I believe every chess player should learn and play a few games of Shogi (Japanese chess). If you hate draws, like games that encourage attack and want a game computers still suck at, Shogi is perfect. Here’s some of the cool features about it:

Any piece you capture, you are able to bring it back into play on your side. It’s like single-player bughouse.

No matter how tough the defense, a well-executed attack will eventually beat it. A player that does not attack WILL lose.

In an evenly matched game, often both players will end up with imminent checkmate threats. The player with the move is forced to give check every single turn, or lose. These positions are very exciting to play.

Draws occur very infrequently.

It’s nearly worthless to consider material balance; the activity and disposition of the pieces is far more important. Sacrifices are regular and expected features of a match. A handicap of a Rook and a Bishop is a lot in chess. In Shogi, this would not be a huge deal.

In fact, if you gave a handicap of your entire army, leaving just your Jade General (King), you can theoretically still win.

Most pieces are able to be promoted, promotions happen more frequently, and in some cases they are optional. They’re not as game breaking as in chess (something like promoting a Knight or Bishop to a Rook)

In chess, exchanges favor the side with extra material. In Shogi, exchanges can be used to improve a weak position.

Computers aren’t so good at Shogi. Due to pieces coming back into play, there are many more possible positions to consider, limiting the power of brute force searches.

3 thoughts on “The coolest things about Shogi

  1. @Q: Yes, I’ve played Go, but not for some time; it’s pretty good. I didn’t know Andrew played as well. By now, I wouldn’t be able to give either those guys any decent competition.

    @Derek: It looks like the rebellion has finally started 😀

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