Tsume shogi

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Classic Tsume Shogi Problem
☖ pieces in hand: 2角金4銀桂417
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Composer is unknown. The solution is 1. +B-52 2. S41x52 3. S*42 or 1. +B-52 2. S61x52 3. S*62.[a]

Tsume shogi (詰将棋 or 詰め将棋, tsume shōgi) or tsume (詰め) is the Japanese term for a shogi miniature problem in which the goal is to checkmate the opponent's king. Tsume problems present a situation that might occur in a shogi game, and the solver must find out how to achieve checkmate. It is similar to a chess problem.

The term tsumi (詰み) means the state of checkmate itself. The verb form is tsumu (詰む) "to checkmate". (The related term tsumero 詰めろ refers to the slightly different concept of "threatmate". See: Hisshi.)

Note that the concept of stalemate as in western chess does not exist in shogi as it essentially does not occur.[1][2] Thus, tsume shogi problems are strictly forced mate problems with constant checks.

Rules[edit]

Tsume problems have set rules for how they must be constructed and completed. If the solver breaks any of the rules, he has not solved the problem correctly. If the composer breaks any rules, he has not constructed a tsume shogi.

  • The attacking side is Black (先手, sente); meaning, he plays first.
  • The attacking side's King is usually not present on the board. If it is, it is called a sou-gyoku problem.
  • All of the attacking side's moves must be checks.
  • White (the defender, or the side with the king) must move in such a way to delay checkmate as long as possible. So a mate earlier than the given moves is called an earlier mate.
  • White has in hand all pieces not in the board or in the attacking side's hand, not counting the other King and the spare pawn.
  • White can drop any piece in hand to delay or prevent checkmate.
  • Black cannot make a mate line longer than the given. So, he cannot extend a mate in 65 puzzle to a mate in 225.

Purposes of tsume problems[edit]

Tsume problems can be used to fulfill one of two tasks: to train in shogi strategy or to be created as a work of art.

Shogi training[edit]

Tsume problems are considered very good training for playing shogi. They teach not only how to effectively checkmate the king but also to predict moves and plan out a long series of moves before achieving a goal. There are many websites and books dedicated to tsume problems for this purpose.

As a work of art[edit]

Many shogi players for centuries have created tsume problems with long and deliberate mating lines as artwork. They might consist of the pieces making geometric shapes, a theme which is used throughout the problem, the removal of all pieces on the board (called a Smoke Mate), or a set number of moves. One of the most famous tsume artists is Kanju Itou, who in 1755 wrote Shogi Zukou (将棋図巧), a famous collection of artistic tsume problems.[3] The main tsume shogi prize in the shogi world is the "Kanju Prize".[4]

Entering King[edit]

Black's king in an Entering King state
☖ pieces in hand: 角 銀 桂 香
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☗ pieces in hand: 金 銀 桂 香
Although White's king is in a strong Anaguma castle, Black's king has entered White's territory making it very difficult to mate. Therefore, this position favors Black.[5]

As a practical matter, when an opponent's king has entered a player's own territory, the opponent's king is often very difficult to mate given the forward attacking nature of most shogi pieces. This state is referred to as entering king (入玉 nyū gyoku). If both players' kings are in entering king states, the game becomes more likely to result in an impasse. (See Shogi § Impasse rule.)

Tactics[edit]

Mating with gold[edit]

A common move in the endgame is to checkmate an opponent's king with gold drop when the position that the gold is dropped to is also defended by another piece.

Japanese has three terms for this depending on the position of the gold in relation to the king. A gold dropped directly in front of the king is 頭金 atamakin ("head-gold"). 尻金 shirikin ("buttocks-gold") is gold position directly behind the king, and 腹金 harakin ("belly-gold") is a gold placed on the side of the king.

Since many pieces (pawn, lance, knight, silver) can all promote to gold-like piece, checkmate by a gold is usual.

Because of the relative ease of mating with a gold compared to other pieces, it is often advantageous to keep a gold in hand during the endgame so that a mate with a dropped gold can be executed.[6]

Mating and promotion[edit]

Since mate by gold is a fundamental checkmate tactic in shogi, it is common for pieces to promote into a gold to deliver checkmate.[7]

For instance, a silver defended by a pawn can mate at the head of a king but only if the pawn is promoted.[b] A silver protected by a pawn, lance or rook cannot attack the side squares (62, 42) leaving two escape routes for the king unless there is a knight behind the defender.

As another example, a knight may mate a king if promoted to a gold as well (as shown in the diagrams to the right). If the knight didn't promote here, then there would be no checkmate.

Mating and unpromotion[edit]

In other situations, staying unpromoted can lead to a mate while promoting does not result in mate.[7]

In the example, if the knight on 85 moves to 73 and does not promote, it attacks the king and delivers checkmate (since the horse is also attacking the rank 2 squares in front of the king). However, if the knight moved to 73 and promoted to the gold-like narikeima, then the promoted knight isn't attacking the king leaving White a chance to counterattack to avoid checkmate.

Shogi Hite No. 2

Shogi Flying Hands

(将棋飛手 No. 2)
☖ pieces in hand: all the rest
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Mate in 15

The same is true with the silver example to the right. If the silver promoted at 83, then it would not be checkmate since a gold-like promoted silver cannot attack backwards diagonally.

Piece sacrifice[edit]

Trying to Flee
☖ pieces in hand: all the rest
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ii. ...K-92, iii. B-82+ (mate)

It is common in shogi to sacrifice pieces – that is, attacking with the expectation that the attacking piece will be immediately captured – in order to check the king forcing the king to move to a checkmateable position. Since shogi utilizes piece drops, dropped piece sacrifices are especially useful in checkmating patterns.

In this 5-move mate example, Black can execute a 3-move mate sequence if the White's king were positioned on the 91 square. Therefore, in order to get White to move their king to that position, Black drops his rook to the 91 square in a sacrifice move. Since White is now in check and without any safe square for an escape, White must capture the rook with his king.

Now, with the king on 91, Black can check the king with a bishop drop to 73.

Now the White's king is trapped. If the king tries to flee down the ninth file to 92, then Black will simply promote their bishop on the 82 square mating the king. The same applies to fleeing to across rank 1 (...K-81, B-82+) or attempting to drop a defending piece between the king and the bishop (...G*82, Bx82+).

Fast checkmates[edit]

Like the famous Scholar's mate in western chess, shogi has a well-known early mate sequence related to the joseki for Cheerful Central Rook vs Static Rook games.

For instance, if Black is playing Cheerful Central Rook, then if White deviates from the jouseki and blunders by creating a wall with their either of their silvers (S-62 or S-42), then Black will give a double check with their rook and promoted bishop rendering an 11-move mate as follows:[8][9]

1. P-76 P-84
2. P-56 P-54
3. R-58 P-85
4. P-55 Px55
5. Bx55 S-62?
6. Bx33!  
Similar Mate
☖ pieces in hand:
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Similar variants of this sequence are also possible. For example, Kitao (2011) offers the following position with these implied moves:

1. P-76 P-84
2. P-56 P-54
3. R-58 S-62
4. P-55 Px55
5. Bx55 P-34?
6. Bx33!  

Fastest shogi checkmate[edit]

In a sense, this a fairly unlikely mate sequence (cf. the Fool's mate in western chess).

1. P-76. Black's bishop diagonal is opened.

1...G-72. An unusual move early made by White. In the current configuration, the gold is stacked on top of the right silver creating a wall blocking White's king from fleeing rightward past the central file.

2. Bx33+?? A very bad blunder. Black trades his bishop for merely a pawn and promotes. Although the promoted bishop is checking White's king, it's meaningless. The game is now strongly in White's favor.

2...G-42?? An equally bad move by White. Although moving the left gold up does resolve Black's check, this allows Black the possibility of trading their bishop for a gold (plus the earlier pawn), which is a much better option than getting nothing. The better natural move here would be for White to simply capture Black's promoted bishop with their own bishop (2...Bx33). The game now has swung back much closer to an even game now.

3. +Bx42. Black captures the gold.

3...K-61?? White's king runs from the promoted bishop. This is the losing blunder. Instead, the only move here is for the king to capture the promoted bishop (3...K-42).

4. G*52. Dropping the gold on the 52 square gives checkmate.

If White had not created the wall structure with the gold and silver stacked on 72 and 71, respectively, White's king could have moved rightward or, even better, the gold in its starting position on 61 could have defended the 52 square.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The pieces in the diagram are as follows: the attacking side has a silver general (S) (, gin) in hand, a promoted bishop (+B) (, uma) on 25, and a promoted pawn (, to) on 53; The defending side has a king (, gyoku) on 51, a silver general (S) (, gin) on 41 and a silver general (S) (, gin) on 61. Captures are indicated by an "x" and piece drops are indicated by a "*". (See Shogi notation for full description of notation.)
  2. ^ An unpromoted silver could only mate a king in a similar position if there was another piece behind it that attacked along the sides of the silver such as another silver, a gold, a horse, or a dragon.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fairbairn 1986, p. 22.
  2. ^ Hosking 1997, p. 26.
  3. ^ Kanju Itou-ni tsuite (in Japanese).
  4. ^ History of the Kanju Prize(in Japanese).
  5. ^ 滝瀬, 竜司 [Takise, Ryuji] and 田中, 哲朗 [Tanaka, Tetsuro]. 2012. 入玉指向の将棋プログラムの作成 [Development of entering-king oriented shogi programs]. Information Processing Society of Japan, 53 (11), 2544–2551.
  6. ^ Aono 2009, p. 192–196, Chapter 5: Improve your endgame: Lecture 1: The relationship with the type of piece: Calculating the number of pieces required for mate.
  7. ^ a b Leggett 1993, p. 25–42, Learning to use the pieces.
  8. ^ 村山 2016.
  9. ^ Hosking 1997, p. 42.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Aono, Teruichi (2009) [First published in 1983]. Better Moves for Better Shogi. Translated by Fairbairn, John (2nd ed.). Ishi Press. ISBN 978-4-87187-999-6.
  • Davis, T Gene (2011). Tsume puzzles for Japanese chess: Introduction to shogi mating riddles.
  • Fairbairn, John (1986). Shogi for beginners (2nd ed.). Ishi Press. ISBN 978-4-8718-720-10.
  • Hosking, Tony (1997). The art of shogi. The Shogi Foundation. ISBN 978-0-95310-890-9.
  • Kitao, Madoka (2011). Joseki at a glance. Translated by Kawasaki, Tomohide. Nekomado. ISBN 978-4-9052-2501-0.
  • Kitao, Madoka (2014). Ending attack at a glance. Translated by Kawasaki, Tomohide. Nekomado. ISBN 978-4-9052-2513-3.
  • Leggett, Trevor (1993). Japanese chess: The game of shogi. Tuttle Publishing.
  • "村山慈明の知って得する序盤術". NHK将棋講座 (NHK Shogi Kōza) (in Japanese). 2016.

External links[edit]