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Tabletop Game / Shōgi

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A shōgi board.
Shōgi is a strategy game of the same family as Xiangqi and Chess, and evolved in Japan. It is played on a 9x9 board.

  • The King (王) moves like in Chess and does not promote.
  • The Gold Generals (金) (each player starts with two) move one square orthogonally or one diagonally forward. They do not promote.
  • The Silver Generals (銀) (each player starts with two) move one square diagonally or one forward, like the Bishops in Makruk. They can promote to Gold General in rows 7, 8, or 9.
  • The Knights (桂) (each player starts with two) move two squares forward and one to the side. This means they have a maximum of two legal moves, and must promote to Gold General when they reach row 8 or 9. Like the Knights of Chess, they can jump pieces.
  • The Lances (香) (each player starts with two) can move any number of spaces forward, and must promote to Gold General when they reach row 9.
  • The Rook (飛) (each player starts with one) moves like in Chess. In rows 7, 8, or 9, it can promote to a Dragon King (竜), which can move like a Rook or a King.
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  • The Bishop (角) (each player starts with one), moves like in Chess. In rows 7, 8, or 9, it can promote to a Dragon Horse (馬), which can move like a Bishop or a King.
  • The Pawns (歩) (each player starts with nine, and can never have more than one in play on each file) move and capture one square forward. They must promote to Gold General when they reach row 9.

Unlike in other games of the Chaturanga family, players can return pieces they captured to the board. Promotable pieces can be promoted at any time in the opponent's home ranks. If a piece is captured, the promotion is undone.

Shogi is the most complex of the common chess variants; Feng Hsiung-Hsu, the initial creator of the series of computer systems that eventually became IBM's Deep Blue chess champion computer, has expressed an interest in creating a shogi system in the same vein should he ever get back into the computerized strategy gaming business.


This board game has examples of:

  • The Alleged Steed: The Knight's steed is only good for getting to the back rank.
  • Blessed with Suck: You can promote a Silver General, but a Gold General finds it harder to retreat if need be.
  • Brought Down to Normal: When a promoted piece is captured, it not only changes sides but becomes "un-promoted."
  • Expansion Pack: Numerous medieval variants played on increasingly large boards with increasingly baroque rulesets; some involve boards as large as 36x36, with each player controlling hundreds of pieces. These games are not so much played for entertainment as they are a meditation aid for monks.
  • Kyu and Dan Ranks: Like in Go, these are used in the professional scene. Amateur players in-training to become professionals through the Shoreikai system are ranked from 6 kyu to 3 dan. Kishi (i.e. professional players) rank from 4 dan to 9 dan.
  • Nerf: The Lances (in the Rooks' places in other games) and Knights are one-way movers.
  • Serious Business: Full-time professional players compete for big prizes in Japan.
  • The Shogi Master: You, if you’re good enough.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The Gold Generals have more spaces open than their Chaturanga counterparts, most of them orthogonal.
  • Turn Coat: Captured pieces switch sides. Since there is no limit to the number of times a piece can switch in this manner, it's possible for a piece to be in a Heel–Face Revolving Door.
  • Vehicular Turnabout: The strategy game allows you to bring back captured pieces on your side as early as your next turn. This is said to be inspired by the actions of mercenaries who would switch sides when captured, rather than be executed.

Examples of works featuring shogi:

  • Black Lagoon, a Japanese VIP can be seen playing shogi with one of the Nazi crewmen in the Nazi-sub flashbacks.
  • In Brave Fencer Musashi, to get to the thieves' hideout, the player has to follow the moves of Shogi pieces named in a coded message.
  • The game occasionally pops up as a thematic clue in Case Closed. Supporting character Shukichi Haneda (brother to Shuichi Akai and Masumi Sera) is a professional player, and almost always brings shogi-themed cases with him.
  • Shogi, Hasami Shogi and Gunjin Shoginote  are among the games included in Clubhouse Games. The sequel, 51 Worldwide Classics, features Shogi and Mini Shogi, a variation played on a smaller board.
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, Leo and Takumi discover they both like playing strategy games in their support conversations. Leo says chess is his favorite game, which Takumi tells him that shogi is chess's equivalent in Hoshido. Takumi also claims he's the best shogi player in his family.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, the characters of Heymans Breda and Vato Falman are introduced in a scene in which Breda is playing shogi and Falman explains what it is for the reader.
  • Heaven's Lost Property: Tomoki and Astraea play shogi at one point while having a Best Out of Infinity challenge.
  • A Lupin III: Part II episode, "Monkey King Business", has Lupin, Jigen and Goemon trapped and turned into human shogi pieces on a giant board. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • March Comes in Like a Lion is the story of Rei Kiriyama and how shogi has affected his life before and after becoming a professional player in middle school.
  • In My Neighbor Seki, Seki doesn't so much actually play shogi as create elaborate scenarios around shogi pieces, at one point pitting shogi pieces against chess pieces.
  • In Naruto, Shikamaru and Asuma often played shogi together. Asuma also used the game as a way of determining that his student was Brilliant, but Lazy and had been hiding his intellect by pretending to be Book Dumb. Shikamaru also played with his father.
  • In Persona 5, one of the Confidants, Hifumi Togo, is a professional shogi player, and her Confidant ranking begins with her teaching the protagonist how to play.
  • One anime-only story in Ranma ½ featured (of course) Martial Arts Shogi, in which combatants dress up as the pieces and then beat each other senseless.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: While guarding a politician from the killer Jin-e, Kenshin and Sanosuke play shogi to pass the time.
  • Shion no Ou revolves around shogi, much the way Hikaru no Go revolves around Go.
  • Shogi appears as a playable minigame in Yakuza: Like a Dragon; playing it is also the only way to get the Absolute Shield, one of the best weapons for the Enforcer job, without spending millions of yen.
  • The main enemies in the second part of Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches are the members of the school's shogi club. While they do play shogi, and at least one (Asuka) is good at it, it's mostly an excuse for them to have a base of operations for their more sinister goals.