XiangQi

Overview
XiangQi (also known as Chinese chess) is a two-player board game in the same family as Western chess, Chaturanga, Japanese Shogi, and Korean Janggi, and is the most popular of a family of chess variants native to China.

Objective
The goal of XiangQi is to attack the opponent's King in such a way that the opponent cannot escape from the attack and cannot block it on his next turn. A player also wins if he stalemates the opponent, i.e. leaves the opponent without legal moves on his turn.

Pieces

At the beginning of the game one of the players has 16 red pieces and another player has 16 black pieces. Each piece has its name written on its surface in the form of Chinese characters. "Westernized" pieces with iconic pictures can also be used.

Red pieces Black pieces
or - the General or - the General
or - two Advisors or- two Advisors
or - two Elephants or- two Elephants
or - two Horses or- two Horses
or - two Chariots or- two Chariots
or - two Cannons or- two Cannons
or - five Soldiers or- five Soldiers

 

Board

XiangQi is played on a square board with 9 vertical and 10 horizontal lines.

There are two special zones of 3x3 points located at the middle of the opposite sides of the board. Each of these zones is called a Palace.

There is another special zone between the 5th and 6th lines, which is called the River. The River has special meaning for Soldiers and Elephants.

The initial position of the pieces on the board is shown on the next picture:

Traditional Chinese pieces "Westernized" pieces

 

 

Play

Players move alternatively, starting from the Red player.

No piece can move to a point occupied by another piece of the same player.

If a piece moves to a point occupied by an enemy piece the latter is considered to be captured and removed from the board. The capture is not mandatory, i.e. if one of the player's pieces can capture some enemy piece it's not required to do so.

If a piece A can capture an enemy piece B it's said that the A attacks B or that the B is under attack.

The General is said to be "in check" if it is under attack of some enemy piece (even if the attacking piece cannot move for some reason).

A player may never leave his General "in check" at the end of his move. The "in check" situation can be eliminated in one of the following ways:

  • The General can move to a point that is not under attack.
  • The attacking enemy piece can be captured by one of the player's pieces (even by the General, if doing so does not put the General in check).
  • The attack can be blocked by placing another player's piece between the General and attacking enemy piece.
  • If the attacking piece is a Cannon and its platform (see Cannon) is a player's piece then the player can eliminate the enemy Cannon's attack by moving the platform away.

It is also forbidden to make a move that leaves two Generals on the same vertical line without any other piece standing between them.

All possible moves for each type of the pieces are explained below.


The General can move one point horizontally or vertically that is not under attack. It is considered that these points are under attack even if the attacking piece cannot move for some reason. The General may not leave the Palace. The following illustration shows possible moves for a Generals (please note, that this example doesn't take into account possible checks or moving two Generals to the same vertical line without any piece standing between them):


The Advisor can move one point diagonally. Advisors cannot leave the Palace. The following illustration shows possible moves for Advisors:


The Elephant can jump two points diagonally in any of four possible directions if the intervening point is empty. Elephants may not cross the River. The following illustration shows possible move for the Red Elephant (please note that the Elephant cannot jump in the lower right direction because Elephants cannot jump over other pieces and the Elephant cannot jump in the upper left and in the upper right directions because Elephants cannot cross the River):


The Horse moves one point vertically or horizontally and then one point diagonally away from its original position. The Horse does not jump over other pieces as the Knight does in Western chess, so if there is a piece standing on a point horizontally or vertically adjacent to the Horse, then the Horse's movement is blocked in that direction. The following illustration shows possible moves for Horses (note that some piece is blocking the Red Horse on the right so the Horse cannot jump to the points marked with red crosses):


The Chariot can move any number of empty points horizontally or vertically. The Chariot cannot jump over other pieces. The following illustration shows possible moves for a Chariot :


The Cannon  move like the Chariots, i.e. any number of empty points horizontally or vertically and it captures enemy pieces in a different way from the other pieces. The Cannon captures by jumping over exactly one piece (either friendly or enemy) and landing on the enemy piece that is going to be captured. The Cannon cannot jump over intervening pieces if not capturing another piece, nor may it capture without jumping. The following illustration shows possible moves for the Red Cannon (please note that the Cannon can capture two black pieces by jumping over a single piece of any color but the same Cannon cannot make a non-capturing move by jumping over a piece neither can it capture a black piece without jumping):


The Soldier can move one point forward on the same vertical line. After crossing the River the Soldier can also move one point in the horizontal direction. The following illustration shows some examples of possible moves for Soldiers before and after the River :

Perpetual Checking and Chasing

There are two special situations in XiangQi:


"Perpetual checking" is a situation when a player makes a series of moves giving check to the enemy General with one or several pieces. The series of checks is called perpetual in the following cases:

  • if the player makes 6 consecutive "checking" moves with the same piece.
  • if the player makes 12 consecutive "checking" moves with the same two pieces.
  • if the player makes 18 consecutive "checking" moves with the same three pieces.

Making such moves results in the player's loss unless his opponent makes the same "perpetual checking", in which case the game ends in a draw.


"Perpetual chasing" is a situation when a player makes a series of moves attacking ("chasing") the same enemy piece with one or several pieces. It is also a chase when a player's piece moves and results in a player's Cannon attacking an enemy piece. The series of chasing moves is called perpetual in the following cases:

  • if the player makes 6 consecutive "chasing" moves with the same piece.
  • if the player makes 12 consecutive "chasing" moves with the same two pieces.
  • if the player makes 18 consecutive "chasing" moves with the same three pieces.

There are some attacks, which are not treated as "chasing":

  • It is not a chase when a General or a Soldier attacks some enemy piece.
  • It is not a chase when a player's piece attacks an enemy Soldier when it hasn't crossed the River yet.
  • It is not a chase when a player's piece attacks an enemy piece that is protected by another enemy piece.
  • It is not a chase when a player's piece attacks an enemy piece of the same type in such a way that the enemy piece can also capture the player's piece in the next move.

"Perpetual chasing" results in the player's loss unless his opponent makes the same "perpetual chasing", in which case the game ends in a draw.

End of Game

If a player puts an enemy General in check and the opponent cannot eliminate it on his next move, then the game ends and the player wins. Such position is called a checkmate. On the following picture the black General  is in check (under attack of red Horse) and there is no way for blacks to escape from this situation or capture the attacking piece (the Black General cannot move to the right because that point is under attack of the Red Chariot, neither can blacks block the attacking Red Horse or capture it with one of the black Advisors because moving that Advisor opens the General to the attack of the Red Cannon):

A player also wins if he stalemates the opponent, i.e. leaves the opponent without legal moves on his turn.

A player loses the game if he gives a perpetual check to his opponent without the opponent doing the same thing (i.e. making moves that block the player's check and result in checking the player's General).

A player also loses the game if he perpetually chases one of the enemy pieces without the opponent doing the same thing (i.e. chasing one of the player's pieces the same time).

If both players give perpetual check or perpetually chase then the game ends up in a draw.

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