xiangqi(chinese chess) rules
Posted by SA Chess at April 12th, 2013
Rules of the xiangqi(chinese chess) game
Xiangqi is played on a board that is nine lines wide and ten lines long. In a manner similar to the game Go(Wéiqí 圍棋), the pieces are played on the intersections, which are known as points. The vertical lines are known as files, while the horizontal lines are known as ranks.
Centered at the first through third and eighth through tenth ranks of the board are two square zones. The three point by three point zone is demarcated by two diagonal lines connecting opposite corners and intersecting at the center point. Each of these areas is known as 宮 gōng, a "palace" or "fortress".
Dividing the two opposing sides, between the fifth and sixth ranks, is 河 hé, the "river". The river is often marked with the phrases 楚河 chǔ hé, meaning "Chu River", and 漢界 (in Traditional Chinese), hàn jiè, meaning "Han border", a reference to the Chu-Han War. Although the river provides a visual division between the two sides, only two pieces are affected by its presence: soldier pieces have an enhanced move after crossing the river, while elephant pieces cannot cross. The starting points of the soldiers and cannons are usually, but not always, marked with small crosses.
The pieces start in the position shown in the diagram above. Which player moves first has varied throughout history and from one part of China to another. Different xiangqi books advise either that the black or red side moves first. Some books refer to the two sides asnorth and south; which direction corresponds to which color also varies from source to source. Generally, Red goes first in most modern formal tournaments.
Each player in turn moves one piece from the point it occupies to another point. Pieces are generally not permitted to move through a point occupied by another piece. A piece can be moved onto a point occupied by an enemy piece, in which case the enemy piece is captured and removed from the board. A player cannot capture one of his own pieces. Pieces are never promoted (converted into other pieces), although the soldier is able to move sideways after it crosses the river. Almost all pieces capture using their normal moves, while the cannon has a special capture move described below.
The game ends when one player captures the other's general. When the general is in danger of being captured by the enemy player on his next move, the enemy player has "delivered a check" (simplified Chinese: 照将/将军; traditional Chinese: 照將/將軍, abbreviated (simplified Chinese: 将; traditional Chinese: 將; pinyin:jiāng jiāng)), and the general is "in check". A check should be announced. If the general's player can make no move to prevent the general's capture, the situation is called "checkmate" (simplified Chinese: 将死; traditional Chinese: 將死). Unlike chess, in which a stalemate is a draw, in xiangqi, a player with no legal moves left loses.
In xiangqi, a player—often with material or positional disadvantage—may attempt to check or chase pieces in a way such that the moves fall in a cycle, forcing the opponent to draw the game. The following special rules are used to make it harder to draw the game by endless checking and chasing, regardless of whether the positions of the pieces are repeated or not:
- The side that perpetually checks with one piece or several pieces can be ruled to have lost unless he or she stops such checking.
- The side that perpetually chases any one unprotected piece with one or more pieces, excluding generals and soldiers, will be ruled to have lost unless he or she stops such chasing.
- If one side perpetually checks and the other side perpetually chases, the checking side has to stop or be ruled to have lost.
- When neither side violates the rules and both persist in not making an alternate move, the game can be ruled as a draw.
- When both sides violate the same rule at the same time and both persist in not making an alternate move, the game can be ruled as a draw.
Different sets of rules set different limits on what is considered perpetual. For example, club xiangqi rules allow a player to check or chase six consecutive times using one piece, twelve times using two pieces, and eighteen times using three pieces before considering the action perpetual.
The above rules to prevent perpetual checking and chasing, while popular, are not the only ones; there are numerous end game situations.
The pieces are flat circular disks, each labeled or engraved with a Chinese character. The black pieces are marked with somewhat different characters from the corresponding red pieces; this practice may have originated in situations where there was only one material available to make the pieces from and no coloring material available to distinguish the opposing armies.
The general starts the game at the midpoint of the back edge, within the palace. The general may move and capture one point orthogonally. The two generals may not face each other in the same file with no intervening pieces.
If that happens, the 飛將 ("flying general") move may be executed, in which one general may cross the board to capture the enemy general. In practice, this rule is only used to enforce checkmate. The general may not leave the palace except when executing the flying general move.
Advisors (also known as guards or ministers, and less commonly as assistants, mandarins, orwarriors) are labelled 士 shì ("scholar", "gentleman", "officer") for Black and 仕 shì ("scholar", "official") for Red. Rarely, sets use the character 士 for both colors.
The advisors start on either side of the general. They move and capture one point diagonally and may not leave the palace, which confines them to five points on the board. The advisor is probably derived from the mantri in chaturanga, like the queen in Western chess.
Elephants are labeled 象 xiàng ("elephant") for Black and 相 xiàng ("minister") for Red. They are located next to the advisors. These pieces move and capture exactly two points diagonally and may not jump over intervening pieces; the move is described as being like the character 田 Tián ("field"). If an elephant cannot move due to a diagonally adjacent piece, it is known as "blocking the elephant's eye" (塞象眼).[dubious ]
Elephants may not cross the river, and serve as defensive pieces. Because an elephant's movement is restricted to just seven board positions, it can be easily trapped or threatened. The two elephants are often used to defend each other.
Horses are labelled 馬 mǎ for Black and 傌 mà for Red in sets marked with Traditional Chinese characters and 马 mǎ for both Black and Red in sets marked with Simplified Chinese characters. Some traditional sets use 馬 for both colors. Horses begin the game next to the elephants, on their outside flanks. A horse moves and captures one point orthogonally and then one point diagonally away from its former position, a move which is traditionally described as being like the character 日 Rì. The horse does not jump as the knight does in Western chess, and can be blocked by a piece located one point horizontally or vertically adjacent to it. Blocking a horse is called "hobbling the horse's leg" (蹩馬腿). The diagram on the left illustrates the horse's movement.
Since horses can be blocked, it is sometimes possible to trap the opponent's horse. It is possible for one player's horse to have an asymmetric attack advantage if an opponent's horse is blocked, as seen in the diagram on the right.
Chariots are labelled 車 for Black and 俥 for Red in sets marked with Traditional Chinese characters and 车 for both Black and Red in sets marked with Simplified Chinese characters. Some traditional sets use 車 for both colors. All of these characters are pronounced as jū. The chariot moves and captures any distance orthogonally, but may not jump over intervening pieces. The chariots begin the game on the points at the corners of the board. The chariot is considered to be the strongest piece in the game.[by whom?]
The chariot is sometimes known as the rook by English-speaking players, since it is like the rook in Western chess. Chinese players (and others) often call this piece a car, since that is one modern meaning of the character 車.
Cannons are labelled 砲 pào ("catapult") for Black and 炮 pào("cannon") for Red. The names are homophones, though sometimes 炮 is used for both Red and Black. The 石 shí radical of 砲 means "stone", and the 火 huǒ radical of 炮 means "fire". Both colors' pieces are normally referred to as cannons in English.
Each player has two cannons, which start on the row behind the soldiers, two points in front of the horses. Cannons move like chariots, any distance orthogonally without jumping, but can only capture by jumping a single piece, friend or foe, along the path of attack. The piece over which the cannon jumps is called the 炮臺 (trad.) / 炮台 (simp.) pào tái ("cannon platform") or "screen". Any number of unoccupied spaces, including none, may exist between the cannon, screen, and the piece to be captured. Cannons can be exchanged for horses immediately from their starting positions.
Each side has five soldiers, labelled 卒 zú ("pawn" or "private") for Black and 兵 bīng ("soldier") for Red. Soldiers begin the game located on every other point one row back from the edge of the river. They move and capture by advancing one point. Once they have crossed the river, they may also move and capture one point horizontally. Soldiers cannot move backward, and therefore cannot retreat; after advancing to the last rank of the board, however, a soldier may still move sideways at the enemy's edge.
The soldier is sometimes called the "pawn" by English-speaking players, due to the pieces' similarities.
Approximate relative values of the pieces
|Soldier before crossing the river||1|
|Soldier after crossing the river||2|
These approximate values do not take into account the position of the piece in question (except the soldier in a general sense), the positions of other pieces on the board, or the number of pieces remaining.
The two players' pieces are usually colored red and black.
Pieces are represented by disks marked with a Chinese character identifying the piece type, and in a color indicating which player has ownership. In mainland China, most sets still use traditional Chinese characters (as opposed to simplified Chinese characters). Modern pieces are usually plastic, though some sets are wooden, and more expensive sets may use jade. In more ancient times, many sets were simple unpainted woodcarvings; thus, to distinguish between pieces of the two sides, most corresponding pieces used characters that were similar but varied slightly.
There are several types of notation used to record xiangqi games. In each case the moves are numbered and written with the same general pattern.
- (first move) (first response)
- (second move) (second response)
It is clearer but not required to write each move pair on a separate line.
The book The Chess of China describes a move notation method in which the ranks of the board are numbered 1 to 10 from closest to farthest away, followed by a digit 1 to 9 for files from right to left. Both values are relative to the moving player. Moves are then indicated as follows:
[piece name] ([former rank][former file])-[new rank][new file]
Thus, the most common opening in the game would be written as:
- 炮 (32)–35 馬 (18)–37
A notation system partially described in A Manual of Chinese Chess and used by several computer software implementations describes moves in relative terms as follows:
[single-letter piece abbreviation][former file][operator indicating direction of movement][new file, or in the case of purely vertical movement, number of ranks traversed]
The file numbers are counted from each player's right to each player's left.
In case there are two identical pieces in one file, symbols + (front) and – (rear) are used instead of former file number. Direction of movement is indicated via an operator symbol. A plus sign is used to indicate forward movement. A minus sign is used to indicate backwards movement. A dot or period or equal sign is used to indicate horizontal or lateral movement. For a piece that moves diagonally (such as the horse or elephant), the plus or minus sign is used rather than the period.
Thus, the most common opening in the game would be written as:
- C2.5 H8+7
The single-letter piece abbreviations are:
* for Rook, because using C would conflict with the letter for Cannon
This system is unofficial and principally used by Western players. It is similar to algebraic notation for Western chess. Letters are used for files and numbers for ranks. File "a" is on Red's left and rank "1" is nearest to Red. A point's designation does not depend on which player moves; for both sides "a1" is the lowest left point from Red's side.
[single-letter piece abbreviation][former position][capture indication][new position][check indication][analysis]
Pieces are abbreviated as in notation system 2, except that no letter is used for the soldier.
Former position is only indicated if necessary to distinguish between two identical pieces that could have made the move. If they share the same file, indicate which rank moves; if they share the same rank, indicate which file moves. If they share neither rank nor file, then the file is indicated.
Capture is indicated by "x". No symbol is used to indicate a non-capturing move.
Check is indicated by "+", double check by "++", triple check by "+++", and quadruple check by "++++". Checkmate is indicated by "#".
For analysis purposes, bad moves are indicated by "?" and good moves by "!". These can be combined if the analysis is uncertain ("!?" might be either but is probably good; "?!" is probably bad) or repeated for emphasis ("??" is a disaster).
Thus, the most common opening in the game would be written as:
- Che3 Hg8
An example of a brief game ("the early checkmate") is:
Black is mated and therefore loses. Notice how Red's doubled cannons can't be blocked, and that the general can't move off the file.
Chinese Chess Advanced Rules
To make the games fair, certain patern of movements are restricted. In the nutshell, online chinese chess website Rules prohibit a player to continuously threaten to capture one opponent's piece using one or more pieces. Such movements are either perpetual checks (if the King is threatened) or perpetual chases (if an unprotected piece other than the King is threatened).
Terminology: To make the rules precise, the following terms are used:
Check: A move of any piece that causes the opponent's King to be threatened with capture in the next move.
Same type sacrifice/trade: A piece moves to a position where it can capture an opponent's piece of the same type in such a way that the opponent piece can also capture it in the next move.
Chase: A piece moves to a position where it can capture an opponent's piece, which is not the King, in the next move. It is also a chase when a piece moves and results in a cannon attacking an opponent's piece. There are a few exceptions:
It is not a chase when a King or a Pawn threatens to capture any piece.
It is not a chase to threaten to capture a Pawn when it is yet to cross the river.
Same type sacrifice/trade is not a chase.
Protected: A piece is protected if there is a piece that can capture any piece that takes the protected piece. An exception is that a car is never considered protected when it is threatened by an opponent's cannon or knight.
The online chinese chess website Advanced Rules: All moves following the basic rules are allowed except:
Perpetual Check: Continuously checking opponent using one or more pieces is not allowed.
Perpetual Chase: Continuously chasing one unprotected opponent piece using one or more pieces is not allowed.
When one side violates the Advanced Rules while the other does not, the one who violates the rule loses. It is a draw when both sides perpetual check or both perpetual chase. If one side perpetual checks and the other side perpetual chases, the one who perpetual checks loses.
online chinese chess website allows a player to check/chase 6 consecutive times using one piece, 12 times using 2 pieces, and 18 times using 3 pieces before considering the check/chase a perpetual check/chase.
Please keep this intacted:This article link is xiangqi(chinese chess) rules