How to play Shogi (Japanese Chess)
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The object of the game is to capture your opponent’s King. Setup. Layout the board. Each player sets out their pieces so the pointed end faces towards their opponent. All pieces start with the black side up and are arranged in the following order: Pawns are placed across the 3rd row. On the second row, place the Bishop on the second space in from the left and the Rook on the second space in from the right. On the bottom row, going from left to right, the order is: Lance, Knight, Silver General, Gold General, King, Gold General, Silver General, Knight, Lance. The opposing King will have an extra mark differentiating it. Pick a player to go first, then turns alternate.
On your turn, you must move 1 piece or drop 1 piece. The King can move 1 space in any direction. The Gold General can move 1 space in any direction except diagonally backwards. The Silver General can move one space diagonally in any direction or one space forward. The Knight can jump 1 space forward then 1 space diagonally forward. The Knight is the only piece allowed to jump over other pieces in its path. The Lance can move any number of free spaces forward. The Bishop can move any number of free spaces in any diagonal direction. The Rook can move any number of free spaces forward, backward, left, or right. A Pawn can only move 1 space forward.
Each player has a promotion zone on the farthest third of the board, the 3 rows that their opponent’s pieces started on. If a piece moves into, out of, or within the promotion zone, the player may choose to promote the piece at the end of the turn. Promotion is indicated by turning the piece over after a move, showing its promoted value, typically the red side.
The promoted Silver General, promoted Knight, promoted Lance, and the promoted Pawn can move as a Gold General, 1 space in any direction except diagonally backwards. The promoted Bishop can move any number of free spaces in any diagonal direction or 1 space forwards, backwards, left, or right. The promoted Rook can move any number of free spaces forward, backward, left, or right; or 1 space in any diagonal direction.
If a piece reaches the far side of the board so that it would no longer have a legal move on future turns, it must be promoted. Pieces remain promoted until they are captured.
Your pieces may not share a space with another piece but instead capture the first opponent’s piece they move into. Captured pieces are removed from the board and placed on the capturer’s side of the table in plain view of both players.
On your turn, instead of moving a piece, you may choose to add 1 of the pieces you have captured onto any vacant space on the board. This is called dropping a piece. The piece is always dropped with its un-promoted value face up. You may not drop a Pawn onto a column which already contains one of your unpromoted Pawns, but you are allowed to if that Pawn was promoted. A Pawn may not be dropped to give immediate checkmate, however, other pieces may be dropped to give immediate checkmate. No piece may be dropped onto a space from which it will have no possible future moves. If you drop a piece on the promotion zone, your piece does not get promoted until it moves on a future turn.
When your King is able to be captured during your opponent’s next turn it is called being in “check”. When your King is in check you must protect it and get it out of check. If it is impossible to save the King, then it is called checkmate. The first player to checkmate their opponent’s King, wins.