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.
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.
Shogi mating puzzles are called tsume. As is common knowledge, I wrote the first English tsume book ever published, just a few years ago. I thought about writing a second shogi mating puzzles book, but realized that not everyone has the money to buy a book. I opted instead to create an online collection of puzzles for everyone to study shogi for free.
I like the “free” part best.
I’ve been working on building my tsume database at http://japanesechess.org. Now I have hundreds of shogi mating problems of my own creation entered. A lot of people may not realize how many features the tsume database has. Not only are there hundreds of tsume puzzles to solve, but you can filter on search criteria, view them in random orders, change the board view to kanji, western, or other piece styles, and you can remove the label that tells you how many moves are required to mate the king.
This is one of the hundreds of tsume found in my free online tsume collection.
First off, this seems like a good place to mention the kanji for shogi. If you go looking up shogi in a japanese dictionary, remember that in Japanese, the pronunciation is actually “shougi” not “shogi”. Shogi has been in English long enough that the “u” was dropped from the name.
Now for the Japanese notation.
Don’t let it scare you, but Japanese use kanji. This puts off westerners who get really scared by all those lines. (I wonder, is there a phobia name for this?) Notation for Japanese shogi game records is very similar to western game notations.
First remember Japanese write two directions. Sometimes they write like in English, that would be from left to right and from top to bottom. Traditionally they write like Chinese, that would be from top to bottom and from right to left. Shogi game records usually are in the traditional top to bottom and from right to left.
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.
Tsumeshogi (詰将棋) is the shogi equivalent of chess puzzles. Chess puzzles and Japanese chess puzzles are both mentally stimulating, and just plain fun. Since I just finished creating my 200th tsume (詰) for my Japanese chess site, I figured this is a great time to share a few more of my thoughts on shogi (将棋) puzzles.
If your’e reading this, you probably know about my book on Japanese chess puzzles. I sell it on amazon and basically every other outlet worldwide. Creating all those puzzles for the book was a real eye opener. I learned a lot more about the movement of knights (桂馬), silver generals (銀将), and capturing kings (王) than I every knew before. The most exciting thing was learning novel ways that the pieces work together. The game is a lot more intricate than the rules imply.