Shogi, the Japanese chess, is a two-player board game. While its earliest forms dates back to thousands of years, it originally comes from the game of chaturanga which was played in India and China. Eventually, the shogi has started to be played in today’s format of modern shogi since 15th century onwards.

Pieces and moves

The shogi is played with 20 pieces for each player on a 9*9 board. Each square on the rectangular board is of the same colour. Further, all the pieces are of the same colour and the direction of the Chinese characters on the each piece determines which pieces belong to whom. The pieces and their moves are as follows:

  • 1 king: Same rules for the king of modern chess apply. Just one square to any neighbour square. Yet, contrary to chess, there is no rule to warn the opponent to say “Check” or “Checkmate”. So, you need to be careful yourself.
  • 1 rook: The rook moves towards left, right, forward and backward as far as it goes without jumping over other pieces.
  • 1 bishop: It moves diagonally as far as it can but it is not possible to leap over other pieces. Same as chess.
  • 2 gold generals: They move one square in any direction except for diagonally backwards.
  • 2 silver generals: They move one square diagonally and one square forward. So, no move to left, right or backward is possible.
  • 2 knights: Same rules apply to knights with the restriction of moving back. That is to say, you can make “L” shapes and leap over other pieces only forward and not allowed to do it backward.
  • 2 lances: A lance moves straight forward as many squares as possible without jumping over any pieces.
  • 9 pawns: Just one move to forward and it is not possible to make any other move to do any course of action at any condition.

The pieces are positioned on the board as follows: Please not that the original pieces are lot shown as in the figure.

Source: http://hgm.nubati.net/rules/Shogi.html


  • The main objective is to win the game by checkmating the other player.
  • Any piece except for gold general and king can promote by reaching to the promoting zone of the opponent, which is the first three lines where the pieces are positioned at the beginning of the game.  The rook and bishop get moves of the king in addition to keeping their old moves. All other pieces promotes to gold general. The promotion is performed by turning the other side of the piece. It is not possible to reverse the promotion and give away the new movement capabilities.
  • The opponent’s pieces can be captured by moving one the pieces to the square where the one of the opponent’s pieces exists.
  • Pieces captured are kept in hand by the player who captures them. If one player have a piece in hand, (s)he can drop it whenever (s)he wants instead of playing with the pieces existing on the board.
  • The piece captured can only be used with original movement capabilities even if they are promoted by the opponent before the capture.
  • Pieces cannot be moved or dropped to a location where all their moves would go off board.

These are the basic principles of the Shogi game. If you are interested in the tactics for excelling in this peculiar game and further learn the details of the it, you can check https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pkz0LVBg0W4.

Thanks in advance for sharing this article and disseminating the knowledge.

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