Square game

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Square game (方棋)
Men in an Ürümqi neighborhood playing Xinjiang Fāngqí (新疆方棋)
Genre(s) Board game
Abstract strategy game
Players 2
Age range Any
Setup time < 1 minute
Playing time < 1 hour
Random chance None
Skill(s) required Strategy, tactics
Synonym(s) Fangqi / Game of squares
Square chess
Xia fang / Playing 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.


In Ningxia, the game is played on a 7×8 gridded board using black and white Go stones, 28 stones per player. The game is popular in agricultural communities in northwestern China, and often played on a board traced out on the ground.


The pieces are played on the points, the same as in Go. The game is similar in concept to Nine Men's Morris:

  1. Players alternate turns placing stones, attempting to form 2×2 squares, until the board has been filled.
  2. Each player removes one of their opponent's stones.
  3. Each player counts up the squares he/she has formed and removes an equal number of the opponent's stones, as long as those pieces are not part of a square.
  4. Players alternate turns moving stones; pieces can move any distance vertically or horizontally along the grid. Each time a player forms a square, the player removes one of the opponent's stones (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.


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 in rural areas, there are many variants of the game, each local to a specific area.


  • Olli Salmi (25 April 2006). "Diu fang". www.uusikaupunki.fi. Retrieved 2014-05-11.  (English)

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