Men in an Ürümqi neighborhood playing Xinjiang Fāngqí (新疆方棋)
Abstract strategy game
|Setup time||< 1 minute|
|Playing time||< 1 hour|
|Skill(s) required||Strategy, tactics|
Game of squares
Square game (Chinese: 方棋; pinyin: fāngqí; also known as Chinese: 丢方; pinyin: diūfāng; and Chinese: 下方; pinyin: xiàfāng) is a strategy board game played traditionally in the northwestern regions of China, especially Ningxia, Gansu, Shaanxi, Qinghai, Xinjiang, and other areas with a high concentration of Chinese Muslims. The game is also played by Dungans, who have brought the game with them to Central Asian countries such as Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
The game is similar in concept to Nine Men's Morris: Players alternate turns placing stones until the board has been filled, attempting to form 1×1 squares with their pieces. After the board has been filled, players each remove one of their opponent's stones. Each player then counts up the squares he/she has formed and removes an equal number of the opponent's pieces, as long as those pieces are not part of a square. After the removal of pieces, players alternate turns moving pieces; pieces can move any distance along the grid vertically or horizontally. Each time a player forms a square, the player can remove one of the opponent's pieces (again, as long as the piece is not part of an existing square). The player who removes all of the opponent's pieces is the winner.
Playing equipment 
The game can be played on any 7×8 board using black or white Go stones, or even on the intersections of a chessboard. The game is popular in agricultural communities in northwestern China, and often played on a board traced out on the ground.
Xinjiang Fāngqí is played on a 7×7 board. Because this leads to an odd number of playing points (49) the first player has an advantage. Thus, the second player is allowed to remove one more piece from his/her opponent during the initial removal of pieces.
Other variants of the game allow encirclement of pieces, as in Go. Still other variants disallow certain moves, for example, forming a square in the same way repeatedly (similar to the ko rule in Go).
Because of the game's popularity among country folk in rural areas, there are a great many variants of the game, each local to a specific area.