Shogi Shogi variants

Tai shogi

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 six 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

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

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

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

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, 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), 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

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

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

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, x). 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

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

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

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

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)

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)

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

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 notation xxxayyyK stands for an xxxK move followed by an yyyK move, not necessarily in the same direction. Larger numbers of 'legs' can be indicated by repeated application of 'a'. Directional modifiers on continuation legs must be interpreted relative to the previous leg, where 'f' means 'continue in the same direction'; default is 'all directions'. The default modality of the final leg is the usual 'mc', but on non-final legs also includes a hop over an obstacle at their end-point, provided the path does not bend back onto itself there. Other (combinations of) modalities must be written explicitly. 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

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

It may move into or remain in check (not recommended).

Hook mover 鉤行 kōgyō

Long-nosed goblin 天狗 tengu

Capricorn 摩𩹄 makatsu

This means the Capricorn can only reach half the squares on the board.

Peacock 孔雀 kujaku

         
         
     
     ?    
     
         
             

Soaring eagle 飛鷲 hijū

Horned falcon 角鷹 kakuō

Free king 奔王 honnō

Rushing bird 行鳥 gyōchō

Free demon 奔鬼 honki

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

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

Flying Ox 飛牛 higyū

Soldier 兵士 heishi

Dragon king 龍王 ryūō

Dragon horse 龍馬 ryūme

Side chariot 走車 sōsha

Rook 飛車 hisha

Bishop 角行 kakugyō

Because it cannot move orthogonally, an unpromoted bishop can only reach half the squares on the board.

Lion 獅子 shishi

Or,
Note: The restrictions when capturing a lion in chu shogi do not apply in tai shogi.

White horse 白駒 hokku

Whale 鯨鯢 keigei

Standard bearer 前旗 zenki

Vermillion sparrow 朱雀 suzaku

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

Turtle-snake 玄武 genbu

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

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

White tiger 白虎 byakko

Right chariot 右車 usha

Left chariot 左車 sasha

Side dragon 横龍 ōryū

Dove 鳩槃 kyūhan

She-devil 夜叉 yasha

Golden bird 金翅 kinshi

Great dragon 大龍 dairyū

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

                 
                 
               
               
           
           
             
                 

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

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

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

Guardian of the Gods 金剛 kongō

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

Golden deer 金鹿 konroku

Silver hare 銀兎 ginto

Fierce eagle 猛鷲 mōjū

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

Violent ox 猛牛 mōgyū

Flying dragon 飛龍 hiryū

Because it cannot move orthogonally, a flying dragon can only reach half the squares on the board.

Old rat 老鼠 rōso

Enchanted badger 変狸 henri

Flying horse 馬麟 barin

Prancing stag 踊鹿 yōroku

Violent bear 猛熊 mōyū

Side mover 横行 ōgyō

Vertical mover 竪行 shugyō

Phoenix 鳳凰 hōō

Kirin 麒麟 kirin

Because of its unusual movement, an unpromoted kirin can only reach half the squares on the board.

Reverse chariot 反車 hensha

Poisonous snake 毒蛇 dokuja

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

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

Southern barbarian 南蛮 namban

Eastern barbarian 東夷 tōi

There contradictory claims for the moves of the eastern barbarian:
(This is symmetrical with the movement of the western barbarian.)
(Three directions are omitted compared to the English sources.)

Western barbarian 西戎 seijū

Blind bear 盲熊 mōyū

Drunk elephant 醉象 suizō

Neighbor king 近王 kinnō

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

Free tiger 奔虎 honko

Blind monkey 盲猿 mōen

Ferocious leopard 猛豹 mōhyō

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

Reclining dragon 臥龍 garyū

Free dragon 奔龍 honryū

Chinese cock 淮鶏 waikei

Old monkey 古猿 koen

Evil wolf 悪狼 akurō

Free wolf 奔狼 honrō

Angry boar 嗔猪 shincho

Cat sword 猫刄 myōjin

Because it cannot move orthogonally, a cat sword can only reach half the squares on the board.

Free cat 奔猫 honmyō

Coiled serpent 蟠蛇 banja

Free serpent 奔蛇 honja

Dark spirit 無明 mumyō

The dark spirit has asymmetric options for movement.

Deva 提婆 daiba

The deva has asymmetric options for movement.

Right general 右将 ushō

Left general 左将 sashō

Gold general 金将 kinshō

Free gold 奔金 honkin

Silver general 銀将 ginshō

Free silver 奔銀 hongin

Copper general 銅将 dōshō

Free copper 奔銅 hondō

Tile general 瓦将 gashō

Free tile 奔瓦 honga

Iron general 鉄将 tesshō

An unpromoted iron general that reaches the farthest rank is trapped.

Free iron 奔鉄 hontetsu

An unpromoted free iron that reaches the farthest rank is trapped.

Wood general 木将 mokushō

An unpromoted wood general that reaches the farthest rank is trapped.

Stone general 石将 sekishō

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

An unpromoted free stone that reaches the farthest rank is trapped.

Earth general 土将 doshō and go-between 仲人 chūnin

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

Knight 桂馬 keima

An unpromoted knight that reaches one of the two farthest ranks is trapped.

Howling Dog 𠵇犬 kiken

Donkey 驢馬 roba

Note: English-language sources show only a jump forward or backward, and a step only sideways. (rlWfbD)

Ram’s-head soldier 羊兵 yōhei

An unpromoted ram's-head soldier that reaches the farthest rank is trapped.

Lance 香車 kyōsha

An unpromoted lance that reaches the farthest rank is trapped.

Pawn 歩兵 fuhyō

An unpromoted pawn that reaches the farthest rank is trapped.

Promotion

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

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

Teaching king 教王 kyōō

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

Furious fiend 奮迅 funjin

Wizard stork 仙鶴 senkaku

Mountain witch 山母 sambo

Square mover 方行 hōgyō

Fragrant elephant 香象 kōzō

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

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

Free boar 奔猪 honcho

Bat 蝙蝠 kōmori

Check and mate

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

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

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.

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Tabletop games: Rules and Strategy