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Shogi (Japanese chess) – complete game rules, history

Shogi Rules
A 9 by 9 board is used. Cells are numbered from right to left, as well as from top to bottom. Each cell is rectangular in shape, is not indicated in any way, the cells are not divided into colors. Before the game, in the “upper” cells, white pieces are arranged in 3 rows, and in the “lower” cells, black pieces in the same order. The figures have the appearance of 5-coal-colored plates with hieroglyphs. “Black” and “white” are only verbal designations of the playing sides, the pieces themselves have one color and their affiliation is determined by the direction of the acute angle of the piece. Each piece is set with the sharp side to the opponent. Each player has at his disposal 20 pieces belonging to 8 types, which differ in value, strength and moves.

The player has the following set of pieces: 1 king, 1 rook, 1 elephant, 2 gold generals and 2 silver generals, 2 knights, 2 spears, 9 pawns. In the last row, horses stand near the spears, silver generals stand near the horses, and gold generals stand next to them. In the central cell between the gold generals is the king. In the 2nd row there are only 2 figures. To the left of the horse is an elephant. To the right is a rook in front of the horse. The 3rd row is completely occupied by 9 pawns.

General order
Players take turns making one move. The first move is made by the player playing black pieces. A move is a player moving one of his pieces from the number currently available on the game board to an allowed field in accordance with the rules for moving pieces or setting (resetting) a piece in reserve. “In reserve” (or also “in hand”) are the figures that were taken (shot down) from the opponent.

When the figure reaches the special zone (camp of the opponent), it can be strengthened (turned), then the figure is turned over. This way you can strengthen any figure, with the exception of the gold generals and the king.

The goal of the shogi game is to checkmate the opponent’s king. The checkmate is put when the king is hit by an opponent’s piece, being in a field into which the enemy piece can make a move, without being able to defend or leave.

How do the pieces go
Each figure has hieroglyphs on both sides, only the king and the gold generals are marked with hieroglyphs on one side.

King (in Japanese – Osho or Gyoku) – goes to 1 field in any of the directions, except for the field under the opponent’s check, similar to the chess king. A check is a position in which the king is hit by an opponent’s piece – in a field where the opponent’s piece can make a move.

Golden General (Kin) – walks 1 field vertically or horizontally to either side and diagonally forward.

Silver General (Gin) – walks 1 field diagonally in all directions or 1 field forward vertically. After reaching the camp, the enemy can become a gold general.

Horse (Kay) – moves with the letter G, like a chess horse, however, unlike the latter – only forward, can not retreat. The knight’s move thus represents 1 field forward vertically, then 1 field to the right or left diagonally. A horse is the only figure in shogi capable of jumping over other figures standing in her way. Upon reaching the enemy camp can become a gold general.

Spear (Kyo) – walks exclusively vertically forward to any number of fields that are not occupied by other figures, and does not go back. Upon reaching the enemy camp can become a gold general.

Pawn (Fu) – moves vertically 1 field forward. He strikes the opponent’s pieces not obliquely, unlike chess, but in front of him. Upon reaching the enemy camp can become a gold general.

Rook (Khisya) – walks on any number of fields that are not occupied by other pieces, both vertically and horizontally (as well as a chess rook). Upon reaching the enemy’s camp, it can become a dragon king – a figure that retains the capabilities of a rook and is also able to additionally go to 1 field diagonally in all directions.

Elephant (Kaku) – walks on any number of fields that are not occupied by other pieces, diagonally (just like a chess elephant). Upon reaching the enemy’s camp, it can become a dragon horse – this is a figure that preserves the elephant’s capabilities and is additionally able to make a move on 1 field horizontally or vertically in all directions.

Value of figures
Regular chess players use the well-known formula for the value of chess pieces. The unit of measure is a pawn. The elephant and the horse are valued at 3 pawns, the rook at 5, the queen at 9 pawns. Although in chess a material advantage is an important strategic goal, in shogi this component is not so important.

When exchanging it is always necessary to take into account the current situation in the game. The strength of the figures largely depends on the king’s security, tactical capabilities, and the strategic pattern of the game. The ambiguous value of the figures in shogi is expressed by some proverbs about this game: “1 pawn is more valuable than 1000 gold generals” and “speed at the end of the game is more important than material”.

Nevertheless, material correlation is also an important criterion for evaluating a position.

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