Shogi, aka Japanese Chess, is an extremely fun and challenging variant of Chess. Actually the two versions of chess are cousins. Shogi, pronounced SHOW-gee with a hard ‘G’, is the western version of a game that was created in India several centuries ago. Chess is the European version of the same game.
Just as you have many variants on Western Chess, there are several variants of Shogi. The main version of shogi is played on an 9×9 square board (one bigger than chess). Japanese Chess tends to be a bit more challenging than Western Chess, but still very fun for beginners and masters alike.
One of the most interesting
Shogi rules is that tokens that are captured become the enemy’s pieces, and he can then drop them back on the board to strengthen his army. This adds a great deal of strategy to the game as pieces appear from seemingly nowhere to block checks or quickly promote.
I have a very rough beta version of shogi for play online. You can play it by clicking the image below. It will take you to the page, and let you play against the computer. The AI is a bit weak, but I’m working on fixing that in future versions.
Everyone’s introduction to shogi is unique. My introduction was from a friend that was Japanese. He was very tired of me beating him at Western chess, so one day he pulled out a Japanese chess board and said, Let’s try this for a while. He thoroughly beat me many times and then gave me the shogi board as a present.
This was in the days before the Internet, so wrote down the rules for future reference and taught my own children how to play when they were old enough to learn the rules of shogi.
I’m just getting started on this site, so keep checking back for updates.
I learned shogi a couple of years after finishing high school. I had just turned twenty, and a Japanese friend who was tired of losing chess games to me pulled out his shogi board and taught me Japanese Chess. Of course, he won all the shogi matches we played.
When he and I were no longer living together, we never found time to play shogi. This was in the days before the Internet, so finding anyone new to play shogi with was nearly impossible. So few Americans even know what shogi is, that it is very difficult to meet new shogi players.
My cat prefers to play ranging rook. In fact, all the pieces tend to range very quickly with her paws on the board.
Click here for the authoritative *.txt version of this document.
Portable Shogi Notation (PSN) Specification
(Draft 1 – accepting comments and CONSTRUCTIVE criticism)
(last updated, January 22, 2015)
compatibility with current Portable Shogi Notation file conventions
free opensource reference implementations in common programming languages to encourage compliance to current standard
information on *.kif to *.psn and *.psn to *.kif file format conversion
conventions for common and custom attribute/value declarations in game records
conventions for commenting games
conventions for recording standard and non standard shogi variations
This document and the PSN reference implementation are located at,
Rules For Creation of PSN Files
Clarity. Always mark a move with enough detail that the move is unambiguous.
Extraneous information is always optional. For instance, if stating the token and the final location makes it obvious what move took place, you are not required (though encouraged) to add information specifying what move resulted in the final location.
Ambiguous notation is deprecated. In older PSN files, you may see moves specified that could describe more than one possible move. In all cases, ambiguous move notation is unsupported in modern PSN.
I’m moving most of my Japanese Chess site over here while I’m migrating to a new server. I used to actually have a large shogi presence here on Gene Davis Software, but let it lapse. I’m working to bring back all the shogi fun to this site.
I’ve been seeing a lot more references to shogi in pop culture and books about chess these last few years. Also, lots of the latest generation reaching adulthood in the United States are familiar with Shogi, even if they don’t know the rules.
Recently, I found a whole section on shogi in pop culture on Wikipedia, which I was surprised was actually incomplete.
In the manga series
, shogi plays an essential part in Shikamaru Nara’s character development. He often plays it with his sensei, Asuma Sarutobi, apparently always beating him. When Asuma is fatally injured in battle, he reminds Shikamaru that the shogi king must always be protected, and draws a parallel between the king in shogi and his yet-unborn daughter, Mirai, whom he wanted Shikamaru to guide. Naruto
Shogi has been a central plot point in the manga and anime
, the manga and anime Shion no Ō , and the manga and television drama March Comes in Like a Lion . 81diver
In the manga and anime
, the information broker Izaya Orihara plays a twisted version of chess, go and shogi, where he mixes all three games into one as a representation of the battles in Ikebukuro. Durarara!!
In the video game
, the Star confidant is a high school shogi player looking to break into the ranks of the professionals. The player character will gain knowledge stat when spending time with the confidant, supposedly from learning to play shogi. The abilities learned from ranking up the confidant comes from Japanese shogi terms. Persona 5
I have to recommend
, by the way. You can find it on Crunchyroll I’ve been watching that anime recently. It’s about a young and rising professional shogi master. Absolutely, a must watch for any Japanese chess fan. March Comes in Like a Lion
It can be hard to remember how to record a game of shogi. I’ve created a quick cheat sheet below to make life easier.
The starting player is called “Black”, and the other player is called “White” when playing in English. Black is sometimes called “Sente” and White is sometimes called “Gote”. Don’t let Sente and Gote confuse you. They’re as different as black and white. (No I couldn’t resist.)
The top of the game record should state important information about the game such as who was Black and who played White. It should also state the date, the players’ rankings, if any, and also what handicap was used. For example:
Handicap: White gives Rook and Bishop
Date: 2 January 2007 Notation Symbols and Order
Shogi pieces are always indicated with capital letters. The letters used to represent the shogi pieces are:
Play Shogi Online
For a while it was hard to find sites to play shogi. There’s been an upswing in the number of sites for playing shogi and shogi variants in the last few years. Here is a list of some of the more popular shogi and shogi variant sites.
PlayOK – Shogi
Human vs Human play. The graphics aren’t great, but there’s usually a good crowd to play games against.
Human vs Human play. Includes standard shogi, handicaps, and several variants. Also, game analysis tools are included. This is a very nice site for serious students of shogi. I highly recommend this site.
Internet Shogi Dojo
Many will argue this is the best shogi site on the web. Plan on learning some Japanese if you want to take full advantage of this site.
Human vs Human. BrainKing offers a few shogi variants to play against other members. They’ve been around awhile. Basic membership is free.
Human vs Human. Little Golem has several shogi variants listed under open play (Infinity). The Championship and Monthly Cup areas seem a bit more limited.
SDIN Free Games
Human vs Human or Human vs Computer. SDIN Free Games has several shogi variants available for online play. You can play against the computer or against a player. Here’s what they offer.
Richard’s Play-By-eMail Server
Gamerz.net has several play-by-email for shogi variants, also some graphical interfaces for the same shogi severs. For those new to Gamerz play-by-email, their home page has an explanation of how it all works.
Play-by-email graphical interfaces …
These guys have tons and tons of shogi variants to play-by-email. Some are Java, so many modern computers refuse to run them.