Tribute to Jean-Louis Cazaux
San Guo Qi is played on a large hexagonal board. Each player has a territory that is equal in number of spaces to their half of a normal Xiangqi board – the thirty-two spaces divided evenly into four rows before the river. The shape of each player’s side of the board is the same as regular Xiangqi except it is stretched to fit one third of a hexagon – the sides spread wide and the center spread forward. In between each kingdom’s home territory is a three branched river that serves the same purpose as in normal Xiangqi. Each player shares four file lines with one player, the other four with the other, and the middle file with both.
San-You-Qi is played on a differently shaped board. Again, each player has a territory equal to half a Xiangqi board before the river; however the halves are not mishapened and remain rectangular. Each half board is placed against an equilateral triangle made up of twenty-one intersection points (not counting those shared by the rectangular half boards). Three file lines – one from each side – intersect at every point inside the triangle. The half board file lines split into two – one going toward each of the other two kingdoms – when they enter the triangle. The edges of the triangle count as ranks for that half board’s player but could count as either rank or file lines for the other two.
All the pieces in this game are from regular Xiangqi, with all their same initial positions and powers. No new pieces are believed to be present. No river exists in this game but it is safe to say the Xiang must never enter inside the triangle – however the perimeter is allowable given it is part of the half board. Rules are not clear, but it is probable that a Bing can only move forward until after it has crossed inside the triangle – though it will have a choice of two file lines to follow when entering the triangle. Once inside the triangle, the Bing will have directions to choose from. Players should decide if a Bing in the triangle can only move away from its home territory or if can follow any marked paths. However, it should never be allowed to make a move that would return it to its own half board and once it enters an opponent half board it behaves like it would in regular Xiangqi. An exception to the later rule can be made to a side Bing using the edge of a triangle as a file line instead of the fifth rank of the opponent. Generals should not face each other on the same file line. Unlike in San-Quo-Qi, all three files of the castle connect with the three files of both other castles. Also, in this game, the distances between the castles have increased by two to three points.
Rules are also lost about how a general can be mated. In most two player games, an actual capture does not happen – that turn is never played. Here, it can be argued that such a move should happen since the first captured general does not end the game and the third player could somehow intervene and remove the checkmated player from check. Alternatively, the players could decide a checkmated general immediately looses or if still in check at the end of his or her turn looses – meaning only if the third player could only intervene if his turn was before the checkmated player’s turn.
The chessboard is a hexagon with 3 groups of 9x5 intersections each. There are 135 intersections in total. Every camp is separated from the others by a river and has a 9-points palace in its center.
The new pieces have different names depending on their side: Fire (Huo) for brown, Flag (Qi) for red, Wind (Feng) for white. The "royal" pieces are Generals which bear the name of the historical Chinese kingdoms: Shu for brown, Wei for red, Wu for white.
Several other pieces have different names too. The Soldier is a Brave (Yong), the Cannon is a more powerful Pao and the Minister is another Xiang meaning Protector.
- XiangQi pieces keep their moves. Wind – Flag - Fire move 2 steps orthogonally followed by 1 step diagonally. It can't jump over an intermediate man.
- A piece crossing the river on the central column can choose to enter either left or right enemy camp.
The game rules
The rules are much as those of ordinary Chinese Chess:
- The Pawn moves, and captures, forwards only until it crosses the middle line of the board, the river, after which it can move and capture sideways as well as forwards. It does not otherwise promote.
- The Cannon moves as a Rook, but it captures along Rook lines as follows: it jumps over, without disturbing, the first man of either color on such a line, and then captures the next man on that line which must belong to the opponent.
- The Chariot moves as in conventional Chess.
- The Horse moves almost as in conventional Chess, except that its move consists of two steps, first an orthogonal move, and then a diagonal move involving only a 45-degree course change, and so it can be blocked by a piece on the intermediate square.
- The Minister or Elephant, depending on which side it is on, moves always two squares diagonally, and can be blocked by an intervening piece. It cannot cross the river, but remains on its side of the board.
- The Advisors (also known as guards or ministers, and less commonly as assistants, mandarins, or warriors) are labelled 士 shì ("scholar", "gentleman") for black and 仕 shì ("scholar", "official") for black. Rarely, sets use the character 士 for both colours. The advisors start to the sides of the general. They move and capture one point diagonally and may not leave the palace, which confines them to five points on the board. They serve to protect the general.
- The General: it moves as a King in chess, except that it, like the Minister, cannot leave the nine-point area indicated by the X. Also, Generals of any two sides cannot face each other on an open file. Thus, if a General is in the central portion of the nine-castle, it prevents the other two Generals from being in its central column without intervening pieces, but if it is on the left or right side, it only affects the General whose home is towards that side of the board. Thus, the files are treated in the same way as they would be for normal Rook moves.
In this game, when one player checkmates another, instead of the pieces of the checkmated side being removed from the board, only the General is removed, and the checkmating player makes use of the additional pieces as part of his army.
White moves first, followed by Red, and then Black.
White moves first, followed by Red, and then Black.
In the Game of the Three Kingdoms, the White, Red, and Black Generals are denoted by the names of their respective kingdoms, Shu, Wei, and Wu, as shown in the top row of three Kings.
The piece shown as a Flag that occurs only in the Game of the Three Kingdoms is denoted thusly: the White Flag is indicated by the character for Wind, the Red Flag is indicated by the character for Banner, and the Black Flag is indicated by the character for Fire, .
The crossing zone in the center of board is called Ocean. Chariots and Horses are not allowed to pass through this zone
These new pieces are generally called banners or flags after the blue Wie army piece of Chi. The red Shu equivalent is the Chou (“Fire”) and the green Wu is Feng (“Wind”). All three move the same way – as an elongated Mao or Knight move; two points forward, one point diagonally. Like the Mao of Xiangqi, it cannot leap. They begin the game located two points before the Shi – at the forward two corners of the Nine-Point Castle. It is also possible that sometimes this game was played without any addition of pieces. Sadly, it is unsure what characters were used on the original pieces so most western authors do not use Chinese to represent them on diagrams; this report shows them by the first letter of their translated names. The other pieces are taken from regular Xiangqi and begin in the same position and have the same powers of movement. The generals and their guards must remain inside the castles; the Xiang must remain on their own side of the board, never crossing the river. The central Bing of each player can chose which file to follow and which enemy to attack but the other four can only invade the territory of the player closest to them. The three generals may not face either of the other two, as in Xiangqi. A general on the central file risks facing both of the other two but a general on one of the side files only needs to worry about the closest opponent general. Once a general is mated, that piece is removed from the board and the capturing player gains control over the rest of that kingdom’s pieces.