Shōgi

Shōgi

Shōgi

Le shogi, ou « jeu d’échecs des généraux » en japonais, est un jeu traditionnel se rapprochant du jeu d’échecs occidental, opposant également deux joueurs entre eux.

Au Japon, il est célébré le 17 novembre.

Le shogiban, avec toutes les pièces en position de départ.

Sommaire

Les Règles

Le jeu se déroule sur un tablier, un « shogiban » de 9 cases sur 9. Les caractères physiques (dimensions, fabrication) se rapprochent beaucoup de celles du « goban ».

Chaque joueur joue l’un après l’autre, le but du jeu est de prendre le roi adverse.

À chaque tour, un joueur peut soit déplacer une pièce, soit « parachuter » une pièce prise sur la surface de jeu. Les pièces se déplacent selon leur type. Si une pièce s’arrête sur une case occupée par une pièce adverse, cette pièce est prise.

Contrairement au jeu d’échecs, les pièces prises sont mises en réserve. Celui qui les a prises pourra les remettre en jeu à son tour ultérieurement (les « parachuter »). Le parachutage introduit du dynamisme dans le jeu puisque les joueurs peuvent parachuter les pièces capturées à tout moment soit pour menacer l’adversaire, soit pour renforcer leur défense. Le parachutage explique l’aspect particulier des pièces du shogi. Potentiellement utilisables par les deux joueurs, elles ne se distinguent pas par leur couleur, mais par la direction vers laquelle elles pointent.

Si une pièce menace le roi, il y a « échec ». L’échec n’est pas annoncé, comme au jeu d’échecs occidental (sauf entre amateurs traditionnellement). Si l’adversaire ne s’en aperçoit pas, on peut prendre le roi et gagner la partie. Si aucune parade n’est possible, le joueur est « échec et mat » ou « mat » et a perdu.

Les pièces

Presque toutes les pièces au shogi pouvant être prises et rejouées par les deux joueurs, leur couleur et leur marquage est indistinct pour les deux joueurs. Les pièces sont généralement de forme légèrement trapézoïdale, avec un toit indiquant par leur orientation sur le tablier le camp auquel appartient la pièce jouée. Seuls les rois sont différenciés (car traditionnellement, il ne peut y avoir deux rois en exercice) par leur nom ou leur abréviation usuelle.

Les pièces sont toujours déposées au départ (ou lors d’un « parachutage ») en montrant leur face normale (non promue, et marquée en noir). Toute pièce promue (en dehors du roi et du général d’or qui ne peuvent pas l’être) doit être retournée après le déplacement pour montrer l’autre face, laquelle peut être marquée en rouge (dans les jeux modernisés) ou en noir (si la face normale montre ses deux kanjis traditionnels). La face cachée des rois et généraux d’or (qui ne peuvent pas être promus durant le jeu) est vierge.

Les pièces traditionnelles comportent sur leur face normale deux sinogrammes kanji, généralement tracés dans leur forme cursive, et dont le premier indique le type et la valeur de la pièce : plus la pièce a de valeur, plus le sinogramme compte de traits.

Les kanjis des pièces en position promues (en généraux d’or ou pions d’or) sont des simplifications cursives successives du même mot (kin) « or » présent dans leur nom complet, le nombre de trait décroissant avec la valeur des pièces. Toutefois une autre convention pour ces promotions utilise des simplifications du premier idéogramme de la pièce correspondante non promue (sauf pour le pion d’or qui emploie une simplification cursive, étroite, de son premier idéogramme).

Pièce normale En japonais Mouvements autorisés Pièce promue En japonais Mouvements autorisés
Notation (anglaise) Nom
français
Image Kanji
( Romaji)
Notation (anglaise) Nom
français
Image Kanji
( Romaji)
pièces uniques de chaque joueur tout au long de la partie
K
(King)
Roi
(régnant)
Shogi osho.png (osho) :
roi – général
  Toute case adjacente.  
Général de jade
(opposant)
Shogi gyokusho.png (gyokusho) :
joyau ( jade) – général
pièces uniques de chaque joueur en début de partie
R
(Rook)
Tour
(ou « chariot »)
Shogi hisha.png (hisha) :
volant – chariot
  Horizontalement et verticalement, sans limite de nombre de cases et sans jamais sauter. +R Dragon
(ou « roi dragon »)
Shogi ryuo.png (ryuo) :
dragon – roi
  Comme la tour plus le roi.
B
(Bishop)
Fou Shogi kakugyo.png (kakugyo) :
angle – marcheur
  En diagonale, sans limite de nombre de cases et sans jamais sauter. +B Cheval dragon
(ou « cheval », « roi fou »)
Shogi ryuma.png (ryuma) :
dragon – cheval
  Comme le fou plus le roi.
pièces en double de chaque joueur en début de partie
G
(Gold)
Général d’or
(ou « or »)
Shogi kinsho.png (kinsho) :
or – général
  Toutes les cases adjacentes, sauf les diagonales en arrière.  
S
(Silver)
Général d’argent
(ou « argent »)
Shogi ginsho.png (ginsho) :
argent – général
  Les trois cases devant, et les deux cases en diagonale arrière. Sa promotion optionelle est généralement non avantageuse car son statut normal facilite ses possibilités de retraite rapide. +S Argent d’or Shogi narigin.png (narigin) :
promu – argent
  Comme un général d’or.
N
(kNight)
Cavalier Shogi keima.png (keima) :
canellier ( Cassia) – cheval
  Deux cases en avant, et une sur le côté, gauche ou droite. Il peut également sauter par-dessus des pièces, amies ou ennemies. Sa promotion optionelle devient obligatoire quand il atteint la dernière rangée (sinon il ne pourrait plus bouger). +N Cavalier d’or Shogi narikei.png (narikei) :
promu – canellier ( Cassia)
  Comme un général d’or.
L
(Lance)
Lancier Shogi kyosha.png (kyosha) :
bâton d’encens – chariot
  En avant uniquement, sans limite de nombre de cases et sans jamais sauter. Sa promotion optionelle devient obligatoire quand il atteint la dernière rangée (sinon il ne pourrait plus bouger). (Note : il ne change pas de colonne sauf quand il est en promotion.) +L Lancier d’or Shogi narikyo.png (narikyo) :
promu – bâton d’encens
  Comme un général d’or.
9 pièces pour chaque joueur en début de partie
P
(Pawn)
Pion Shogi fuhyo.png (fuhyo) :
pied – soldat
  Uniquement la case devant. Le pion prend également sur la case devant lui, contrairement aux échecs occidentaux. Sa promotion optionelle devient obligatoire et immédiate quand il atteint la dernière rangée (sinon il ne pourrait plus bouger), cependant la promotion a généralement lieu dès que possible. +P Pion d’or Shogi tokin.png (tokin) :
atteint – or
  Comme un général d’or.

La disposition initiale

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Notation anglaise (standard)   Notation française
  9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1     9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1  
  L N S G J G S N L a   L C A O J O A C L a
    R           B   b     T           F   b
  P P P P P P P P P c   P P P P P P P P P c
                    d                     d
                    e                     e
                    f                     f
  P P P P P P P P P g   P P P P P P P P P g
    B           R   h     F           T   h
  L N S G K G S N L i   L C A O R O A C L i
                                           

À droite, sont utilisées les notations standards en vigueur, et leu correspondances françaises et japonaises. Elles sont précisées ci-dessous (les pièces promues sont notées simplement avec le préfixe + dans les notations anglaises et françaises) :

Notation anglaise (standard) Notation française Notation japonaise (pièce non promue)
K (King) / J (Jewel) * R (Roi) / J (Jade) * (o, « roi ») / (gyoku, « joyau, jade ») *
R (Rook) T (Tour) ? (hi, « volant »)
B (Bishop) F (Fou) (kaku, « angle »)
G (Gold) O (général d’Or) (kin, « or »)
S (Silver) A (général d’Argent) (gin, « argent »)
N (kNight) C (Cavalier) (kei, « cannelier ( Cassia) »)
L (Lance) L (Lancier) (kyo, « encens »)
P (Pawn) P (Pion) (fu, « pied »)

* : Traditionnellement, le roi est attribué au joueur le plus gradé et le jade au challenger. Le roi peut parfois être donné à une personne âgée, sans considération de son niveau, par respect des anciens ; le roi et le jade ont la même valeur, et les mêmes possibilités de déplacement.

Le parachutage

Un joueur peut remettre en jeu à son profit toutes les pièces qu’il a prises à son adversaire. Quand vient son tour de jouer, il lui suffit de parachuter la pièce de son choix sur n’importe quelle case vide du shogiban.

Quelques contraintes s’appliquent néanmoins :

  • la pièce parachutée est toujours remise en jeu sous forme non promue ;
  • la pièce doit pouvoir se déplacer depuis cette case : il n’est pas possible de parachuter un lancier ou un pion sur la dernière ligne, ni un cavalier sur les deux dernières lignes ;
  • un pion ne peut être parachuté sur une colonne où se trouve déjà un pion non promu du même joueur ;
  • la pièce parachutée peut mettre en échec le roi adverse, voire le mater ; mais il n’est pas autorisé de mater le roi en parachutant un pion.

Promotion des pièces

Les trois dernières lignes en face de chaque joueur constituent le camp adverse, ou zone de promotion. Lorsqu’une pièce s’y déplace, y entre ou en sort, elle peut être promue (à l’exception du roi et des généraux d’or). La promotion n’est pas obligatoire, mais elle a lieu dans la grande majorité des cas. Elle devient cependant obligatoire si ne pas promouvoir la pièce la rendrait incapable de bouger. Ainsi, un lancier arrivant sur la dernière ligne doit être promu.

Parachuter une pièce dans le camp adverse n’est pas un déplacement, et la pièce est donc parachutée non promue. En revanche, si cette même pièce se déplace ensuite dans le camp adverse (ou y entre ou en sort), elle pourra être promue.

Classement des joueurs

Les joueurs sont classés de 20 kyu à 1 kyu et ensuite de 1 dan et au-delà; c’est la même terminologie que celle du jeu de go ou du karate. Les joueurs professionnels utilisent leur propre échelle allant de 4 dan à 9 dan pour l’élite. Les classements amateurs et professionnels sont décalés.

Handicaps

Les parties entre joueurs de force différente sont souvent jouées avec des handicaps. Dans une partie à handicap, une ou plusieurs des pièces du joueur le plus fort sont retirées du jeu. En contrepartie, ce joueur commence la partie. Les pièces retirées du jeu ne sont pas utilisables pour les parachutages et ne prennent aucune part au jeu. Le déséquilibre matériel ainsi créé n’est pas aussi déterminant qu’aux échecs occidentaux, parce que l’avantage matériel n’a pas autant d’importance au shogi.

Les handicaps habituels, dans l’ordre croissant, retirent au joueur handicapé :

  • son lancier gauche ;
  • son fou ;
  • sa tour ;
  • 2 pièces : sa tour et son lancier gauche ;
  • 2 pièces : sa tour et son fou ;
  • 4 pièces: sa tour, son fou et ses 2 lanciers ;
  • 6 pièces : sa tour, son fou, ses 2 lanciers et ses 2 cavaliers ;
  • 8 pièces : sa tour, son fou, ses 2 lanciers, ses 2 cavaliers et ses 2 généraux d’argent.

La coutume veut que lorsque le joueur plus faible gagne 3 parties d’affilée ou qu’il y a une différence de nombre total de victoires de 4, on diminue le handicap d’un niveau.

Stratégie et tactique

Les parachutages constituent la principale différence avec les échecs. Il en résulte une stratégie très défensive, parce que la défense du roi est primordiale. Une offensive rapide va laisser le camp du joueur attaquant vulnérable aux parachutages dès les premiers échanges de pièces. Comme les pions prennent devant eux, et ne se défendent pas entre eux, ils ont tendance à disparaître tôt dans la partie, constituant une réserve de munitions pour de telles attaques parachutées. Poser un pion derrière les lignes ennemies, le promouvant en tokin, et parachuter un deuxième pion juste derrière le premier, de telle sorte qu’ils se défendent mutuellement constitue une forte attaque. Ceci menace la défense entière de l’adversaire, mais a peu de valeur si l’attaque échoue et que les pièces parachutées sont capturées.

Les joueurs habitués aux échecs font peu usage des parachutages, mais parachuter constitue la moitié du jeu. Si un joueur se retrouve avec plus d’une paire de pièces capturées en main, c’est qu’il a négligé les possibilités d’attaque par parachutage. Cependant, il peut être utile de conserver un pion en main, ou de provoquer un échange de pièces pour en obtenir un.

Une décision qui intervient tôt dans la partie est d’échanger ou pas les fous. S’ils sont échangés, il sera possible de parachuter un fou derrière des lignes ennemies pour une fourchette, menaçant simultanément deux pièces. Les généraux d’argent sont souvent utilisés de cette manière également. De plus un fou parachuté qui se retire peut être promu, et un fou promu peut dominer le shogiban, c’est une pièce défensive particulièrement forte.

Les pièces attaquantes peuvent facilement être piégées dans le territoire ennemi, par exemple si l’adversaire parachute un pion derrière cette pièce, lui coupant sa ligne de retraite. Pour cette raison, les tours, qui ne peuvent reculer que dans une direction, sont conservées à bonne distance des avants poste en début de partie, et utilisées en tant que support des pièces plus faibles. Cependant, quand la partie s’ouvre, une tour promue peut devenir mortelle derrière les lignes ennemies.

Beaucoup d’attaques dans l’ouverture incluent la montée d’un général d’argent protégé par une tour. Comme les généraux d’argent ont plus de possibilités de retraite que les généraux d’or qui ont plus de possibilités latérales, les généraux d’argent sont habituellement considérés meilleurs en attaque et les généraux d’or meilleurs défenseurs. Il est de pratique courante d’utiliser deux généraux d’or et un d’argent pour défendre le roi.

Il y a beaucoup d’ouvertures furibisha ou « tour mobile » où la tour se déplace vers le centre ou la gauche du shogiban pour supporter une attaque, typiquement avec l’idée de laisser son adversaire attaquer pour mieux monter une défense et le contre-attaquer. Cependant, en tant que pièce la plus puissante du jeu, la tour invite à l’attaque, et pour les joueurs faibles une bonne chose est de garder le roi éloigné de sa tour. Laisser un roi sur sa case d’origine est appelé igyoku ou « roi assis » et est particulièrement dangereux.

Avancer un pion du lancier peut ouvrir la position pour permettre une attaque latérale. Ainsi, lorsqu’un joueur avance un pion du lancier, il est habituel que son adversaire avance le pion opposé, pour éviter des complications éventuelles par la suite.

Comme la défense est importante, et comme les pièces de shogi sont relativement lentes, l’ouverture tend à être plus longue qu’aux échecs, habituellement une douzaine de coups pour compléter sa défense avant de faire les premiers coups d’attaque. Il existe de nombreuses fortifications défensives appelées « châteaux ».

Le château Yagura

Le château Yagura est un château très populaire, que ce soit au niveau professionnel ou au niveau amateur. Le Yagura comprend défensivement un roi très protégé et une ligne de pions fortifiée et offensivement tour, fou et pion prêts à soutenir une attaque du général d’argent ou du cavalier. Il est difficile à briser en attaque frontale, mais plus vulnérable aux attaques latérales. Il est typiquement employé contre Ibisha ou ouverture dite avec la « tour statique », qui signifie que la tour reste sur sa colonne d’origine.

Parties entre ordinateur et être humain

En octobre 2010, l’ordinateur « Akara 2010 » bat la joueuse de Shogi la mieux classée.

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[lang_en]
– Other games

Shōgi

Shogi game in progress

A shogi game being played with a magnetic traveling set. Captured pieces in the tray (bottom-center) can be dropped on the board by the capturing player. Players 2 Age range 5+ Setup time < 2 minutes Playing time 30 mins. to 2 hours (typically) Random chance None Skills required Tactics, Strategy

Shogi (shogi , generals’ chess), also known as Japanese chess, is a two-player board game in the same family as Western chess, chaturanga, and Chinese Xiangqi, and is the most popular of a family of chess variants native to Japan. Shogi means general’s (sho ?) boardgame (gi ?). In early years, however, shogi was written ?? (the same as Xiangqi, « elephant chess »).

The earliest predecessor of the game, chaturanga, originated in India in the 6th century, and spread from China to Japan, where it spawned a number of variants. Shogi in its present form was played as early as the 16th century, while a direct ancestor without the « drop rule » was recorded from 1210 in a historical document Nichureki, which is an edited copy of Shochureki and Kaichureki from the late Heian period (ca 1120).

According to ChessVariants.com, « Perhaps the enduring popularity of Shogi can be attributed to its ‘drop rule’; it was the first chess variant wherein captured pieces could be returned to the board to be used as one’s own. David Pritchard credits the drop rule to the practice of 16th century mercenaries who switched loyalties when captured—no doubt as an alternative to execution. »

Contents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Game equipment

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A traditional shogi-ban (shogi board) displaying a set of koma (pieces). The pieces on the far side are turned to show their promoted values. The stands on either side are komadai used to hold captured pieces. The board itself is raised for the comfort of players seated on tatami mats (background), and is hollowed underneath to produce a pleasing sound when the pieces are moved.

Two players, Sente (Black) and Gote (White), play on a board composed of rectangles in a grid of 9 ranks (rows) by 9 files (columns). The rectangles are undifferentiated by marking or color. The board is almost always made of rectangles; square boards are very uncommon.

Each player has a set of 20 wedge-shaped pieces of slightly different sizes. Except for the kings, opposing pieces are differentiated only by orientation, not by marking or color. From largest to smallest (most to least powerful), the pieces are:

    • 1 king

 

    • 1 rook

 

    • 1 bishop

 

    • 2 gold generals

 

    • 2 silver generals

 

    • 2 knights

 

    • 2 lances

 

    • 9 pawns

 

Several of these names were chosen to correspond to their rough equivalents in international chess, and not as literal translations of the Japanese names.

Each piece has its name written on its surface in the form of two kanji (Chinese characters used in Japanese), usually in black ink. On the reverse side of each piece, other than the king and gold general, are one or two other characters, in amateur sets often in a different colour (usually red); this side is turned face up during play to indicate that the piece has been promoted. The pieces of the two players do not differ in colour, but instead each faces forward, toward the opposing side. This shows who controls the piece during play.

It has been claimed that the Japanese characters have deterred people from learning shogi. This has led to  » Westernized » or « international » pieces, which replace the characters with iconic symbols. However, partially because the traditional pieces are already iconic by size, with more powerful pieces being larger, most Western players soon learn to recognize them, and Westernized pieces have never become popular.

Following is a table of the pieces with their Japanese representations and English equivalents. The abbreviations are used for game notation and often to refer to the pieces in speech in Japanese.

Closeup of shogi pieces. Top: +R, R, K (reigning), K (challenging), B, +B. Bottom: +L, L, +S, S, G, N, +N, p, +p.

English name Image Kanji Romaji Meaning Abbreviations
King
(reigning)
Reigning king ?? osho king general K ? o
King
(challenging)
Challenging king ?? gyokusho jeweled general K ? gyoku
Rook Rook ?? hisha flying chariot R ? hi
Promoted rook
(« Dragon »)
Promoted rook ?? ryuo dragon king +R ? or ?* ryu
Bishop Bishop ?? kakugyo angle mover B ? kaku
Promoted bishop
(« Horse »)
Promoted bishop ?? ryuma or ryume dragon horse +B ? uma
Gold general
(« Gold »)
Gold general ?? kinsho gold general G ? kin
Silver general
(« Silver »)
Silver general ?? ginsho silver general S ? gin
Promoted silver Promoted silver ?? narigin promoted silver +S (?)
Knight Knight ?? keima cassia horse N ? kei
Promoted knight Promoted knight ?? narikei promoted cassia +N (? or ?)
Lance Lance ?? kyosha incense chariot L ? kyo
Promoted lance Promoted lance ?? narikyo promoted incense +L (? or ?)
Pawn Pawn ?? fuhyo foot soldier p ? fu
Promoted pawn
(« tokin »)
Promoted pawn ?? tokin reaches gold +p ? (or ?) to

* The kanji ? is a simplified form of ?.

English speakers sometimes refer to promoted bishops as horses and promoted rooks as dragons, after their Japanese names, and generally use the Japanese term tokin for promoted pawns. Silver generals and gold generals are commonly referred to simply as silvers and golds.

The characters inscribed on the reverse sides of the pieces to indicate promoted rank may be in red ink, and are usually cursive. The characters on the backs of the pieces that promote to gold generals are cursive variants of ? ‘gold’, becoming more cursive (more abbreviated) as the value of the original piece decreases. These cursive forms have these equivalents in print: ? for promoted silver, ? for promoted knight, ? for promoted lance, and ? for promoted pawn (tokin). Another typographic convention has abbreviated versions of the unpromoted ranks, with a reduced number of strokes: ? for a promoted knight (?), ? for a promoted lance (?), and the ? as above for a promoted silver, but ? for tokin.

Setup and gameplay

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The starting setup of a game of shogi.

Each player sets up his pieces facing his opponent.

    • Inthe rank nearest the player he places:
        • The king is placed in the center file.

       

        • The two gold generals are placed in the adjacent files to the king.

       

        • The two silver generals are placed adjacent to each gold general.

       

        • The two knights are placed adjacent to each silver general.

       

        • The two lances are placed in the corners, adjacent to each knight.

       

 

That is, the first rank is

L N S G K G S N L

or

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
    • In the second rank, each player places:
        • The bishop in the same file as the left knight.

       

        • The rook in the same file as the right knight.

       

 

    • In the third rank, the nine pawns are placed one to each file.

 

Traditionally, even the order of placing the pieces on the board is determined. There are two recognized orders, ohashi and ito. [illustration 1] Placement sets pieces with multiples (generals, knights, lances, pawns) from left to right in all cases, and follows the order:

    • King
    • Gold generals

 

    • Silver generals

 

    • Knights
        • In Ito, the player now places pawns

       

 

    • Lances
    • Bishop
    • Rook
        • In Ohashi, the player now places pawns

       

 

The players alternate taking turns, with one player taking Black and playing first. The terms « Black » and « White » are used to differentiate the two sides, but there is no actual difference in the color of the pieces. For each turn a player may either move a piece which is already on the board (and potentially promote it, capture an opposing piece, or both) or else « drop » a piece that has already been captured onto an empty square of the board. These options are detailed below.

Professional games are timed as in International Chess, but professionals are never expected to keep time in their games. Instead a timekeeper is assigned, typically an apprentice professional. Time limits are much longer than in International Chess (9 hours a side plus extra time in the prestigious Meijin title match), and in addition byoyomi (literally « second counting ») is employed. This means that when the ordinary time has run out, the player will from that point on have a certain amount of time to complete every move (a byoyomi period), typically upwards of one minute. The final ten seconds are counted down, and if the time expires the player to move loses the game immediately. Amateurs often play with electronic clocks that beep out the final ten seconds of a byoyomi period, with a prolonged beep for the last five.

Movement and capture

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Most shogi pieces can only move to an adjacent square. A few may move across the board, and one jumps over intervening pieces.

Every piece blocks the movement of all other non-jumping pieces through the square it occupies. However, if a piece occupies a legal destination for an opposing piece, it may be captured by removing it from the board and replacing it with the opposing piece. It is not possible for the capturing piece to continue beyond that square on that turn.

It is common to keep captured pieces on a wooden stand (or komadai) which is traditionally placed so that its bottom left corner aligns with the bottom right corner of the board from the perspective of each player. It is not permissible to hide pieces from full view. This is because captured pieces, which are said to be in hand, have a crucial impact on the course of the game.

The knight jumps, that is, it passes over any intervening piece, whether friend or foe, without an effect on either. It is the only piece to do this.

The lance, bishop, and rook are ranging pieces: They can move any number of squares along a straight line limited only by intervening pieces and the edge of the board. If an opposing piece intervenes, it may be captured by removing it from the board and replacing it with the moving piece. If a friendly piece intervenes, the moving piece must stop short of that square; if the friendly piece is adjacent, the moving piece may not move in that direction at all.

All pieces but the knight move either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. These directions cannot be combined into a single move; one direction must be chosen.

Normally when a player moves a piece, he/she snaps it to the board with the ends of the fingers of the same hand. This makes a sudden sound effect, bringing the opponent to the attention of the piece. This is also true for capturing and dropping pieces. On a traditional shogi ban, the pitch of the snap is deeper, delivering a more subtle effect.
[Top page]
A King can move one square in any direction, orthogonal or diagonal.

The king

 
         
  ? ? ?  
  ? ? ?  
  ? ? ?  
         

Rook[Top page]
A rook can move any number of free squares along any one of the four orthogonal directions.

The rook

 
    ¦    
    ¦    
?
    |    
    |    

Bishop[Top page]
A bishop can move any number of free squares along any one of the four diagonal directions.

 

The bishop

 
\       /
  \   /  
    ?    
  /   \  
/       \

Because they cannot move orthogonally, the opposing unpromoted bishops can only reach half the squares of the board, unless they are captured and then dropped by the opposing player.
Gold general[Top page]
A gold general can move one square orthogonally, or one square diagonally forward, giving it six possible destinations. It cannot move diagonally backward.

 

The gold general

 
         
  ? ? ?  
  ? ? ?  
    ?    
         

Silver general[Top page]
A silver general can move one square diagonally or one square directly forward, giving it five possibilities.

 

The silver general

 
         
  ? ? ?  
    ?    
  ?   ?  
         

Because an unpromoted silver can retreat more easily than a promoted one (see below), it is very common to leave a silver unpromoted at the far side of the board.

Knight

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A knight jumps at an angle intermediate between orthogonal and diagonal, amounting to one square forward plus one square diagonally forward, in a single motion. That is, it has a choice of two forward destinations. It cannot move to the sides or backwards.

 

The knight

 
  ?   ?  
         
    ?    
         
         

The knight is the only piece that ignores intervening pieces on the way to its destination. It is not blocked from moving if the square in front of it is occupied, but neither can it capture a piece on that square.

It is often useful to leave a knight unpromoted (see below) at the far side of the board. However, since a knight cannot move backward or to the sides, it must promote when it lands on one of the two far ranks and would otherwise be unable to move further.
Lance[Top page]
A lance can move any number of free squares directly forward. It cannot move backward or to the sides.

 

The lance

 
    ¦    
    ¦    
    ?    
         
         

It is often useful to leave a lance unpromoted (see below) at the far side of the board. However, since a lance cannot move backward or to the sides, it must promote if it arrives at the far rank.
Pawn[Top page]
A pawn can move one square directly forward. It cannot retreat.

 

The pawn

 
         
    ?    
    ?    
         
         

Since a pawn cannot move backward or to the sides, it must promote (see below) if it arrives at the far rank. However, in practice, a pawn is promoted whenever possible, for the most part.

Unlike the pawns of international chess, shogi pawns capture the same way they otherwise move, directly forward.

There are two restrictive rules for where a pawn may be dropped. (See below.)

Promotion

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A player’s promotion zone is the far third of the board, the three ranks occupied by the opposing pieces at setup. If a piece moves across the board and part of that path lies within the promotion zone, that is, if it moves into, out of, or wholly within the zone, but not if it is dropped (see below), then that player may choose to promote the piece at the end of the turn. Promotion is indicated by turning the piece over after it moves, revealing the character for the promoted rank.

If a pawn or lance reaches the far rank or a knight reaches either of the two farthest ranks, it must promote, as it would otherwise have no legal move on subsequent turns. A silver general never needs to promote, and it is often advantageous to keep a silver general unpromoted; it is easier, for example, to extract an unpromoted silver from behind enemy lines, whereas a promoted silver, with only one line of retreat, can be easily blocked.

A player’s promotion zone (green)
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
  ?           ?  
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

When captured, pieces lose their promoted status. Otherwise promotion is permanent.

Promoting a piece has the effect of changing how that piece moves. Each piece promotes as follows:

    • A silver general, knight, lance, or pawn replaces its normal power of movement with the power of a gold general.

 

    • A rook or bishop keeps its original power of movement and gains the power to move one square in any direction, like a king. This means that a promoted bishop is able to reach any square on the board, given enough moves.

 

    • A king or a gold general cannot promote, nor can pieces which are already promoted. This should be clear enough from the game equipment, for each piece has only two sides, and the other sides of the gold and king are blank.

 

Promoted rook[Top page]
A promoted rook (dragon king) may move as a rook or as a king, but not as both on the same turn.

 

The dragon king

 
    ¦    
  ? ¦ ?  
?
  ? ¦ ?  
    ¦    

Promoted bishop[Top page]
A promoted bishop (« dragon horse ») may move as a bishop or as a king, but not as both on the same turn.

 

The dragon horse

 
\       /
  \ ? /  
  ? ? ?  
  / ? \  
/       \

Drops

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Captured pieces are truly captured in shogi. They are retained « in hand », and can be brought back into play under the capturing player’s control. On any turn, instead of moving a piece on the board, a player may take a piece that had been previously captured and place it, unpromoted side up, on any empty square, facing the opposing side. The piece is now part of the forces controlled by that player. This is termed dropping the piece, or just a drop.

A drop cannot capture a piece, nor does dropping within the promotion zone result in immediate promotion. However, either capture or promotion may occur normally on subsequent moves by the piece.

A pawn, knight, or lance may not be dropped on the far rank, since it would have no legal move on subsequent turns. Similarly, a knight may not be dropped on the penultimate rank.

There are two other restrictions when dropping pawns:

    1. A pawn cannot be dropped onto the same file (column) as another unpromoted pawn controlled by the same player (promoted pawns do not count). A player who has an unpromoted pawn on every file is therefore unable to drop a pawn anywhere. For this reason it is common to sacrifice a pawn in order to gain flexibility for drops.

 

    1. A pawn cannot be dropped to give an immediate checkmate. However, other pieces may be dropped to give immediate checkmate, a pawn that is already on the board may be advanced to give checkmate, and a pawn may be dropped so that either it or another piece can give checkmate on a subsequent turn.

 

It is common for players to swap bishops, which oppose each other across the board. This leaves each player with a bishop « in hand » to be dropped later, and gives an advantage to the player with the stronger defensive position.

Checkmate and winning the game

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When a player makes a move such that the opposing king could be captured on the following turn, the move is said to give check to the king; the king is said to be in check. If a player’s king is in check and no legal move by that player will get the king out of check (which is necessary whenever possible [2]), the checking move is also checkmate (tsumi ??) and effectively wins the game. The losing player should resign out of courtesy at this point, although in practice this rarely happens, as a player will concede defeat as soon as loss is inevitable.

To give the warning « check! » in Japanese, one says « ote! » (??). However, this is an influence of international chess and is not required, even as a courtesy.

A player is not allowed to give perpetual check.

In professional and serious amateur games, a player who makes an illegal move loses immediately.

There are two other possible, if uncommon, ways for a game to end: repetition (??? sennichite) and impasse (??? jishogi).

If the same game position occurs four times with the same player to play, the game is considered a draw. (This used to be that it happened if a sequence caused repetition thrice.) [3] For two positions to be considered the same, the pieces in hand must be the same as well as the positions on the board. However, if this occurs with one player giving perpetual check, then that player loses.

The game reaches an impasse if both kings have advanced into their respective promotion zones and neither player can hope to mate the other or to gain any further material. If this happens, the winner is decided as follows: Each rook or bishop scores 5 points for the owning player, and all other pieces except kings score 1 point each. (Promotions are ignored for the purposes of scoring.) A player scoring fewer than 24 points loses. (If neither player has fewer than 24, the game is no contest—a draw.) Jishogi is considered an outcome in its own right rather than no contest, but there is no practical difference.

As this impasse generally needs to be agreed on for the rule to be invoked, a player may refuse to do so, on the grounds that he/she could gain further material or position before an outcome has to be decided. If that happens, one player may force jishogi upon getting his king and all his pieces protected in the promotion zone. [4]

In professional tournaments the rules typically require drawn games to be replayed with colours (sides) reversed, possibly with reduced time limits. This is rare compared to chess and xiangqi, occurring at a rate of 1-2% even in amateur games. The 1982 Meijin title match between Nakahara Makoto and Kato Hifumi was unusual in this regard, with jishogi in the first game (only the fifth draw in the then 40-year history of the tournament), a game which lasted for an unusual 223 moves (not counting in pairs of moves), with an astounding 114 minutes spent pondering a single move, and sennichite in the sixth and eighth games. Thus this best-of-seven match lasted ten games and took over three months to finish; Black did not lose a single game and the eventual victor was Kato at 4-3.

Player ranking and handicaps

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Amateur players are ranked from 15 kyu to 1 kyu and then from 1 dan and upwards; this is the same terminology as many other arts in Japan. Professional players operate with their own scale, from professional 4 dan and upwards to 9 dan for elite players. [5] Amateur and professional ranks are offset (with amateur 4 dan being equivalent to professional 6 kyu). [illustration 2]

Games between players of disparate strengths are often played with handicaps. In a handicap game, one or more of White’s pieces are removed from the setup, and in exchange White plays first. Note that the missing pieces are not available for drops and play no further part in the game. The imbalance created by this method of handicapping is not as strong as it is in international chess because material advantage is not as powerful in shogi.

Common handicaps, in increasing order of severity, include:

    • Left lance

 

    • Bishop
    • Rook
    • Rook and left lance

 

    • Two pieces: Rook and bishop

 

    • Four pieces: Rook, bishop, and both lances

 

    • Six pieces: Rook, bishop, both lances and both knights

 

Other handicaps are also occasionally used. The relationship between handicaps and differences in rank is not universally agreed upon, with several systems in use.

If a jishogi occurs in a handicap game, the removed pieces are counted as if White had them in play, or available for drops. [6]

Game notation

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The method used in English-language texts to express shogi moves was established by George Hodges in 1976. It is derived from the algebraic notation used for chess, but differs in several respects. It is not used in Japanese-language texts, as it is no more concise than kanji.

A typical move might be notated P-8f. The first letter represents the piece moved: P for Pawn. (There is also L lance, N knight, S silver, G gold, B bishop, R rook, K king, as above.) Promoted pieces are indicated by a + in front of the letter: +P is a tokin (promoted pawn).

Following the abbreviation for the piece is a symbol for the type of move: for a simple move, x for a capture, or * for a drop. Next is the square on which the piece lands. This is indicated by a numeral for the file and a lowercase letter for the rank, with 1a being the top right corner (as seen by Black) and 9i being the bottom left corner. This is based on Japanese convention, which, however, uses Japanese numerals instead of letters. For example, square 2c is « 2? » in Japanese.

If a move entitles the player to promote, then a + is added to the end if the promotion was taken, or an = if it was declined. For example, Nx7c= indicates a knight capturing on 7c without promoting.

In cases where the piece is ambiguous, the starting square is added to the letter for the piece. For example, at setup Black has two golds which can move to square 5h (in front of the king). These are distinguished as G6i-5h (from the left) and G4i-5h (from the right).

Moves are numbered per player’s move, unlike chess which counts each pair of moves as one move. For example, the start of a game might look like this:

    1. P-7f   2. P-3d
     3. P-2f   4. G-3b
     5. P-2e   6. Bx8h+
     7. Sx8h   8. S-2b

In handicap games White plays first, so Black’s move 1 is replaced by an ellipsis.

Strategy and tactics

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Main article: Shogi strategy and tactics

Shogi is similar to chess but has a much larger game tree complexity because of the use of drops. [7] However, like chess, the game can be divided into the opening, middle game and endgame, each requiring a different strategy. The opening consists of arranging one’s defenses and positioning for attack, the mid game consists of attempting to break through the opposing defenses while maintaining one’s own, and the end game starts when one side’s defenses have been compromised.

History

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Main article: History of shogi

« The world’s first chess variant Chaturanga arose in India in approximately the seventh century AD. From there it migrated both westward and northward, mutating along the way. » [1] « The western branch became Shatranj in Arabia and Orthodox Chess in Europe. The northern branch became Xiangqi in China and Changgi in Korea. » [1] « Sometime in the 10th to 12th centuries, ‘chess’ crossed the channel to Japan where it spawned a number of interesting variants. » [1] « One of these was called ‘Small Shogi’. » [1] « Eventually, Small Shogi (though it went through many forms) won out over the larger variants and is now referred to simply as ‘Shogi’. » [1] « It is certain that Shogi in its present form was played in Japan as early as the 16th century. » [1]

It is not clear when chess was brought to Japan. The earliest generally accepted mention of shogi is Shin Saru Gakuki (???? ?) (1058–1064) by Fujiwara Akihira. The oldest archaeological evidence is a group of 16 shogi pieces excavated from the grounds of Kofuku-ji in Nara Prefecture. As it was physically associated with a wooden tablet written on in the sixth year of Tenki (1058), the pieces are thought to date from that period. These simple pieces were cut from a writing plaque in the same five-sided shape as modern pieces, with the names of the pieces written on them.

The dictionary of common folk culture, Nichureki (??? ?) (ca. 1210–1221), a collection based on the two works Shochureki (??? ?) and Kaichureki (??? ?), describes two forms of shogi, large (dai) shogi and small (sho) shogi. These are now called Heian shogi (or Heian small shogi) and Heian dai shogi. Heian small shogi is the version on which modern shogi is based, but the Nichureki states that one wins if one’s opponent is reduced to a single king, indicating that drops had not yet been introduced. According to Koji Shimizu, chief researcher at the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, the names of the Heian shogi pieces keep those of chaturanga (general, elephant, horse, chariot and soldier), and add to them the five treasures of Buddhism (jade, gold, silver, katsura tree, and incense).

Around the 13th century the game of dai shogi developed, created by increasing the number of pieces in Heian shogi, as was sho shogi, which added the rook, bishop, and drunken elephant from dai shogi to Heian shogi. Around the 15th century, the rules of dai shogi were simplified, creating the game of chu shogi in a form close to the modern game. It is thought that the rules of standard shogi were fixed in the 16th century, when the drunken elephant was removed from the set of pieces. However, there is no clear record of when drops were introduced.

In the Edo period, shogi variants were greatly expanded: tenjiku shogi, dai dai shogi, maka dai dai shogi, tai shogi, and taikyoku shogi were all invented. However, it is thought that these were only played to a very limited extent. Both standard shogi and go were promoted by the Tokugawa shogunate. In 1612, the shogunate passed a law giving endowments to top shogi players ( Meijin (?? ?)). During the reign of the eighth shogun, Tokugawa Yoshimune, castle shogi tournaments were held once a year on the 17th day of Kannazuki, corresponding to November 17, which is Shogi Day on the modern calendar.

The title of meijin became hereditary in the Ohashi and Ito families until the fall of the shogunate, when it came to be passed by recommendation. Today the title is used for the winner of the Meijin-sen competition, the first modern title match. From around 1899, newspapers began to publish records of shogi matches, and high-ranking players formed alliances with the aim of having their games published. In 1909, the Shogi Association (????? ?) was formed, and in 1924, the Tokyo Shogi Association (??????? ?) was formed. This was an early incarnation of the modern Japan Shogi Association (?????? ?), founded in 1997.

In 1935, meijin Sekine Kinjiro stepped down, and the rank of meijin came to be awarded to the winner of a Meijin title match (??? meijin-sen ?). Yoshio Kimura (???? ?) became the first Meijin under this system in 1937. This was the start of the shogi title matches (see titleholder system). After the war other tournaments were promoted to title matches, culminating with the Ryuo title match (??? ryuo-sen ?) in 1988 for the modern line-up of seven. About 200 professional shogi players compete. Each year, the title holder defends the title against a challenger chosen from knockout or round matches.

The closest cousin of Shogi in the Chaturanga family is Makruk of Thailand. Not only the similarity in distribution and movements of the pieces but also the names of Shogi pieces suggest intimacy between Shogi and Makruk by its Buddhist symbolism (Gold, Silver, Cassia and Incense),[ dubious – discuss] which isn’t recognised in Chinese chess at all. In fact, Chinese chess and its East Asian variants are far remoter relatives than Makruk. Though some early variants of Chaturanga more similar to Shogi and Makruk are known to have been played in Tang Dynasty China, they are thought to have been extinguished in Song Dynasty China and in East Asia except in Japan probably owing to the popularity of Chinese chess.

Tournament Play

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In 1996, Yoshiharu Habu won all seven titles; in 2008 he held four. In 2006, the Shogi Association admitted women to the ranks of professionals (??? ?).

Since the 1990s, shogi has grown in popularity outside Japan, particularly in the People’s Republic of China, and especially Shanghai. The January 2006 edition of Kindai Shogi (???? ?) states that there are 120,000 shogi players in Shanghai. The game has been relatively slow to spread to countries where Chinese characters are not in common use.

v · d · eProfessional shogi title tournaments
 
Meijin (?? ?) · Ryu-oh (Ryuo ?? ?) · Kisei (?? ?) · Oi (Oi ?? ?) · Oza (Oza ?? ?) · Kioh (Kio ?? ?) · Osho (Osho ?? ?)

Computer shogi

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Main article: Computer shogi

Shogi has the highest game complexity of all popular chess variants. Therefore, Shogi is the hardest of the popular chess variants in terms of programming the computer to beat the highest rated player. Computers have steadily improved in playing shogi since the 1970s. In 2007, champion Yoshiharu Habu estimated the strength of the 2006 world computer shogi champion Bonanza at the level of 2-dan shoreikai. Tools used by shogi programmers are the GUI Shogidokoro, shogi server Floodgate and the annual computer tournaments. The Japan Shogi Association prohibits professionals from playing computers in public without prior permission. After some 35 years of development, a computer finally beat a professional player on October 12, 2010, when the top ranked female champion Ichiyo Shimizu was beaten by the Akara2010 system in a game lasting just over 6 hours. [8]

Shogi video games

[Top page]
Hundreds of video games were released exclusively in Japan for several consoles.

Main article: List of shogi video games

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