Tai shogi

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Tai shogi (泰将棋 tai shōgi or 無上泰将棋 mujō tai shōgi "grand chess", renamed from 無上大将棋 mujō dai shōgi "supreme chess" to avoid confusion with 大将棋 dai shōgi) is a large-board variant of shogi (Japanese chess). The game dates to the 15th century and is based on earlier large-board shogi games. Before the discovery of taikyoku shogi in 1997, tai shogi was believed to be the largest playable chess variant, if not board game, ever. One game may be played over several long sessions and require each player to make over a thousand moves. It was never a popular game; indeed, a single production of half a dozen game sets in the early 17th century was a notable event.

Like other large-board variants, but unlike standard shogi, the game is played without drops, and uses a promotion-by-capture rule.

Rules of the game[edit]

Tai shogi is very similar to other large-board shogi variants: dai dai shogi, maka dai dai shogi, and tenjiku shogi. Where the same pieces are found, they move the same way. The only difference is in how these pieces promote, which is distinct for each shogi variant. The one variant which is an exception to this generalization is the largest, taikyoku shogi, where the moves differ as well.

Objective[edit]

The objective of the game is to capture the opponent's emperor and crown prince (or princes). When the last of these is captured, the game ends. There are no rules for check or checkmate; however, in practice a player resigns when checkmated.

Game equipment[edit]

Two players, Black and White (or 先手 sente and 後手 gote), play on a board ruled into a grid of 25 ranks (rows) and 25 files (columns), for a total of 625 squares. The squares are undifferentiated by marking or color.

Each player has a set of 177 wedge-shaped pieces of 93 types. In all, the players must remember 99 moves for these pieces. The pieces are of slightly different sizes. From largest to smallest (or roughly most to least powerful) they are:

Several of the English names were chosen to correspond to rough equivalents in Western chess, rather than as translations of the Japanese names.

Each piece has its name in the form of two kanji written on its face. On the reverse side of some pieces are one or two other characters, often in a different color (commonly red instead of black); this reverse side is turned up to indicate that the piece has been promoted during play. The pieces of the two sides do not differ in color, but instead each piece is shaped like a wedge, and faces forward, toward the opposing side. This shows who controls the piece during play.

Table of pieces[edit]

Listed here are the pieces of the game and, if they promote, which pieces they promote to.

Piece (*promoted piece only) Kanji Rōmaji Promotes to ("G" = gold general)
Emperor (自在)天王 (jizai) tennō
Crown prince 太子 taishi
Hook mover 鉤行 kōgyō G
Long-nosed goblin 天狗 tengu G
Capricorn *摩𩹄(羯) makatsu G
Peacock 孔雀 kujaku G
Soaring eagle 飛鷲 hijū G
Horned falcon 角鷹 kakuō G
Free king 奔王 honnō
Rushing bird 行鳥†† gyōchō free demon [or G?]††
Free demon (oni) 奔鬼 honki G
Free dream-eater (baku) 奔獏 honbaku G
Water buffalo 水牛 suigyū free dream-eater
Flying ox 飛牛 higyū G
Soldier 兵士 heishi G
Dragon king 龍王 ryūō
Dragon horse 龍馬 ryūme
Lion 獅子 shishi furious fiend
*Furious fiend 奮迅 funjin
Side chariot 走車 sōsha G
Rook 飛車 hisha G
Bishop 角行 kakugyō G
White horse 白駒 hokku G
Whale 鯨鯢 keigei G
Standard bearer 前旗 zenki G
Vermillion sparrow 朱雀 suzaku G
Turtle-snake 玄武 genbu G
Blue dragon 青龍 seiryū G
White tiger 白虎 byakko G
Right chariot 右車 usha G
Left chariot 左車 sasha G
Side dragon 横龍 ōryū G
Dove 鳩槃 kyūhan G
She-devil 夜叉 yasha G
Golden bird 金翅 kinshi G
Great dragon 大龍 dairyū G
White elephant 白象 hakuzō G
Lion dog 狛犬 komainu G [or great elephant?]
*Great elephant 大象 taizō — [not used?]
Wrestler 力士 rikishi G
Guardian of the Gods 金剛 kongō G
Buddhist devil 羅刹 rasetsu G
Golden deer 金鹿 konroku G
Silver hare 銀兎 ginto G
Fierce eagle 猛鷲 mōjū G
Old kite 古鵄 kotetsu long-nosed goblin
Violent ox 猛牛 mōgyū G
Flying dragon 飛龍 hiryū G
Old rat 老鼠 rōso bat
*Bat 蝙蝠 kōmori
Enchanted badger 変狸 henri dove
Flying horse 馬麟 barin free king
Prancing stag 踊鹿 yōroku square mover
*Square mover 方行 hōgyō
Violent bear 猛熊 mōyū G
Side mover 横行 ōgyō G
Vertical mover 竪行 shugyō G
Reverse chariot 反車 hensha G
Phoenix 鳳凰 hōō golden bird
Kirin 麒麟 kirin great dragon
Poisonous snake 毒蛇 dokuja hook mover
Northern barbarian 北狄 hokuteki fragrant elephant [or G?]**
*Fragrant elephant 香象 kōzō — [not used?]**
Southern barbarian 南蛮 nanban white elephant [or G?]**
Eastern barbarian 東夷 tōi lion
Western barbarian 西戎 seijū lion dog
Blind bear 盲熊 mōyū 奔熊 honyū Free bear
Drunken elephant 醉象 suizō crown prince
Neighboring king 近王 kinnō standard bearer
Blind tiger 盲虎 mōko 奔虎 honko Free tiger ※
Blind monkey 盲猿 mōen G
Ferocious leopard 猛豹 mōhyō 奔豹 honpyō Free leopard ※
Reclining dragon 臥龍 garyū 奔龍 honryū Free dragon ※
Chinese cock 淮鶏 waikei wizard stork
*Wizard stork *仙鶴 senkaku
Old monkey 古猿 koen mountain witch
*Mountain witch 山母 sambo
Evil wolf 悪狼 akurō 奔狼 honrō Free wolf ※
Angry boar 嗔猪 shincho 奔猪 honcho Free boar
Cat sword 猫刄 myōjin 奔猫 honmyō Free cat ※
Coiled serpent 蟠蛇 banja 奔蛇 honja Free snake ※
Deva 提婆 daiba teaching king
*Teaching king 教王 kyōō
Dark spirit 無明 mumyō Buddhist spirit
*Buddhist spirit 法性 hōsei
Right general 右将 ushō G
Left general 左将 sashō G
Gold general 金将 kinshō 奔金 honkin Free gold ※
Silver general 銀将 ginshō 奔銀 hongin Free silver ※
Copper general 銅将 dōshō 奔銅 hondō Free copper ※
Tile general 瓦将 gashō 奔瓦 honga Free tile ※
Iron general 鉄将 tesshō 奔鉄 hontetsu Free iron ※
Wood general 木将 mokushō G
Stone general 石将 sekishō 奔石 honseki Free stone ※
Earth general 土将 doshō 奔土 hondo Free earth ※
Go-between 仲人 chūnin 奔人 honnin Free go-between ※
Knight 桂馬 keima G
Howling dog *𠵇(奇)犬 kiken G
Donkey 驢馬 roba G
Ram’s-head soldier 羊兵 yōhei G
Lance 香車 kyōsha G
Pawn 歩兵 fuhyō G
※ "Free" pieces move like their unpromoted namesakes, except that their range is unlimited. For example, a "free king" moves like a queen, a "free cat" like a bishop. (The free bear and free boar are exceptions.)
* The first kanji in 'howling' dog, 𠵇[1], is not supported by many fonts, and so is created here with the help of an ad hoc superscript . Likewise, the second character in 'Capricorn' should be composed of 魚+曷 (𩹄[2]), and the second character in 'wizard stork' should be 而 atop 鷦 (?).
** The fragrant and white elephants are the promotions in dai dai shogi and, in Steve Evans' Shogi Variants software, for tai shogi as well. (See link below.) The Japanese Wikipedia articles are confused. One states that both the northern and southern barbarians demote to gold. A second states that the northern demotes to gold and the southern promotes to white elephant. The fragrant elephant article states that this piece occurs in tai shogi, but provides no piece to promote into it.
In Evans' software, this promotes to a great elephant. However, while Japanese Wikipedia states that this promotion occurs in other large-board shogi variants, it says that it demote to gold in tai shogi.
There is some confusion in the Japanese Wikipedia articles over which monkey promotes to mountain witch and which promotes to gold. One article, and the internal pattern of promotions, suggests the choice we have here. The individual game-piece articles claim both promote to mountain witch, but this would be unusual, as no other two pieces share a promotion other than the ubiquitous gold. Evans' software has the opposite promotions to those shown here.
†† The 行鳥 rushing bird is also called the 行馬 gyōme 'rushing horse' in Japanese, especially in older sources. This may be a scribal error. The Japanese Wikipedia articles do not agree on its promotion.

Setup[edit]

Below is a diagram showing the setup of one player's pieces. The way one player sees their own pieces is the same way the opposing player will see their pieces.

Board layout
                                                 
              GB                   GB              
P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P
HD FH EN DO FO SM VM VB SB PR AB EW LD EW AB PR SB VB VM SM FO DO EN FH HD
LC BD WO EA SG T I C OR CO RD CA DE HM RD CO OR C I T SG EA WO VS RC
SO WB FL WS EB CC HF OM OK PC GD KR LN PH GO PC RB OM HF CC SU NB FL WB SO
SC WH RS VO CS BB SV GL BM BT BU WR NK GG SD BT BM GL SV BB CS VO RS WH SC
RV SI SE N PS FT B FE WE FR S LG CP RG S FR WE FE B FT PS N SE SI RV
L TS W FD LO D R DH DK FK G DV E DS G FK DK DH R D LO FD W WT L
Legend
AB - Angry Boar B - Bishop BB - Blind Bear BD - Blue Dragon
BU - Buddhist Devil BM - Blind Monkey BT - Blind Tiger C - Copp. General
CA - Capricorn CC - Chinese Cock CO - Coiled Serpent CP - Crown Prince
CS - Cat Sword D - Dove DE - Drunken Elephant DH - Dragon Horse
DK - Dragon King DO - Donkey DS - Dark Spirit DV - Deva
E - Emperor EA - Earth General EB - Eastern Barbarian EN - Enchanted Badger
EW - Evil Wolf FD - Flying Dragon FE - Fierce Eagle FH - Flying Horse
FK - Free King FL - Fer. Leopard FO - Flying Ox FR - Free Demon
FT - Free Dream-Eater G - Gold General GB - Go Between GD - Great Dragon
GG - Guardian of the Gods GL - Golden Deer GO - Golden Bird HD - Howling Dog
HF - Horned Falcon HM - Hook Mover I - Iron General KR - Kirin
L - Lance LC - Left Chariot LD - Lion Dog LG - Left General
LN - Lion LO - Long-nosed Goblin N - Knight NB - Northern Barbarian
NK - Neighbor King OK - Old Kite OM - Old Monkey OR - Old Rat
P - Pawn PC - Peacock PH - Phoenix PR - Prancing Stag
PS - Poison Snake R - Rook RB - Rushing Bird RC - Right Chariot
RD - Reclining Dragon RG - Right General RS - Ram’s-head Soldier RV - Reverse Chariot
S - Silver General SB - Standard Bearer SC - Side Chariot SD - She-devil
SE - Soaring Eagle SG - Stone General SI - Side Dragon SM - Side Mover
SO - Soldier SU - Southern Barbarian SV - Silver Hare T - Tile General
TS - Turtle-snake VB - Violent Bear VM - Vert. Mover VO - Violent Ox
VS - Vermillion Sparrow W - Whale WB - Water Buffalo WE - White Elephant
WH - White Horse WO - Wood General WR - Wrestler WS - Western Barbarian
WT - White Tiger      

Game play[edit]

The players alternate making a move, with Black moving first. (The traditional terms 'black' and 'white' are used to differentiate the sides during discussion of the game, but are no longer literally descriptive.) A move consists of moving a single piece on the board and potentially promoting that piece or displacing (capturing) an opposing piece. Each of these options is detailed below.

Movement and capture[edit]

When the same piece occurs in tai shogi and maka dai dai shogi, it moves and promotes the same way in both. The only exception is the (crown) prince, and the only difference there is its name.

An opposing piece is captured by displacement: That is, if a piece moves to a square occupied by an opposing piece, the opposing piece is displaced and removed from the board. A piece cannot move to a square occupied by a friendly piece (meaning another piece controlled by the moving player).

Each piece on the game moves in a characteristic pattern. Pieces move either orthogonally (that is, forward, backward, left, or right, in the direction of one of the arms of a plus sign, +), or diagonally (in the direction of one of the arms of a multiplication sign, ×). The emperor, lion, and knight are exceptions at the beginning of the game, in that they do not move, or are not required to move, in a straight line. (The Buddhist spirit and furious fiend are similar, but they only appear as pieces promote.)

If a piece that cannot retreat or move aside advances across the board until it can no longer move, it must remain there until captured. This applies to the pawn, lance, ram’s-head soldier, stone general, wood general, and iron general upon reaching the farthest rank, and to the knight upon reaching either of the two farthest ranks.

Many pieces are capable of several kinds of movement, with the type of movement most often depending on the direction in which they move. The movement categories are:

Step movers[edit]

Some pieces move only one square at a time. (If a friendly piece occupies an adjacent square, the moving piece may not move in that direction; if an opposing piece is there, it may be displaced and captured.)

The step movers are the crown prince, drunk elephant, neighbor king, blind tiger, blind monkey, ferocious leopard, reclining dragon, Chinese cock, old monkey, evil wolf, the generals (except the wood general), angry boar, cat sword, coiled serpent, deva, dark spirit, go between, and the 25 pawns on each side.

Limited ranging pieces[edit]

Some pieces can move along a limited number (2, 3, or 5) of free (empty) squares along a straight line in certain directions. Other than the limited distance, they move like ranging pieces (see below).

These pieces are the water buffalo, standard bearer, vermillion sparrow, turtle-snake, blue dragon, white tiger, dove, she-devil, golden bird, great dragon, white elephant, lion dog, wrestler, Guardian of the Gods, Buddhist devil, golden deer, silver hare, fierce eagle, old kite, violent ox, flying dragon, old rat, enchanted badger, flying horse, prancing stag, violent bear, the barbarians, and the wood general.

Jumping pieces[edit]

Several pieces can jump, that is, they can pass over any intervening piece, whether friend or foe, with no effect on either. These are the lion, kirin, phoenix, poison snake, donkey, and knight.

Ranging pieces[edit]

Many pieces can move any number of empty squares along a straight line, limited only by the edge of the board. If an opposing piece intervenes, it may be captured by moving to that square and removing it from the board. A ranging piece must stop where it captures, and cannot bypass a piece that is in its way. If a friendly piece intervenes, the moving piece is limited to a distance that stops short of the intervening piece; if the friendly piece is adjacent, it cannot move in that direction at all.

The ranging pieces are the soaring eagle, horned falcon, free king, rushing bird, the demons, free dream-eater, water buffalo, flying ox, soldier, dragon king, dragon horse, the chariots, rook, bishop, white horse, whale, standard bearer, vermillion sparrow, turtle-snake, blue dragon, white tiger, side dragon, golden bird, great dragon, white elephant, golden dear, movers, howling dog, ram’s-head solder and lance.

Hook moves (changing tack)[edit]

The hook mover, long-nosed goblin, Capricorn, and peacock can move any number of squares along a straight line, as a normal ranging piece, but may also abruptly change tack left or right by 90° at any one place along the route, and then continue as a ranging piece. Turning a corner like this is optional.

The range covered by a hook move is the equivalent of two moves by a rook, or two moves by a bishop, depending the piece. However, a hook move is functionally a single move: The piece cannot capture twice in one move, nor may it capture and then move on. It must stop before an intervening piece (unless it first changes direction to avoid it), and must stop when it captures, just like any other ranging piece. It can only change direction once per move.

Lion moves (multiple captures)[edit]

The lion, lion dog, soaring eagle, and horned falcon have sequential multiple-capture abilities, called "lion moves". Among the pieces that only appear with promotion, so do the teaching king, buddhist spirit, and furious fiend. The details of these powerful moves are described for the lion, below.

Individual pieces[edit]

When a piece occurs in both tai shogi and maka dai dai shogi, it moves and promotes the same way. Betza's funny notation has been included in brackets for easier reference, with the extension that the letter d indicates doublemove pieces, dh indicates limited doublemove pieces (doublemove pieces that must continue on the same path they started on, moving either forwards or backwards) and dd indicates doublemove pieces that must stop once they capture. dn represents pieces that may move n times per turn, dhn indicates limited n-move pieces, and ddn indicates single-capture n-move pieces. th represents pieces which must change direction when changing movement, and tt represents pieces which must continue on the same direction when changing movement. cn represents pieces that may capture n times per turn. U denotes the universal leaper, a piece which can jump to any square on the board except the one that it is on.

Emperor (自在)天王 (jizai) tennō

  • Ranging jump: The emperor can jump to any empty square anywhere on the board. (royal U)
    • However, it can capture a piece only if that piece is unprotected (this rule prevents the game from starting with checkmate).
Note that since the opposing emperor protects all other opposing pieces on the board, an emperor can only capture after the opposing emperor has been removed from play—unless the opposing emperor moves to an unprotected square, putting itself in check.

Crown prince 太子 taishi

  • Step: The crown prince can step one square in any direction, orthogonal or diagonal. (K)
It may move into or remain in check (not recommended).

Hook mover 鉤行 kōgyō

  • Hook move: The hook mover can move any number of free squares along one of the four orthogonal directions, then (optionally) turn 90° and move any number of free squares in a perpendicular orthogonal direction. (t[RR])

Long-nosed goblin 天狗 tengu

  • Hook move: The tengu can move any number of free squares along one of the four diagonal directions, then (optionally) turn 90° and move any number of free squares in a perpendicular diagonal direction; or,
  • Step: It can step one square in one of the four orthogonal directions. (Wt[BB])

Capricorn 摩𩹄 makatsu

  • Hook move: The Capricorn can move any number of free squares along one of the four diagonal directions, then (optionally) turn 90° and move any number of free squares along a perpendicular diagonal direction. (t[BB])
This means the Capricorn can only reach half the squares on the board.

Peacock 孔雀 kujaku

  • Hook move: The peacock can move any number of free squares along one of the two forward diagonals, then (optionally) turn 90° and move any number of free squares in a perpendicular diagonal direction; or,
  • Limited range: It can move one or two squares in one of the two rearward diagonals. (bB2t[fBB])

Soaring eagle 飛鷲 hijū

  • Range: The soaring eagle can move any number of free squares in a straight line in any direction except the forward diagonals; or,
  • Lion move: It can move or jump one or two squares along either forward diagonal, potentially capturing two pieces. This power includes igui and skipping a turn (see "Lion"), but not moving off the diagonal. (RbBdhfFfA)

Horned falcon 角鷹 kakuō

  • Range: The horned falcon can move any number of free squares in a straight line in any direction except directly forwards; or,
  • Lion move: It can move or jump one or two squares along a line directly forward, potentially capturing two pieces. This power includes igui and skipping a turn (see "Lion"), but not moving off the orthogonal. (BrlbRdhfWfD)

Free king 奔王 honnō

  • Range: The free king can move any number of free squares along any one of the eight orthogonal or diagonal directions. (Q)

Rushing bird 行鳥 gyōchō

  • Range: The rushing bird can move any number of free squares in any direction, orthogonal or diagonal, except directly backwards. (BfrlR)

Free demon 奔鬼 honki

  • Range: The free demon can move any number of free squares in the two forward diagonal directions; or,
    • It can move any number of free squares orthogonally sideways; or,
  • Limited range: It can move one to five squares directly forward or backward. (fBrlRfbR5)
Note: English language sources show ranging moves along all four diagonals (BrlRfbR5), but Japanese Wikipedia only describes the piece this way for taikyoku shogi.

Free dream-eater 奔獏 honbaku

  • Range: The free dream-eater can move any number of free squares in the two forward diagonal directions; or,
    • It can move any number of free squares directly forward or backward; or,
  • Limited range: It can move one to five squares orthogonally sideways. (fBfbRrlR5)
Note: English language sources show ranging moves along all four diagonals (BfbRrlR5), but Japanese Wikipedia only describes the piece this way for taikyoku shogi.

Water buffalo 水牛 suigyū

  • Range: The water buffalo can move any number of free squares in the four diagonal directions; or,
    • It can move any number of free squares orthogonally sideways; or,
  • Limited range: It can move one or two squares directly forward or backward. (BrlRfbR2)

Flying Ox 飛牛 higyū

  • Range: The flying ox can move any number of free squares along one of the four diagonal directions; or,
    • It can move any number of free squares orthogonally forward or backward. (BfbR)

Soldier 兵士 heishi

  • Range: The soldier can move any number of free squares along any of the four orthogonals; or,
    • It can move any number of free squares along a rear diagonal. (RbB)

Dragon king 龍王 ryūō

  • Range: The dragon king can move any number of free squares along any of the four orthogonal directions; or,
  • Step: It can move one square in any diagonal direction. (FR)

Dragon horse 龍馬 ryūme

  • Range: The dragon horse can move any number of free squares along any of the four diagonal directions; or,
  • Step: It can move one square in any orthogonal direction. (WB)

Side chariot 走車 sōsha

  • Range: The side chariot can move any number of free squares along one of the four orthogonal directions; or,
  • Step: It can move one square diagonally behind. (RbF)

Rook 飛車 hisha

  • Range: The rook can move any number of free squares along any of the four orthogonal directions. (R)

Bishop 角行 kakugyō

  • Range: The bishop can move any number of free squares along any of the four diagonal directions. (B)
Because it cannot move orthogonally, an unpromoted bishop can only reach half the squares on the board.

Lion 獅子 shishi

  • Area move/double capture: The lion can step one square in any direction up to twice in a turn. It can change directions after its first step, and is not restricted to following one of the eight orthogonal or diagonal directions. That is, it can also step to one of the in-between squares that a knight jumps to in Western chess.
    • Unlike the hook movers, it can continue after a capture on the first step, potentially capturing two pieces on each turn.
    • By moving back to its starting square, it can effectively capture a piece on an adjacent square without moving. This is called 居喰い igui "stationary feeding".
    • A similar move without capturing leaves the board unchanged, which is a way to pass a turn. This can only be done when there are empty adjacent squares.
Or,
  • Jump: The lion can jump anywhere within two squares. This is equivalent to jumping in any of the eight diagonal or orthogonal directions, or making any of the jumps of a knight in Western chess. (KNADdK)
Note: The restrictions when capturing a lion in chu shogi do not apply in tai shogi.

White horse 白駒 hokku

  • Range: The white horse can move any number of free squares directly forward or backward; or,
    • It can move any number of free squares diagonally forward. (fbRfB)

Whale 鯨鯢 keigei

  • Range: The whale can move any number of free squares directly forward or backward; or;
    • It can move any number of free squares diagonally backward. (fbRbB)

Standard bearer 前旗 zenki

  • Range: The standard bearer can move any number of free squares along any of the forward directions (diagonal or orthogonal); or,
  • Limited range: It can move one or two squares along any of the other directions (orthogonally sideways, diagonally backwards, or directly backwards). (fQrlbQ2)

Vermillion sparrow 朱雀 suzaku

There are two completely different claims for the movement of the sparrow.

  • Japanese Wikipedia:
    • Range: The vermillion sparrow can move any number of free squares along the forward right or rear left diagonals; or,
    • Step: It can step one square orthogonally or on the rear right diagonal. It has no move along the fore left diagonal. ([fr][bl]BW[br]F)
  • English-language sources:
    • Range: The vermillion sparrow can move any number of free squares diagonally or orthogonally forward; or,
    • Limited range: It can move one or two squares diagonally backward; or,
    • Step: It can move one square directly backward. (fQbB2bW)

Turtle-snake 玄武 genbu

There are two different movement options claimed for the turtle-snake:

  • English-language sources:
    • Range: It can move any number of free squares diagonally forward or directly backward; or,
    • Limited range: It can move one or two squares diagonally backward; or,
    • Step: It can step one square directly backward. (fBbRbB2)
  • Japanese Wikipedia:
    • Range: The turtle-snake can move any number of free squares diagonally forward to the right or diagonally backward to the left; or,
    • Step: It can step one square in any direction. ([fr][bl]BW)
Note: Since Japanese Wikipedia also describes the piece this way for taikyoku shogi, which often has unique movements for its pieces, this may be an error. One might expect the move to be the mirror image of the vermillion sparrow above ([fl][br]BW[bl]F).

Blue dragon 青龍 seiryū

  • Range: The blue dragon can move any number of free squares along the side orthogonals or the forward right diagonal; or,
  • Limited range: It can move one or two squares directly forward or backward; or,
  • Step: It can move one square diagonally forward to the left. (rlR[fr]BfbR2[fl]F)

White tiger 白虎 byakko

  • Range: The white tiger can move any number of free squares directly forward or backward; or,
    • diagonally forward to the left; or,
  • Step: It can move one or two squares orthogonally sideways; or,
    • It can step one square diagonally forward to the right. (fbR[fl]BrlR2[fr]F)

Right chariot 右車 usha

  • Range: The right chariot can move any number of free squares straight forward; or,
    • It can move any number of free squares along the forward right or rear left diagonals; or,
  • Step: It can move one square directly backward. (fR[fr][bl]BbW)

Left chariot 左車 sasha

  • Range: The left chariot can move any number of free squares straight forward; or,
    • It can move any number of free squares along the forward left or rear right diagonals; or,
  • Step: It can move one square directly backward. (fR[fl][br]BbW)

Side dragon 横龍 ōryū

  • Range: The side dragon can move any number of free squares orthogonally forward or sideways; or,
  • Step: It can move one square directly backward. (frlRbW)

Dove 鳩槃 kyūhan

  • Limited range: The dove can move one or two squares in one of the four orthogonal directions; or'
    • It can move one to five squares in one of the four diagonal directions. (R2B5)

She-devil 夜叉 yasha

  • Limited range: The she-devil can move one or two squares along one of the four diagonal directions; or,
    • It can move one to five squares along one of the four orthogonal directions. (R5B2)

Golden bird 金翅 kinshi

  • Range: The golden bird can move any number of free squares directly forward or backward; or,
  • 1st limited range: It can move one or two squares sideways; or,
  • 2nd limited range: It can move one to three squares along one of the four diagonals. (fbRrlR2B3)

Great dragon 大龍 dairyū

There are two descriptions of the move of this piece. The main Japanese Wikipedia entry gives it as,

  • Range: The great dragon can move any number of free squares orthogonally sideways; or,
  • Jump: It can jump to the second or third square orthogonally sideways; or,
  • 1st limited range: It can move one or two squares directly forward or backward; or,
  • 2nd limited range: It can move one to three squares along either of the rear diagonals. (rlRrlDrlHfbR2bB3)
                 
                 
               
               
           
           
             
                 

However, a second description is found in the kirin article, as the kirin promotes to great dragon. In that description, the piece moves as described in dai dai shogi: no jumps to the side, and three steps in any of the four diagonals. (rlRB3fbR2)

White elephant 白象 hakuzō

  • Range: The white elephant can move any number of free squares diagonally backward; or,
  • Limited range: It can move one or two square in one of the other six diagonal or orthogonal directions. (frlQ2bB)
Note: English language sources have the reverse, with ranging in all directions except along the back diagonals, which are limited to two squares (frlQbB2). However, the Japanese Wikipedia version listed here makes this piece symmetrical with the fragrant elephant in dai dai shogi.

Lion dog 狛犬 komainu

  • Lion move/triple capture: The lion dog can make a three-step lion move along any one of the eight orthogonal or diagonal directions. That is, unlike the lion itself, but like the soaring eagle and horned falcon, it is restricted to moving along a straight line and cannot move to the in-between squares. This power includes jumping, igui, and skipping a turn.
    • A piece may be captured on all three steps.
    • The lion dog may capture a piece on the first and second square, and then retreat to the first square. Or it may snatch a piece off the first square as in normal igui. (Note however that it may not then continue in the opposite direction: it is restricted to one orthogonal or diagonal.)
    • It may jump to the second square, and then continue to the third square, capturing up to two pieces. Or it may jump directly to the third square.
    • It is not required to take all three steps. However, like most powerful pieces, once it makes a capturing move it "promotes" and loses its powers (unless of course it is a promoted western barbarian, in which case it cannot promote again, and its powers are permanent). (KdhKdh3Kc2tt[DW]c2tt[AF]HG)
Note: In English-language sources, the lion dog is described as having a 3-square limited-range move in any direction (Q3). However, this seems to be an error, as it makes the traditional description of the teaching king tautologous.

Wrestler 力士 rikishi

  • Limited range: The wrestler can move one to three squares along one of the four diagonal directions; or,
  • Step: It can move one square orthogonally sideways. (B3rlW)

Guardian of the Gods 金剛 kongō

  • Limited range: The guardian of the gods can move one to three squares along one of the four orthogonal directions; or
  • Step: It can step one square diagonally [forward]. (R3[f?]F)
Note: according to Japanese Wikipedia, it can step in any of the four diagonals (R3F), but in English-language sources it can only step in the two forward diagonals (R3fF).

Buddhist devil 羅刹 rasetsu

  • Limited range: The Buddhist devil can move one to three squares diagonally forward; or,
  • Step: It can move one square orthogonally sideways or directly backward. (fB3rlbW)

Golden deer 金鹿 konroku

  • Range: The golden deer can move any number of free squares diagonally forward; or,
  • Limited range: It can move one or two squares diagonally backward. (fBbB2)

Silver hare 銀兎 ginto

  • Range: The silver hare can move any number of free squares diagonally backward; or,
  • Limited range: It can move one or two squares diagonally forward. (fB2bB)

Fierce eagle 猛鷲 mōjū

  • Limited range: The fierce eagle can move one or two squares orthogonally to either side or diagonally backwards; or,
  • Step: It may step one square in any of the three forward directions. (fKrlR2bB2)
Note: English language sources show the limited range in all four diagonals, and the steps orthogonally sideways (B2frlK). However, Japanese Wikipedia only describes this piece that way for taikyoku shogi.

Old kite 古鵄 kotetsu

  • Limited range: The old kite can move one or two squares along one of the four orthogonal directions; or,
  • Step: It can move one square diagonally forward. (R2fF)

Violent ox 猛牛 mōgyū

  • Limited range: The violent ox can move one or two squares in one of the four orthogonal directions. (R2)

Flying dragon 飛龍 hiryū

  • Step: The flying dragon can move one or two squares along one of the four diagonal directions. (B2)
Because it cannot move orthogonally, a flying dragon can only reach half the squares on the board.

Old rat 老鼠 rōso

  • Limited range: The old rat can move one or two squares along a forward diagonal or the rear orthogonal. (fB2rR2)

Enchanted badger 変狸 henri

  • Limited range: The enchanted badger can move one or two squares orthogonally forward or sideways. (frlR2)

Flying horse 馬麟 barin

  • Limited range: The flying horse can move one or two squares diagonally forward; or,
  • Step: It can step one square in one of the four orthogonal directions. (fB2W)

Prancing stag 踊鹿 yōroku

  • Limited range: The prancing stag can move one or two squares orthogonally sideways; or,
  • Step: It can step one square in one of the four diagonal directions, or directly forward. (fWrlR2F)

Violent bear 猛熊 mōyū

  • Limited range: The violent bear can move one or two squares diagonally forward; or,
  • Step: It can step one square orthogonally sideways. (fB2rlW)

Side mover 横行 ōgyō

  • Range: The side mover can move any number of free squares orthogonally sideways; or,
  • Step: It can move one square orthogonally forward or backward. (rlRW)

Vertical mover 竪行 shugyō

  • Range: The vertical mover can move any number of free squares orthogonally forward or backward; or,
  • Step: It can step one square orthogonally sideways. (fbRW)

Phoenix 鳳凰 hōō

  • Step: The phoenix can step one square in one of the four orthogonal directions; or,
  • Jump: It can jump to the second square in one of the four diagonal directions. (WA)

Kirin 麒麟 kirin

  • Step: The kirin can step one square in one of the four diagonal directions; or,
  • Jump: It can jump to the second square in one of the four orthogonal directions. (FD)
Because of its unusual movement, an unpromoted kirin can only reach half the squares on the board.

Reverse chariot 反車 hensha

  • Ranging: The reverse chariot can move any number of free squares directly forward or backward. (fbR)

Poisonous snake 毒蛇 dokuja

There are two different movement options claimed for the poison snake:

  • English sources: The poisonous snake can jump to the second square directly forward or diagonally backward; or it can step one square to either side (fDbArlW);
  • Japanese Wikipedia: The poisonous snake can step one or two squares directly forward or to either side; or it can step one square diagonally forward or directly backward. (frlR2fFbW)

The Japanese site only explicitly makes this claim for dai dai shogi and taikyoku shogi. The move and promotion is symmetrical with the old kite in tai shogi, and one would expect the move to be different in these three game variants.

Northern barbarian 北狄 hokuteki

  • Limited range: The northern barbarian can move one or two squares diagonally forward; or,
  • Step: It can step one square orthogonally sideways or diagonally backward. (fB2rlWbF)

Southern barbarian 南蛮 namban

  • Limited range: The southern barbarian can move one or two squares diagonally backward; or,
  • Step: It can step one square orthogonally sideways or diagonally forward. (bB2rlWfF)

Eastern barbarian 東夷 tōi

There contradictory claims for the moves of the eastern barbarian:
  • English-language sources:
    • Limited range: The eastern barbarian can move one or two squares directly forward or backward; or,
    • Step: It can step one square orthogonally sideways or diagonally forward. (fbR2WfF)
(This is symmetrical with the movement of the western barbarian.)
  • Japanese Wikipedia:
    • Limited range: The eastern barbarian can move one or two squares directly forward or backward; or,
    • Step: It can step one square to the right. (fbR2rW)
(Three directions are omitted compared to the English sources.)

Western barbarian 西戎 seijū

  • Limited range: The western barbarian can move one or two squares orthogonally sideways; or,
  • Step: It can step one square directly forward or backward, or diagonally forward. (rlR2WfF)

Blind bear 盲熊 mōyū

  • Range: The blind bear can move any number of free squares orthogonally backward; or,
  • Step: It can step one square in one of the four diagonal directions. (FbR)

Drunk elephant 醉象 suizō

  • Step: The drunken elephant can step one square in any direction, orthogonal or diagonal, except directly backward. (FfrlW)

Neighbor king 近王 kinnō

  • Step: The neighbor king can step one square in any direction, orthogonal or diagonal [except directly backwards?]. (FfrlW if cannot move directly backwards, K otherwise)
Note: English-language sources state that the neighbor king can step in any direction except directly backward, like the drunk elephant (FfrlW). However, Japanese Wikipedia only describes the piece this way for taikyoku shogi.

Blind tiger 盲虎 mōko

  • Step: The blind tiger can step one square in any direction except orthogonally forward. (FrlbW)

Free tiger 奔虎 honko

  • Range: The free tiger moves in the same directions as a blind tiger, but with unlimited range. (BrlbR)

Blind monkey 盲猿 mōen

  • Step: The blind monkey can step one square in one of the four diagonal directions or either orthogonal sideways. (FrlW)

Ferocious leopard 猛豹 mōhyō

  • Step: The leopard can move one square in the four diagonal directions; or,
    • It can move one square orthogonally forward or backward. (FfbW)
That is, it can move to any of the six adjacent squares ahead or behind it, but not directly to the side.

Free leopard 奔豹 honpyō

  • Range: The free leopard moves in the same directions as a ferocious leopard, but with unlimited range. (BfbR)

Reclining dragon 臥龍 garyū

  • Step: The reclining dragon can step one square in one of the four orthogonal directions or diagonally backward. (WbF)

Free dragon 奔龍 honryū

  • Range: The free dragon moves in the same directions as a reclining dragon, but with unlimited range. (RbB)

Chinese cock 淮鶏 waikei

  • Step: The Chinese cock can step one square orthogonally sideways, directly backward, or diagonally forward. (fFrlbW)

Old monkey 古猿 koen

  • Step: The old monkey can step one square in one of the four diagonal directions, or directly backward. (FbW)

Evil wolf 悪狼 akurō

  • Step: The evil wolf can step one square orthogonally sideways or forward, or diagonally forward. (frlWfF)

Free wolf 奔狼 honrō

  • Range: The free cat moves in the same directions as an evil wolf, but with unlimited range. (frlRfB)

Angry boar 嗔猪 shincho

  • Step: The angry boar can step one square in one of the four orthogonal directions. (W)

Cat sword 猫刄 myōjin

  • Step: The cat sword can move one square in one of the four diagonal directions. (F)
Because it cannot move orthogonally, a cat sword can only reach half the squares on the board.

Free cat 奔猫 honmyō

  • Range: The free cat moves in the same directions as a cat sword, but with unlimited range. (B)

Coiled serpent 蟠蛇 banja

  • Step: The coiled serpent can step one square directly forward or backward, or diagonally backward. (fbWbF)

Free serpent 奔蛇 honja

  • Range: The free serpent moves in the same directions as a coiled serpent, but with unlimited range. (fbRbB)

Dark spirit 無明 mumyō

The dark spirit has asymmetric options for movement.

  • Step: It can step one square diagonally forward, in either direction; or,
    • One square orthogonally to the right; or,
    • One square diagonally backward to the left. (f[bl]FrW)

Deva 提婆 daiba

The deva has asymmetric options for movement.

  • Step: It can step one square diagonally forward, in either direction; or,
    • One square orthogonally to the left; or,
    • One square diagonally backward to the right. (f[br]FlW)

Right general 右将 ushō

  • Step: The right general can step one square in any direction except orthogonally right. It is called the right general because it guards the right side of the board. (FflbW)

Left general 左将 sashō

  • Step: The left general can move one square in any direction except orthogonally left. It is called the left general because it guards the left side of the board. (FfrbW)

Gold general 金将 kinshō

  • Step: The gold general can step one square in one of the four orthogonal directions; or,
    • One square diagonally forward, giving it six possibilities. (WfF)

Free gold 奔金 honkin

  • Range: The free gold moves in the same directions as a gold general, but with unlimited range. (RfB)

Silver general 銀将 ginshō

  • Step: The silver general can step one square in one of the four diagonal directions; or,
    • One square straight forward, giving it five possibilities. (FfW)

Free silver 奔銀 hongin

  • Ranging: The free silver moves in the same directions as a silver general, but with unlimited range. (BfR)

Copper general 銅将 dōshō

  • Step: The copper general can step one square directly forward or backward, or one square diagonally forward, giving it four possibilities. (fbWfF)

Free copper 奔銅 hondō

  • Range: The free copper moves in the same directions as a copper general, but with unlimited range. (fbRfB)

Tile general 瓦将 gashō

  • Step: The tile general can step one square diagonally forward or directly backward, giving it three possibilities. (fFbW)

Free tile 奔瓦 honga

  • Range: The free tile moves in the same directions as a tile general, but with unlimited range. (fBbR)

Iron general 鉄将 tesshō

  • Step: The iron general can move one square forward, orthogonally or diagonally, giving it three possibilities. (fK)
An unpromoted iron general that reaches the farthest rank is trapped.

Free iron 奔鉄 hontetsu

  • Range: The free iron moves in the same directions as an iron general, but with unlimited range. (fQ)
An unpromoted free iron that reaches the farthest rank is trapped.

Wood general 木将 mokushō

  • Limited range: The wood general can move one or two squares along a forward diagonal. (fB2)
An unpromoted wood general that reaches the farthest rank is trapped.

Stone general 石将 sekishō

  • Step: The stone general can step one square diagonally forward, giving it two possibilities. (fF)
A stone general can only reach a fraction of the board. An unpromoted stone general that reaches the farthest rank is trapped.

Free stone 奔石 honseki

  • Range: The free stone moves in the same directions as a stone general, but with unlimited range. (fB)
An unpromoted free stone that reaches the farthest rank is trapped.

Earth general 土将 doshō and go-between 仲人 chūnin

  • Step: The earth general and go between can move one square directly forward or backward. (fbW)
These pieces have the same range of movement and promotions. The only difference is their placement at setup.

Free earth 奔土 hondo and free gofer 奔人 honnin

  • Range: The free earth and free gofer move in the same directions as the earth general and go-between, but with unlimited range. (fbR)

Knight 桂馬 keima

  • Jump: The knight jumps at an angle intermediate between orthogonal and diagonal, amounting to one square forward plus one square diagonally forward, in a single motion, ignoring any intervening piece. That is, it has a choice of two forward destinations. (ffN)
An unpromoted knight that reaches one of the two farthest ranks is trapped.

Howling Dog 𠵇犬 kiken

  • Range: The howling dog can move any number of free squares along the forward orthogonal; or,
  • Step: It can step one square directly backwards. (fRbW)

Donkey 驢馬 roba

  • Step: The donkey can step one square orthogonally; or,
  • Jump: It can jump to the second square directly forward or backward. (WfbD)
Note: English-language sources show only a jump forward or backward, and a step only sideways. (rlWfbD)

Ram’s-head soldier 羊兵 yōhei

  • Range: The ram’s-head soldier can move any number of free squares along either forward diagonal. (fB)
An unpromoted ram's-head soldier that reaches the farthest rank is trapped.

Lance 香車 kyōsha

  • Range: The lance can move any number of free squares straight forward. (fR)
An unpromoted lance that reaches the farthest rank is trapped.

Pawn 歩兵 fuhyō

  • Step: The pawn can step one square forward. (fW)
An unpromoted pawn that reaches the farthest rank is trapped.

Promotion[edit]

When a piece first makes a capture, it promotes. (If it can: a few important pieces do not promote.) Promotion has the effect of changing how a piece moves. See the table above for what each piece promotes to. Promotion is effected by turning the piece over after it moves, revealing the name of its promoted rank. Promotion is both compulsory and permanent. Often "demotion" would be a better word, for most powerful pieces 'promote' to a gold general, which is a weak piece. It is the weaker pieces that tend to become more powerful upon making a capture.

This means that a player only gets to attack or defend with many of the original lion and hook movers once each before they lose their powers. To permanently gain such ability, certain weaker pieces must be promoted.

This is all very different from smaller shogi variants, where pieces promote when they cross a promotion zone (the enemy camp), and where promotion is optional and usually a good thing. The dots on the tai shogi board that would represent promotion zones in other games are only there as placement guides for the initial setup of the two camps.

Some pieces promote, or demote, to a piece that exists in the initial setup of the board. However, such a piece cannot then promote a second time as its namesake does. For example, a gold general promotes to a free gold. However, while a hook mover demotes to a gold general on its first capturing move, it does not promote to a free gold on its second. Rather, it remains a gold general for the rest of the game. This should be clear from the game equipment, for each piece only has two sides.

Many of the step movers promote to free-ranging pieces but retain their directions of movement. These were listed above after the unpromoted pieces. Other pieces only appear as a result of promotion. They are as follows:

Pieces that only appear with promotion[edit]

These are in addition to the 'free' pieces mentioned in the previous section.

Teaching king 教王 kyōō

  • Lion move: The teaching king can move as a lion dog (three-step lion move along any one straight line); or,
  • Range: It can move as a free king (range along any one straight line). (QdhKdh3Kc2tt[DW]c2tt[AF]HG)
Note: Medieval manuscripts simply describe its movement as "lion dog plus free king". Since English-language materials described the lion dog as a limited-range piece, this was thought to be redundant, and various new moves were proposed, with the 'traditional' movement being maintained to be simply that of a free king (Q). However, the "lion dog plus free king" description makes sense with Japanese Wikipedia's description of the lion dog (above).

Buddhist spirit 法性 hōsei

  • Lion move: The Buddhist spirit can move either as a lion; or,
  • Range: It can move as a free king. (QNADdK)

Furious fiend 奮迅 funjin

  • Lion move: The furious fiend can move as a lion anywhere within a two-square distance, including jumps, double capture, igui, and passing a turn; or,
  • Limited range: It can move (but not jump) up to three free squares along one of the eight diagonals and orthogonals. (Q3NADdK) HOWEVER - sources describe this piece as 'lion plus lion dog' (QNADdKdh3Kc2tt[DW]c2tt[AF]HG)- therefore some players do just this - a similar situation to the teaching king 'free king plus lion dog', both sets of move being available - a matter of choice.

Wizard stork 仙鶴 senkaku

  • Range: The wizard stork can move any number of free squares along one of the four diagonal directions, or directly forward; or,
  • Step: It can step one square directly backward. (BfRbW)

Mountain witch 山母 sambo

  • Range: The mountain witch can move any number of free squares along one of the four diagonal directions, or directly backward; or,
  • Step: It can step one square directly forward. (BbRfW)

Square mover 方行 hōgyō

  • Range: The square mover can move any number of free squares along one of the four orthogonal directions; or,
  • Step: It can step one square diagonally forward. (RfF)

Fragrant elephant 香象 kōzō

  • Range: The fragrant elephant can move any number of free squares diagonally forward; or,
  • Limited range: It can move one or two squares along one of the four orthogonal directions, or along either rear diagonal. (fBR2bB2)
Note: Although Japanese Wikipedia mentions in passing that the fragrant elephant is used in tai shogi, it does not describe how it moves, or which piece promotes into it, and thus it may be an error. The movement described here is taken from English-language sources, and matches the Japanese description for dai dai shogi.

Great elephant 大象 taizō

  • Limited range 1: The great elephant can move one to five squares orthogonally sideways or along either rear diagonal; or,
  • Limited range 2: It can move one to three squares diagonally forward, or directly forward or backward. (fbR3fB3rlR5bB5) HOWEVER some players keep the lion power on promotion so the extra 2 steps in the sideways and diagonally backwards directions are just 2 extra steps with no lion power. If the great elephant steps five steps then lion power can not be used - once again a choice of moves is offered. (KdhKdh3Kc2tt[DW]c2tt[AF]HGrlR5bB5)
Note: Japanese Wikipedia states that the lion dog demotes to gold upon capture. Although it gives the great elephant as the demotion of the lion dog in dai dai shogi, it has different movement options in that game.

Free bear 奔熊 honyū

  • Range: The free bear can move any number of free squares along one of the four diagonal directions, or along either orthogonal sideways; or,
  • Jump: It can perform a knight's jump forward. (BrlRffN)

Free boar 奔猪 honcho

  • Range: The free boar can move any number of free squares along one of the four diagonal directions, or along either orthogonal sideways. (BrlR)

Bat 蝙蝠 kōmori

  • Range: The bat can move any number of free squares along either of the rear diagonals, or directly forward. (fRbB)

Check and mate[edit]

When a player makes a move, such that the opponent's sole remaining emperor or crown prince could be captured on the following move, the move is said to give check to the emperor or prince; the emperor or prince is said to be in check. If a player's last emperor or prince is in check and no legal move by that player will get it out of check, the checking move is also mate, and effectively wins the game.

Unlike Western chess, a player need not move out of check, and indeed may even move into check. Although obviously not often a good idea, a player with more than one royal (emperor or prince) may occasionally sacrifice one of these pieces as part of a gambit.

A player is not allowed to give perpetual check to the sole objective piece.

Game end[edit]

A player who captures the opponent's sole remaining emperor or prince wins the game. In practice this rarely happens, as a player will resign when checkmated, as otherwise when loss is inevitable.

A player who makes an illegal move loses immediately. (This rule may be relaxed in casual games.)

Another possible, if rather uncommon, way for a game to end is repetition (sennichite). If the same position occurs four times with the same player to play, then the game is no contest. Recall, however, the prohibition against perpetual check.

Game notation[edit]

The method used in English-language texts to express shogi moves was established by George Hodges in 1976. It is derived from the algebraic notation used for chess, but differs in several respects. Modifications have been made for tai shogi.

A typical example is P-8h. The first letter represents the piece moved (see above). Promoted pieces have a + added in front of the letter. (e.g., +CC for a wizard stork (promoted Chinese cock). The designation of the piece is followed by a symbol indicating the type of move: - for an ordinary move or x for a capture. Next is the designation for the square on which the piece lands. This consists of a number representing the file and a lowercase letter representing the rank, with 1a being the top right corner (as seen from Black's point of view) and 25y being the bottom left corner. (This method of designating squares is based on Japanese convention, which, however, uses Japanese numerals instead of letters. For example, the square 2c is denoted by 2三 in Japanese.)

If a soaring eagle, horned falcon, lion or Buddhist spirit captures by 'igui’, the square of the piece being captured is used instead of the destination square, and this is preceded by the symbol '!'. If a double capture is made, then it is added after the first capture.

If a capture mandates the player to promote the piece, then a + is added to the end to signify that the promotion was taken. For example, ORx7c+ indicates an old rat capturing on 7c and promoting.

In cases where the above notation would be ambiguous, the designation of the start square is added after the designation for the piece in order to make clear which piece is meant.

Moves are commonly numbered as in chess.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]