Shōgi [将棋(しょうぎ)](Japanese chess)

Shōgi[将棋(しょうぎ)](Japanese chess) is a Japanese board game for two players. Players play the game by moving pentagonal wooden pieces called "Koma[駒(こま)]" on a wooden board called "Shōgi-ban[将棋盤(しょうぎばん)]" on which 9×9 grids are drawn.

Shōgi(Initial position)
Shōgi(Initial position)


Each player has a set of 20 Komas which consists of 1 Gyokushō[玉将(ぎょくしょう)](Ōshō[王将(おうしょう)]), 1 Hisha[飛車(ひしゃ)], 1 Kakugyō[角行(かくぎょう)], 2 Kinshō[金将(きんしょう)], 2 Ginshō[銀将(ぎんしょう)], 2 Keima[桂馬(けいま)], 2 Kyōsya[香車(きょうしゃ)] and 9 Fuhyō[歩兵(ふひょう)].

Each Koma has different movement and when a player moves Koma to a grid where the opponent's Koma is put, the player can take it.

Generally, higher-ranked or superior person uses Ōshō and the other uses Gyokushō. A player who deprives Gyokushō(Ōshō) is the winner.

Movement of Shōgi's Koma.png
Movement of Shōgi's Koma(Player's home territory: downside)


When a Koma intrudes into the opponent's territory(3 columns from opponent's side), the player can choose to turn Koma(except Gyokushō and Kinshō) upside down or not.

Overturned Koma changes its name(Hisha → Ryūō[竜王(りゅうおう)], Kakugyō → Ryūma or Ryūme[竜馬(りゅうま or りゅうめ)], Ginshō → Narigin[成銀(なりぎん)], Keima → Narikei[成桂(なりけい)], Kyōsya → Narikyō[成香(なりきょう)] and Fuhyō → Tokin[と金(ときん)]) and each its movement also changes.

A player can use Koma which the player deprived of the opponent and put it on a empty grid according to the rule.


It is said that Shōgi originates from chaturanga in ancient India. Chaturanga is also the origin of chess and xiangqi[象棋] in China. It is thought that it was introduced into Japan by the Heian Period(794-1185).

The match of Sōkei Ōhashi[大橋宗桂(おおはしそうけい)] versus Sansa Hon'inbō[本因坊算砂(ほんいんぼうさんさ)] in 1607 is recorded as the oldest Shōgi game record in existence.



The above game is the most general way to play Shōgi and is also called Hon-shōgi[本将棋(ほんしょうぎ)]. But in Shōgi, there are various ways to play.

Hasami-shōgi[はさみ将棋] is a game only using Fuhyōs Each player deprives opponent's Koma by putting it between Komas. Shōgi-kuzushi[将棋崩し(しょうぎくずし)] is a game of taking away Komas without making sound from a pile of Komas.


Tendō[天童(てんどう)] City in Yamagata Prefecture is a major production area of Koma of Shōgi. In Tendō, the game of Shōgi using persons as Komas is held in April every year(It is called "Ningen-shōgi[人間将棋(にんげんしょうぎ)]".).

Ornamental Koma made in Tendō
Ornamental Koma made in Tendō

Tendō Park
Tendō Park: This is the venue of Ningen-shōgi.
photo by photolibrary






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