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Tabletop Game / Shōgi

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

  • The King (王) (each player starts with one, initially in the middle of row 1) moves like in Chess and does not promote.
  • The Gold Generals (金) (each player starts with two, initially on row 1 on either side of the King) move one square orthogonally or one diagonally forward. They do not promote.
  • The Silver Generals (銀) (each player starts with two, initially on the outer sides of the Gold Generals) 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, initially on the outer sides of the Silver Generals) 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, initially in the corners of row 1) 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, initially on row 2, three spaces to the right of the middle) 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.
  • The Bishop (角) (each player starts with one, initially on row 2, three spaces to the left of the middle), 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, initially on every file of row 3, 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 drop a captured piece, that is, return the piece to the board as the player's own piece. 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:

  • Abstract Strategy Game: The theming is minimal, the rules are fairly simple, and the course of a game is dictated entirely by the players' actions.
  • Adaptational Badass: The Gold Generals have more spaces open than their Chaturanga counterparts, most of them orthogonal.
  • The Alleged Steed: The Knight's steed is only good for getting to the back rank.
  • Blessed with Suck: Silver Generals, Knights and Lances all lose their original moves when premoted, some of them quite useful.
  • 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.
  • Mook Promotion: Almost all pieces can promote and promotion happens dozens of times in a single game.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: Typically the sacrifice of a pawn marks the end of the relatively "peaceful" opening and the beginning of the more "violent" midgame. Number of captures increases significantly after this point.
  • Nerf: The Lances (in the Rooks' places in other games) and Knights are one-way movers.
  • Suicide Attack: Due to the drop rule, sacrificing your pieces could backfire horribly as they join the enemy force against you. However, suicide attacks still happens a lot:
    • In checkmates, since checkmates end the game immediately and the sacrificed pieces will have no chance to get back at you. Shogi checkmates usually involve pouring all pieces in your hand onto the board in an attempt to drown the enemy king.
    • To pawns. Pawns are more expendable than other pieces for various reasons, one of them being that shogi pawns can not support each other in both attacking and defending, thus merely increasing the number of pawns in the opponent's hand makes little difference.
  • Serious Business: Full-time professional players compete for big prizes in Japan.
  • Surprise Checkmate: Most shogi games end in this, either amateur or professional, unlike chess.
  • 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.
  • Uniqueness Rule: Players are not allowed to drop a pawn on any file on which they have another unpromoted pawn already in play. This makes it impossible to create chains of pawns that protect the pawn in front of them.
  • 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 of the treasures found in Pikmin 2, the Boss Stone, is a King piece.
  • 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.
  • Videssos features an unnamed board game that is clearly supposed to be shogi, with the names of the pieces changed slightly (e.g., silver pieces and gold pieces rather than silver and gold generals).
  • In When Will Ayumu Make His Move?, most of the main cast are members of their school's unofficial shogi club, with Ayumu and Urushi initially being its sole members until Takeru and Rin join, making the club official.
  • Shogi appears as a playable minigame in the Like a Dragon franchise, being introduced in the second game. 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. In Gaiden Game Judgment, "Puzzle Shogi" is introduced, which gives you a preset board and requires you to win within a certain number of moves.
  • 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.