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Subject: Why this is my favorite game of the chess family rss

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Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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1. Introduction

While I am not perhaps a Chess fanatic, in many ways chess is the benchmark against which I gauge the depth of any other game. Yet giving credit where due, I am forced to admit that Shogi is my favorite game of the chess family. For terms and rules etc., I refer readers this discussion in which I introduce the game and am kindly corrected on one point by a commenter. While I cannot reasonably expect ever to attain a level of skill or (more so) experience in shogi on a par with what I have attained in chess over a lifetime of playing, shogi offers a comparable experience with a greater depth of complexity in game-play-- s point I intend to develop below.

I discovered shogi a number of years ago searching out traditional board games; this was how I first came across BGG. At the time, the files section did not have a printable set, but i made one that was playable if not beautiful. This led me to asking a friend for a real set for a birthday, and so I was given my set of pieces
and a separate shogi-ban they were made to fit.

What I quickly discovered was that shogi is chess as the game developed in Japan, and it retains its full level of complexity throughout the game. Whereas in standard chess, the end-game consists often of a relatively few number of pieces, in shogi no piece is eve entirely out of play. Exchanges do not eliminate the pieces taken from the game-- but hand them to the capturing players to be used in future.

2. Gameplay

Becuase I've already summarized the rules of this game elsewhere, I'm going to skip straight to gameplay.

Relative to chess, clearly the pieces are much less powerful individually. The only pieces which can attack an indefinite number of spaces are the hisha ("rook"), kakugyo ("bishop") and kyosha ("lance"). Even the keima ("knight") can move only forward. Yet the kinsho ("gold general") is generally regarded as the most powerful piece on the board for a reason.

The key mechanism in the game is the drop by which any captured piece may be used in lieu of moving a piece on the board by dropping it onto any empty space of the board in its unpromoted form, subject only to the restrictions that the piece must have a valid move from the space where it is dropped and that a second fuhyo ("pawn") cannot be dropped onto the same file where a player already has one.

This drop mechanism is why the beginning of every game sees both players making a defensive formation ("castle") round the "king" (osho or gyokusho). Suddenly a captured piece may blossom in the midst of one's own pieces, and so one has to be prepared to deal with any contingency.

At the same time, the drop mechanism means that any exchange could come back to haunt a player. Instead of automatically swapping pieces in a mindless bloodbath, one must think before initiating a series of moves which gives an opponent material to be used against one.

The relative weakness of the pieces individually once on the board is functionally a necessity to ensure balance, but the game works very well.
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Testy Testerson
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Interesting! I've been meaning to look into Shogi and your review has pushed me over the edge. Thanks!
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Michael Kandrac
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A very good discussion of the game's characteristics. As someone who grew up with chess and participated on several levels competitively (high school club, college club, city club and high school sponsor/coach) I have the highest regard for chess, especially its art and history. Because of the dropping of pieces into the board, the Shogi board never empties out as it does in western chess. There is never an endgame, only a middle game where the victor is ultimately determined..

At this point in my life, given a choice, I prefer to play Shogi.

Gg
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Russ Williams
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I've been interested in Shogi for a long time and finally got around to buying a set recently. Now (perhaps somewhat absurdly) I find the kanji characters on the pieces to be a practical hurdle (both for myself, and for trying to interest friends in trying the game), as they are surprisingly difficult to remember and distinguish for those not previously familiar with them.

I am tempted to acquire or improvise some easier-to-read internationalized pieces, e.g. the western chess style design by Hidetchi looks pleasing and functional:
http://wiki.81squareuniverse.com/index.php?title=Internation...

Any thoughts or words of wisdom on this issue?
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Simon Blome
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russ wrote:
I've been interested in Shogi for a long time and finally got around to buying a set recently. Now (perhaps somewhat absurdly) I find the kanji characters on the pieces to be a practical hurdle (both for myself, and for trying to interest friends in trying the game), as they are surprisingly difficult to remember and distinguish for those not previously familiar with them.

I am tempted to acquire or improvise some easier-to-read internationalized pieces, e.g. the western chess style design by Hidetchi looks pleasing and functional:
http://wiki.81squareuniverse.com/index.php?title=Internation...

Any thoughts or words of wisdom on this issue?

I have bought the Elephant Chess Pieces (www.elephantchess.com/) and they were very helpful for teaching. The yellow background color is not very appealing but when used only for teaching purposes they are fine.
I would recommend to switch to kanji pieces after a few games, no matter which type of symbolized pieces you use at the start. It is far more attractive to play with the traditional kanji symbols and you get better quality pieces in specialized shops.
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Rio Malaschitz
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russ wrote:
Any thoughts or words of wisdom on this issue? :)


I bought http://shop.nekomado.com/products/detail.php?product_id=12 . It is really great. I was able to play handicap shogi game with my children more or less immediately.
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Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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russ wrote:
I've been interested in Shogi for a long time and finally got around to buying a set recently. Now (perhaps somewhat absurdly) I find the kanji characters on the pieces to be a practical hurdle (both for myself, and for trying to interest friends in trying the game), as they are surprisingly difficult to remember and distinguish for those not previously familiar with them.

I am tempted to acquire or improvise some easier-to-read internationalized pieces, e.g. the western chess style design by Hidetchi looks pleasing and functional:
http://wiki.81squareuniverse.com/index.php?title=Internation...

Any thoughts or words of wisdom on this issue?
The link in the article for the rules also describes how to identify the pieces easily in the kanji form.
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Paul DeStefano
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It's a Zendrum. www.zendrum.com
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I ran the Shogi Club in Junior High.

I haven't played in years.

Loved the game, but would have to relearn it.
 
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Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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Geosphere wrote:
I ran the Shogi Club in Junior High.

I haven't played in years.

Loved the game, but would have to relearn it.

The game's well worth the effort.
 
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Sean Shaw
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Nice highlight of a great game.
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Ben .
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Go BIG or go home!

ninja
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Michael Kandrac
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Snooze_uk wrote:
Go BIG or go home!

ninja


Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) has an abstract counterpart!

Gg
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Russ Williams
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Snooze_uk wrote:
Go BIG or go home!

That version is even in the BGG database. The setup:


I have crazy dreams of playing it someday...

...after I have some competence in normal Shogi.
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George Leach
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Malaschitz wrote:
russ wrote:
Any thoughts or words of wisdom on this issue?


I bought http://shop.nekomado.com/products/detail.php?product_id=12 . It is really great. I was able to play handicap shogi game with my children more or less immediately.


I second this suggestion. I find the kanji busy and an unnecessary hurdle for every potential opponent I might have. So, even if I learn them I'm still stuck with online play, in which case I don't need a board. The Dobutsu pieces are cute so a great future investment for ypung gamers.
 
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Russ Williams
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As a followup: we've been playing Mini Shogi every day this month, with kanji pieces. It is a nice way to get used to the kanji in a "smaller environment" (5x5 board; only 6 types of pieces instead of all 8; each player starts with only 6 pieces in play).

It's a fun small variant in its own right, and we're finding it's a nice way to get some experience with basic tactics (e.g. ways to mate via series of drops) without being overwhelmed by a 9x9 sea of 40 pieces with kanji on them...
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Complete & Sufficient Statistician
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russ wrote:
As a followup: we've been playing Mini Shogi every day this month, with kanji pieces. It is a nice way to get used to the kanji in a "smaller environment" (5x5 board; only 6 types of pieces instead of all 8; each player starts with only 6 pieces in play).

It's a fun small variant in its own right, and we're finding it's a nice way to get some experience with basic tactics (e.g. ways to mate via series of drops) without being overwhelmed by a 9x9 sea of 40 pieces with kanji on them...


Overall, I prefer Shogi over Mini Shogi, but it takes a while to play, so Mini Shogi is a great quick fix. However, it has a very different feel.

I see Shogi as a game that slowly escalates with long, careful planning and gradually builds to a climax. Xiangqi is the opposite. It throws you right into a bloodbath. Chess is in between. In this sense, I feel like Mini Shogi is most like Xianggi and far from the original Shogi in terms of feel. It's like having a knife fight with your wrist tied to your opponent's.
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