Shogi, The General’s Board Game – Board and Gameplay
In our previous posts about shogi, we learned its history and the pieces that make the game. In this post, we will learn more about the moves of each piece.
Shogi Game Setup
Each player sets up his pieces facing forward (toward his opponent).
In the rank/line nearest the player:
- the king is placed in the center file;
- the two gold generals are placed in files adjacent 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.
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 per file.
Traditionally, even the order of placing the pieces on the board is determined. There are two commonly used orders, Ohashi and Ito. Placement sets pieces with multiples (generals, knights, lances) from left to right in all cases, and follows the order: king, gold generals, silver generals, knights. In ito, the player now places: pawns (left to right starting from the leftmost file), lances, bishop, and rook. In ohashi, the player places first the lances, bishop, rook, and then the pawns (starting from center file, then alternating left to right one file at a time).
One player takes Black and moves first; then players alternate turns. (The terms “Black” and “White” are used to differentiate sides although there is no difference in the color of the pieces.) For each turn a player may either move a piece that is currently on the board (and potentially promote it, capture an opposing piece, or both) or else “drop” a piece that has been previously captured onto an empty square of the board.
Shogi Pieces Movements
Like the chess, each different piece has its own movement.
King – Can move one space in any direction.
Rook – Can move any number of spaces horizontally or vertically. When promoted, can also move one space diagonally.
Bishop – Can move any number of spaces diagonally. When promoted, can also move one space horizontally.
Gold General – Moves one space, but not backwards diagonal.
Silver General – Can’t move sideways or backwards. Becomes a Gold General upon promotion.
Knight – Moves like a knight in chess, but only in a forward direction. Becomes a Gold General upon promotion.
Lance – Can only move forward. Becomes a Gold General upon promotion.
Pawn – Can only move one step forward. Becomes a Gold General upon promotion.
Normally when moving a piece, a player snaps it to the board with the ends of the fingers of the same hand. This makes a sudden sound effect, bringing the piece to the attention of the opponent. This is also true for capturing and dropping pieces. On a traditional shogi-ban, the pitch of the snap is deeper, delivering a subtler effect.
As you noticed, a piece’s move can be altered through promotion. What is promotion?
A player’s promotion zone consists of the furthest one-third of the board – the three ranks occupied by the opponent’s pieces at setup. When a piece is moved, if part of the piece’s path lies within the promotion zone, then the player has the option to promote the piece at the end of the turn. Promotion is indicated by turning the piece over after it moves, revealing the character of the promoted piece.
If a pawn or lance is moved to the furthest rank, or a knight is moved to either of the two furthest ranks, that piece must promote (otherwise, it would have no legal move on subsequent turns). A silver general is never required to promote.
We’ll discuss more of shogi terms in our next post!
1. Shogi. Wikipedia.
2. Images from Wikimedia Commons.
The Japanese language is a very beautiful and fun language. On the contrary though, it’s also a very difficult language for non-native speakers. A word in English can have many translations in Japanese depending on the context. Wrong pronunciation of a certain Japanese word can also mean another non-related word. A fun way to learn […]
Happy New Year! Everything you do in the first days of the New Year can mean something or will affect the whole year. Hatsu or “first” of something are important according to Japanese culture: the first shrine visit, first dreams, and the first sunrise have impacts on how your year will turn out. The following […]
As the concept of kendo states that kendo is to discipline the human character through the application of the principle of the katana, there are kendo rules and regulations followed in a match (or in Japanese 試合, shiai). Kendo Match Rules A kendo match is herein defined as a contest between two contestants for a […]
Last time, we talked about the sly kitsune or the Japanese fox. In this post, we will feature another animal that is popular in Japanese legends and myths and just like the kitsune, is sometimes depicted as a trickster, the tanuki or the Japanese raccoon dog. Tanuki, Not Your Ordinary Raccoon Though they look like […]
The game of ‘Go’ has its origin in China 4,000 years ago. It is more than 1,300 years since ‘Go’ was introduced to Japan. During these centuries, the ancient Chinese form of ‘Go’ has been modified and improved by the Japanese. ‘Go’ as it is played today is an indoor game which has no further […]
Japanese people love outdoor activities. During weekends or holidays, they will surely find ways to enjoy hanging out with their family or with friends. They usually go out for a picnic, barbecue party, camping and other sort of fun things to enjoy. Japanese also gather to celebrate the important events held within the country. The […]
As what we know from our previous posts about holidays in Japan, almost every month in Japan has a national holiday. November is not an exception of that. There are two holidays for the month of November and those are the Culture Day or 文化の日 (Bunka no Hi) on November 3 and Labor Thanksgiving Day […]
Muramasa (2) Blessed swords for hostile forces against Tokugawa If “Muramasa” blades really harm the Tokugawa, they are very fortunate weapons for enemies. Nobushige Sanada (1567 – 1615), much more commonly known as Yukimura Sanada, who was against the Tokugawa, is said that he carried “Muramasa” sword(s) with him. There is also a legend that […]
As kids, we all played games and while living in Japan I wondered what sort of games do kids here play. Were the games they played similar to the games I used to play growing up back home? Do they also roll over the dirt, enjoy playing catch or maybe play hide and seek? Or […]
Bizen country, its main area was southern part of the present Okayama prefecture, was very famous for swordsmithing. It’s also famous for pottery called “Bizen-yaki”, but in this post, I’m going to focus on swordsmithing only. Swordsmiths in Bizen There were a great number of swordsmiths in Bizen. According to several websites, it seems […]