Shogi without the japanese language

Opening Setup


Shogi is played on a board of 9 columns of squares (called files) by 9 rows of squares (called ranks).
The squares are not checkered, but the first three ranks and last three ranks are shaded. These represent the camps of you and your opponent. The three ranks in the center are a neutral zone. Each player has a rack called the prison.
Shogi men consist of flat tiles shaped like arrowheads which lay flat on the board. The sides are not distinguished by color, but by aiming the point at the opponent’s side of the board. Each Shogi tile is identified with a black pictogram printed on the surface, meant to represent how it moves. Most tiles have pictograms on both sides, because these can be flipped over to promote to a red pictogram of a more powerful movement.
Rules of Procedure

The tiles begin the game in the arrangement shown in figure 1, with unpromoted sides facing up. One way to resolve who goes first could be that the host flips a tile. If the tile lands promoted side up, the player who flipped it is promoted to move first. Players alternate turns making one move. Players may not pass. For your turn, you can do one of three options :
  1. Move one of your tiles to an empty space according to its power of movement.
  2. Move one of your tiles to a space occupied by an opposing tile, which you put in your prison. All tiles capture exactly the same way that they move.
  3. Drop a tile from your prison onto the board. Restrictions are given below.
The game ends when a player captures the other player’s Gem, or a player resigns.


The object of the game is to capture your opponent’s Gem. The Gem may move one step in any of the eight directions. The Gem does not promote, so its reverse face is blank. The rules of Shogi might have diverged from that of western Chess through expressing the code of honor valued above life itself by medieval Japanese warriors.
Chariot promotes to: Dragon

A Chariot may move as many steps as desired along rank or file. Chariots promote to Dragons, which may move as many steps as desired along rank or file, or instead take one diagonal step.
Notice that, other than the Assassin and Chariot, most Shogi tiles have very little power to retreat.

Archer promotes to: Ninja

The Japanese word for this tile means simply “diagonal.” Descriptions of the game frequently need that word as an adjective, so with apologies to the Japanese, it is here renamed the Archer. It may move as many steps as desired diagonally. Archers promote to Ninjas, which may move as many steps as desired diagonally, or take one step along rank or file
Gold General
Golds are the Gem’s bodyguards. A Gold may move one step in any direction except diagonally backwards. Most tiles promote to a Gold. The tiles which begin the game already as Golds do not promote, so they are blank on the reverse
Silver General promotes to: Gold General
Silvers move one step diagonally, or one step straight forward. It may not move left, right, or directly back.

Basic Observations on Strategy, part one

Notice that the Gold and Silver officers, although capable of retreat, have more forward-facing power than backward. When Gold or Silver move forward diagonal, it would take Gold two steps to get back. But Silver is still threatening the square he left. When they move two steps forward, they can both get back just as quickly. If a Silver steps forward, this is more of a commitment than it would be to move forward diagonal. He requires three steps to return where he was. Exploit this if your opponent does it in your camp.
A Gold can retrace his rank-and-file steps with the same speed that he took them, but if he moves forward diagonal, he requires two steps to return. If he moves the same diagonal direction twice, he needs four steps to get back where he was. Golds are preferable over Silvers for defense. Silvers are preferable over Golds for offense.

Lance promotes to: Gold General
Lances move as many steps straight forward as desired. They may not move left, right, back, or diagonal

Horse promotes to: Gold General
A Horse move consists of one step left or right, and then two steps straight forward, regardless of tiles in the intervening spaces. The Horse may only move to the two positions ahead of it.

Footsoldier promotes to: Gold General
Footsoldiers (or “Foot”) move one step forward. They move to capture the same way as non-capturing.

Basic Observations on Strategy, part two

The Foot, Lance, and Horse cannot move away from the enemy at all, or even move sideways, until they are promoted. So from the starting position, the Foot must charge headlong at the enemy for at least four steps before promoting. A Horse must jump three times from his starting position to reach the promotion zone, although his swerving one file left or right stands him a better chance. An uncaptured Lance is confined to the farthest left and right flanks, so he is rarely important until he shoots straight into the promotion zone with one move. The Foot, Lance and Horse are all vulnerable to attacks from the sides, diagonals, and rear. They are much more useful when captured and dropped.


A tile other than a Gem or Gold may be flipped over to its more powerful version at the end of any move or capture which begins or ends in the enemy camp, or both begins and ends within the enemy camp.
Promotion may be postponed as long as desired, except that Lances and Footsoldiers are forced to promote on the last rank, and Horses are forced to promote on the last or second-to-last rank. These are the places from which their unpromoted forms have no further movement.
If you decide not to promote a tile in the enemy camp, it may not promote until you move it again.

Examples of Promotion

For your turn, a tile captured in your prison may be dropped onto an empty square. This completes your turn. Tiles may not be captured by dropping a tile on them. Tiles captured with the promoted side up are demoted in prison, and must fulfill promotion conditions again if dropped. Therefore, Footsoldiers and Lances may not drop onto the last rank, and Horses may not drop onto the last or second-to-last rank, where they would have to be promoted. A Footsoldier may not be dropped to threaten the opponent’s Gem, if doing so would win the game on the next turn. A Footsoldier may not be dropped on the same file as another unpromoted Footsoldier from the same army.


There is no draw by “stalemate” in Shogi, because there is no rule against the Gem moving into a threat from another tile. If the same board positions repeat three times in a row, the game is a draw.
The other condition in which the players agree to a draw is if a Gem enters the enemy camp on the far side of the board, and fortifies his position there sufficiently to fend off the few pieces who can move backward.

Basic Observations on Strategy, part three

To build a successful offense, set up multiple threats on the same enemy to prepare for an exchange of material. Your opponent may begin to accumulate supporters for the threatened tile. Even if you have the longest of this type of “chain,” beware of losing more valuable pieces in the exchange. Since the leader of the attack will fall to your enemy, lead with the weakest so that your strong piece will survive the exchange.
Another way to support your lead attacker is the “pin”. For example, if the only tile that could take your Gold is standing between your Chariot and his Gem, your Gold is safe. If he takes your Gold, you take his Gem, and he loses the game.
Defense is easier than offense in Shogi, because most of the tiles are so slow that they stay crowded around the Gem most of the game. This is called the castle. Look for chances to threaten two tiles at once with the same tile. This is called a fork, and guarantees that you can take one of them, and the more valuable one must move inconveniently.
There are three kinds of advantages to be gained in an exchange of tiles.
  1. Quantity and quality of tiles. In this game, your opponent’s loss is your gain. Numeric superiority makes Shogi a quick game.
  2. Strategic position. Not just your tiles: the drop rule reduces the the importance of getting them around the enemy in the midgame and endgame. You gain just as much by altering your opponents defensive position in preparation for your drops.
  3. The initiative. If you are constantly reacting to the moves of your opponent, then you have definitely lost the initiative.
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