DouShouQi, Jungle Chess

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Dou Shou Qi or Game of Fighting Animals (traditional Chinese: 鬥獸棋) is a traditional Chines board game. It is also known as Jungle Chess or Animal Chess.

The Board
The Jungle game board consists of 7 columns and 9 rows of squares. Pieces move on the square spaces as in international chess, not on the lines as in xiangqi.
There are several special squares and areas of the Jungle board: The Den (獸穴) is located in the center of the first row or rank of the board. Traps (陷阱) are located to each side and in front of the Den. Two water areas or Rivers (河川) are located in the center of the Jungle board. Each comprises six squares in a 2x3 rectangle. There are single columns or files of ordinary land squares on the edges of the board, and down the middle between the rivers.
Each player controls 8 pieces representing animals and place them on his side of the board, over their respective numbers.
The Pieces
Each side has 8 pieces representing different animals, each with a different rank. Higher ranking pieces can capture all pieces of identical or weaker ranking. However, there is one exception: The elephant may not capture the mouse while the rat may capture the elephant. The animal ranking, from strongest to weakest, is:

Object of the Game
The goal of the game is either to move a piece onto a special square, the den, on the opponent's side of the board, or capture all of the opponent's pieces.

Movement of the Pieces
Before the start of the game, players must decide by mutual agreement or by some random method who will be begin. All pieces have the same basic move, although some have special powers (described below). The basic move is just one space either forward, backward, left or right. The pieces never move diagonally.
During their turn, a player must move. A piece may not move to its own den.
There are special rules related to the water squares:
  • The Rat is the only animal that is allowed to go onto a water square.
  • The Rat may not capture the Elephant or another Rat on land directly from a water square.
  • The Rat may attack the opponent Rat in the water if both pieces are in the water.
  • A Rat on land may not attack a Rat in the water.
  • The Lion and Tiger pieces may jump over a river by moving horizontally or vertically. They move from a square on one edge of the river to the next non-water square on the other side. Such a move is not allowed if there is a Rat (whether or not friendly or enemy) on any of the intervening water squares. The Lion and Tiger are allowed to capture enemy pieces by such jumping moves.

An animal is captured (or “eaten”) by an opposing animal moving onto its square, as in chess. But the attacking animal must be of equal or higher power than the one being captured. For instance, the Tiger (6) can capture the Tiger (6), Leopard (5) or Dog (4), but the Dog cannot capture the Leopard or Tiger.
Animals capture the opponent pieces by "eating" them. A piece can capture any enemy piece which has the same or lower rank, with the following exceptions:
  • The Rat, although it is the least powerful piece, has the power to capture the Elephant. The Elephant cannot capture the Rat. It is said that this is because the rat can creep in under the Elephant’s ear and eat his brain (!)
  • The Rat, and no other animal, can move freely in the water. It cannot, however, attack the Elephant from the water.
  • Both the Lion and the Tiger can jump over the water, moving from one bank straight forward, backward, left or right (like a rook in chess) to the first square of dry land on the other side. They may capture in this move as well. The Lion and Tiger may not, however, jump over a rat if it is in the way, in the water.
  • The player may capture any enemy piece in one of the player's trap squares regardless of rank.
The Traps
Each side has three Trap squares surrounding its Den. A player may move on and off of his own Trap squares with no effect. If, however, a player moves onto the opponent’s trap square, that piece loses all of its power, and may be captured by any of the defending pieces.

The Den
Animals are not allowed to move into their own Dens. When an animal moves into the opponent’s Den, it has won the game.

There are some commonly played variations to the rules official as follows:
  • The Elephant may not kill the rat under any circumstances. This is because a mouse is able to dodge the attack of an elephant because of its size.
  • Some play the game with the Lion and Tiger being equally strong, and they can kill each other. This is the more modern version.
  • The Leopard may jump over the river horizontally but not vertically (due to its lesser strength than the Tiger or Lion). It cannot jump over a mouse in the river though.
  • All traps are universal. If an animal goes into a trap in its own region, an opponent animal is able to capture it regardless of rank difference if it is beside the trapped animal. The rules for being on one's own trap do vary.
  • Some play the Dog to be stronger than the Wolf.
  • There are variations in which the Lion is not able to jump across the river horizontally.
  • The rules for the Mouse to capture either the Elephant or Mouse from or into the water do vary.
  • There is a simplified version called Animal Checkers, which has no traps or rivers, and only the Mouse, Dog, Tiger and Elephant.
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