Heian Shogi. From there it developed into the large-board variants (11x11 and upwards) and modern-day Shogi. Most of the smaller-board variants (8x9 and smaller) are relatively recent.

The names of each variant appear hardlinked, with the size of the board appearing in parentheses. If the variant allows piece dropping (placing a captured piece or out-of-play piece into play on your side at the expense of your turn), it will be noted in parentheses as well.

Other interesting Shogi-related topics

Playing Shogi and other variants on the computer


  • Shocky - http://www.chessvariants.com/shogi.dir/shocky.html
  • WinShogi - http://nexus.carleton.ca/~ttidman/WinShogi/
  • Shogi Variants - http://www.hollandnumerics.demon.co.uk/SHOGISW.HTM
  • Zillions of Games - http://www.zillions-of-games.com
  • ShogiVar - http://www.netspace.net.au/~trout/
  • PShogi - ftp://ftp.shogi.net/pub/shogi/variants/pshogi.zip


  • Heian - ftp://ftp.shogi.net/pub/shogi/variants/heian-0.03.tar.gz
  • Gnu Shogi - http://www.gnu.org/directory/games/gnushogi.html
  • Chu Shogi (Java) - http://www.colina.demon.co.uk/chu.html


  • Sekita Shogi - http://www.m-net.ne.jp/~sekita/english.html

Sites of interest

  • Chess Variants - http://www.chessvariants.com
  • Shogi.net - http://www.shogi.net
  • American Chu Shogi Association - http://www.chushogi.org

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