しょうぎ (Shōgi) Japanese chess

Shōgi (しょうぎ)is played with two players.  Players take turns moving pieces across the board, capturing and reusing pieces until checkmate is achieved.

Shōgi pieces are all the same colour and shape but they differ in size; the largest being ōshō (おおしょう), the King, and the smallest fuhyō (ふひょう), a pawn.  The pieces are pointed on one end, they point in the direction that they are going to more.  Pieces are rectangular and slope downward with kanji on both sides, the kanji can be printed or painted.  The kanji have different meanings depending on which side is facing upwards; because pieces can be promoted thus gaining different or additional moves.  Weaker pieces gain stronger moves while stronger pieces gain additional moves.   To promote a piece it is turned over revealing its new status.

The board has 9 rows and 9 columns, pieces are prompted in the last third of the board from the controlling player.  The board is usually slightly raised so that pieces make a distinct sound when placed.  Promoting pieces is optional, this is done by turning it over after it’s moved.  Captured pieces loose their promoted status.

Captured piece are placed on the board un-promoted.  A ‘drop’ can not capture a piece nor does ‘dropping’ in the promotion zone mean an instant promotion.  There are promotion rules for most of the pieces

The two main differences between Shōgi and Chess are the promotion and reuse of pieces.  The rules for Shōgi are quite complex and any mistake is an instant loss.  Shōgi requires a lot of evolving strategy as pieces change hands all the time.

There is no clear evidence of how Shōgi arrived in Japan.  There are some theories but no evidence to support them.  One suggests that Shōgi is derived from an India game called Chaturanga; another suggests that Shogi was brought to Japan after the start of the Heian (へいあん) period.

みどり かえで

Midori Kaede