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.
All these features make for a fun and challenging experience that is completely customizable. However, all the tsume database features do no good, if users don’t know how to customize it. So, here’s a few tips on how to take full advantage of the tsume collection I’ve made available.
The most obvious feature is the “Show Solution” button just below the tsume puzzle. Don’t click that button until you want to see the tsume puzzle’s solution. When you click the “Show Solution” button, a dialog pops up in the window showing you the solution to the tsume and alternate moves you should have also found.
One of the least obvious features of the tsume collection is that the board resizes based on the width and height of your web browser. For browsers on mobile devices, that means the tsume board is typically viewable on your device without resizing. On traditional computers, you can resize the viewable area of your web browser to change the viewable size of the tsume shogi board.
A lot of avid shogi players have older eyes that need just a little help. The resizing board for the tsume puzzles allows anyone, even those with poor eyesight, to view the puzzle comfortably. It’s also a great feature if you don’t feel like finding your glasses, but want to do a few tsume.
Above each tsume puzzle, you can find a tsume ID number. This provides an easy way to find a tsume again, if you want to re-try at it on another visit. Just make a note of the ID number, and then use the “Navigate to a Specific Tsume” search lower down on the page to get back to that tsume that’s been nagging at you.
Once you navigate to a specific tsume, you can bookmark the webpage, or send the webpage’s link to a friend and they will find themselves directed to that specific tsume puzzle. The reason is that the website contains the tsume ID in the address. That makes sharing your favorite tsume easy as copying the link to the page you’re on.
Below the tsume ID is a description specifying the number of moves needed to put the king in checkmate. Knowing the number of moves needed for a checkmate is great for new shogi players, but more experienced shogi enthusiasts won’t like knowing the number of moves in the tsume solution. That is why, further down on the page there is an option to “Hide moves needed to complete tsume”. Selecting that checkbox and clicking on the “Update Settings” button will remove the move-count description just below the the tsume ID.
Just above the tsume shogi puzzle, you will find the navigation links. “<<<” jumps to the newest tsume in the collection. “<–” reveals the next newest tsume in the collection based off the current tsume you are viewing. “>>>” jumps to the oldest tsume in the collection. “–>” goes to the next oldest tsume in the collection based off the tsume you are viewing. “Random”, randomly selects a tsume to view. Also, “<–” and “–>” wrap to the beginning or end of the collection if you run out of tsume to view.
These links are constrained by the filters you’ve set up for viewing the tsume puzzles. (I’ll describe those filters in a moment.) That way you can randomly view a tsume that is at your skill level.
Tsume in the collection are viewable in four different formats: traditional kanji, Western style, Davis style, and text. Many people playing shogi don’t feel comfortable with Japanese kanji, so having three other alternative shogi piece styles helps make the tsume collection a bit more enjoyable to browse.
To change the board style, select the radio button next to the style you want to change the board to, and click the “Change Style” button.
Filtering tsume complexity is one of my favorite features of the tsume collection. Tsume difficulty is usually described based off the number of moves required to checkmate white’s king. Moves in shogi are often referred to as plies in the Western chess world. For example, if black puts white in check, then white moves out of check, and black puts white in checkmate, that tsume is considered a 3-move tsume.
Currently, the tsume puzzles in the collection range in difficulty from one-move-to-mate all way up to nine-moves-to-mate. Beginners often only want one-move puzzles, so they can unselect 3, 5, 7, and 9-move, then click the “Update Settings” button. After clicking the “Update Settings” button, you will see a new tsume puzzle, if the one you were looking at before did not meet your filter criteria.
Once you’ve got the tsume database set up the way you like it, bookmark the page. Your custom settings will be preserved for use every time you visit that bookmark. All the settings are part of the actual web page link, so you don’t even need cookies enabled to keep your favorite configuration!
As you can see, there are a lot of features and filters available when browsing the tsume collection. Remember to keep checking back, because I add many new tsume every week.