Recommend
31 
 Thumb up
 Hide
4 Posts

Xiangqi» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A Chess Lovers Review rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Kevin Loughran
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Welcome to my first review for BGG, hope you like it! This was inspired by the Geeklist http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/28968


Xiangqi (or Hsiang Chi) is the Chinese member of the Chess family of games which includes Shogi, Makrook and Chess (or Western Chess), the game most Americans and Europeans are familiar with. While all three share many similarities, the differences between them make for distinct and exciting game play.

A key difference from Western Chess is the game board, which is divided into two halves by a “river” and includes a “castle” a 3x3 area which the king and his advisors cannot leave. Also, the pieces are placed on the intersections of squares, rather than the squares themselves making a 9x9 playing field. The river denotes a boundary which cannot be crossed by one piece (the elephant) and also the promotion zone, upon crossing which pawns gain additional moves. The castle is the central domain of the king and game play revolves around checkmating him there in a manner similar to chess. While it is not my intent to go too deeply into the rules of Xiangqi, an interesting rule is that the two opposing kings may not face each other across an open file (i.e. without at least one intervening piece) and a common motif in mating patterns is attempting to force the opponents king onto such a file.

The pieces move somewhat similarly to their Western Chess counterparts, except that the knight piece may not jump (and may therefore be blocked or prohibited from moving), the ‘bishop’ piece (called the elephant) moves two squares diagonally and may not cross the river, and there is a unique piece, the ‘pao’ or cannon, which to my mind is the most fun aspect of the game. The cannon moves like a rook, vertically or horizontally an unlimited number of ‘squares’, but may only capture by jumping over another piece!

Gameplay often revolves around a combination of rooks (which move and capture exactly like Western Chess rooks) and cannons lining up in various combinations in order to force checkmate and often, a game can be decided by whomever successfully invades his opponents side of the river with a knight, which can be deadly in a final assault on the castle because of its ability to guard two points while providing a ‘fulcrum’ for the cannon to leap over in a devastating mating attack. Furthermore, unlike the slow positional play of Western Chess with it’s many varieties of defenses and slow conversion of slight advantages or Shogi, with it’s drops and mating races, Xiangqi is a very tactical game of threat and counterthreat with mates seemingly around every corner after just a few moves. Most games of Xiangqi (and I’ve played hundreds) rarely last more than an hour, even with the most ‘deliberate’ of opponents and the rules are simple enough to be easily explained in just a few minutes.

While Xiangqi sets may be purchased which have been “westernized” to show pictures of cannons, soldiers, kings, etc… I highly recommend buying a real Chinese set. It only takes a few moments of memorization to learn the ideograms as they are unique and easily identified, but also it adds to the ambience and flavor to play the game in the form millions of players around the world enjoy it in. And as a final bonus, if you ever find yourself lost in the Middle Kingdom, a game of infinite variety and pleasure is available in almost any park or café.

As a final word, if you enjoy Western Chess or Shogi, or any other abstract game for that matter I highly recommend:

XIANGQI

Enjoy!
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Manabu Terao
Japan
Tokyo
flag msg tools
Kurnik(http://www.kurnik.org/intl/en/) and Brainking.com(http://brainking.com/) are the game-servers where you can play XiangQi, Western chess, and shogi at one place. Both give you the choice to use whether 'Westernized' or traditional pieces in XiangQi and shogi. It may be interesting to play those three for comparison there by yourself before and after reading the good article above by kevlar56.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Richard Hutnik
United States
Albany
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I believe there is need for some transition set to help people learn the Chinese set. Each piece has too symbols for it.

By the way this website is also a place to play Chinese Chess:
http://www.worldmindmasters.net/
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Poon
Canada
Vancouver
British Columbia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Kevlar56 wrote:

A key difference from Western Chess is the game board, which is divided into two halves by a “river” and includes a “castle” a 3x3 area which the king and his advisors cannot leave. Also, the pieces are placed on the intersections of squares, rather than the squares themselves making a 9x9 playing field.


Just a note that the board is 9x10 spaces; almost 50% bigger than Western Chess, but with the same number of pieces. This, I find, contributes greatly to the more aggressive pace you described.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.