Shogi game (picture by Andre Engels)

Shogi

Shogi is a Japanese variant of chess. Shogi was present in current form in the 16th century, so it's a pretty old game. It resembles Western chess perhaps a bit more than xiangqi, but has some pecularities. In general, shogi pieces are pretty slow, so the game begins very slowly. Things get heated and attrition never bites like in Western chess, because once you capture a piece, you can drop in on the board and it becomes your piece. This small change makes a huge difference.



Wooden Shogi Japanese Chess Game Table Set w Drawers
Wooden Shogi Japanese Chess Game Table Set w Drawers
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Time Remaining: 6d 5h 39m
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Shogi Japanese Chess Game Complete Set Wooden Board Plastic Tiles Strategy
Shogi Japanese Chess Game Complete Set Wooden Board Plastic Tiles Strategy
$27.99
Time Remaining: 5d 10h 45m

Japanese Chess Shogi 8 foldable magnetic mini board
Japanese Chess Shogi 8 foldable magnetic mini board
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Japanese Chess Board Game SHOGI Set HANAYAMA F S from Japan
Japanese Chess Board Game SHOGI Set HANAYAMA F S from Japan
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Time Remaining: 7d 2h 39m
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JAPANESE SHOGI wood Koma pieces with Box from Japan
JAPANESE SHOGI wood Koma pieces with Box from Japan
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Time Remaining: 26d 15h 18m
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Magnetic Wooden ShogiJapanese ChessGame Set Folding Board
Magnetic Wooden ShogiJapanese ChessGame Set Folding Board
$50.00
Time Remaining: 5d 19h 23m
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Japanese Chess Shogi paper chessboard wooden pieces with playing rules
Japanese Chess Shogi paper chessboard wooden pieces with playing rules
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Shogi A Game of Strategy Japanese Chess NEW Ishi Press International
Shogi A Game of Strategy Japanese Chess NEW Ishi Press International
$18.00
Time Remaining: 3d 4h 28m
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Japanese Chess Shogi Folding Wooden Board
Japanese Chess Shogi Folding Wooden Board
$19.99
Time Remaining: 12d 16h 20m
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NINTENDO JAPAN JAPANESE SHOGI Wood Koma Good
NINTENDO JAPAN JAPANESE SHOGI Wood Koma Good
$21.99
Time Remaining: 3d 4h 16m

IGOLAB JAPANESE SHOGI Wood Koma Board Set size6 from JAPAN
IGOLAB JAPANESE SHOGI Wood Koma Board Set size6 from JAPAN
$55.00
Time Remaining: 29d 16h 13m
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NEW SHOGI Japanese Chess Portable Set
NEW SHOGI Japanese Chess Portable Set
$13.18
Time Remaining: 7d 7m
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Dobutsu Shogi Lets catch Lion Japanese Chess Animal Shogi SIMPLIFIED Shogi
Dobutsu Shogi Lets catch Lion Japanese Chess Animal Shogi SIMPLIFIED Shogi
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Time Remaining: 29d 4h 16m
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Wooden Shogi Board
Wooden Shogi Board
$14.99
Time Remaining: 6d 16h 54m

Shogi  Chess magnetic pieces 2 in 1 foldable board
Shogi Chess magnetic pieces 2 in 1 foldable board
$29.26
Time Remaining: 5d 1h 2m
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Since both players can use the same pieces, shogi pieces aren't color-coded like chess pieces. The pieces lie flat on the board, with a pointed edge showing who controls them. They are double-sided, too, since all pieces can be promoted to better pieces on the opponent's end of the board.

Both players have 20 pieces and the board is 9 x 9, so the game is a bit larger than chess. However, this is not the largest version of shogi: largest known shogi game, taikyoku shogi, was played on 36 x 36 board. Each player has 402 pieces, 209 different types of pieces and 253 different ways to move the pieces. We can only assume the game was created by people with extraordinary amounts of free time. Smallest shogi game is dobutsu shogi, played on a 3 x 4 board. Tori shogi, played on a 7 x 7 board, is one of the most popular variants.

There are some Western shogi sets available. Most shogi sets, however, use Japanese calligraphy to mark the pieces. That's a bit of a barrier for most Western folks and the game may seem incredibly difficult to learn. It is not, but it takes some patience and dedication. Shogi, particularly with Japanese pieces, is not a game you can play casually every now and then, it takes dedicated players willing to put some effort into it. However, effort is rewarded, as shogi is a pleasing game and refreshing change to Western chess.

Most cheap Japanese shogi sets are actually pretty nice, with wooden pieces and clever wooden boards. The board is thin wood, placed on top of supporting pieces, so that there's hollow space beneath the board. That means the pieces make a really nice sound when they are placed on the board. Simple , but clever!