Rule of Shogi

The Setup and the Flow of Game – the Rules of Shogi (Japanese Chess)

Posted: 02/03/2019 Updated:

Firstly, I will eoughly explain the rule of shogi

This post roughly desribes the rule of shogi.

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Abstract of the shogi

Shogi is called Japanese chess and is a two-player strategy board game. It's the most popular board game in Japan. The goal of shogi is to checkmate the other player's king just like chess.

Shogi is like chess, isn't it?

Abstract of shogi

  • Players       : 2
  • Objective    : Checkmating the other player's king
  • Playing time: 30mins. to 1 hour
It may take professional shogi player two days to play one game.



To play shogi, board, pieces and piece stand are necessary.


  1. Board        :1
  2. Pieces       :40
  3. Piece stand:2

Shogi Board

The shogi board is composed of rectangles in a grid of nine rows by 9 files.


Shogi Pieces

Shogi uses eight kinds of pieces in total of 40 pieces. Kanji symbol is written on the surface of each piece. On the reverse side of each piece, the symbol is also written. When a piece is promoted in a game, this side is turned face up.

The lower table lists the names and symbols of the pieces.

Pieces Stands

In chess, captured pieces are out of the game. However, in shogi, captured pieces are in hand of a capturing player. The captured pieces are on the capturing player's pieces stand and can be brought back into the game under the capturing player's control.

Piece stands are not necessary, because it can be substituted by other things like some empty boxes.

The biggest difference between shogi and chess is that you can reuse capturing pieces again.


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Diagram of the Playing

The lower figure shows a diagram of shogi playing.

Diagram of shogi playing

Diagram of shogi playing


The Flow of the Shogi Game

The flow of the shogi game is as follow

Flow of the game

  1. Setting up pieces on the board
  2. Deciding who moves a piece first
  3. Each player moves a piece in order
  4. Each player aims to checkmate the other player's king
The rule of shogi is almost same as chess!

Setting up Pieces on the Board

Firstly, each player set up pieces on the board as shown in the lower figure.

Shogi starting setup

Shogi starting setup

Deciding Who Moves a Piece First

In shogi, each player moves a piece in order, so firstly it is necessary to decide who moves a piece first. A player who moves a piece first is called "black" or "sente(先手)", and the other player is called "white" or "gote(後手)".

If white and black are decided, shogi game starts.

Learn shogi terms!

  • Black, Sente(先手): Player who moves a piece first
  • White, Gote(後手): Player who moves a piece second

The Flow of the Game, What You can Do on Your Turn

In chess, a player can only move a piece on the board on the player turn. However, in shogi, a player can choose to move a piece on the board or drop a piece in hand onto the board.

What you can do on your turn

  1. Moving a piece on the board
  2. Dropping a piece in hand onto the board

1. Moving a Piece on the Board

A player selects one piece from the player's piece on the board, and move the piece to another square. Depending on a kind of piece, the square that the piece can move to is decided.

When a player moves a piece to a square, if there is a piece of the other player, the player can capture the piece. The captured piece is removed from the board and is placed on the capturing player's piece stand.


2. Dropping a Piece in hand onto the Board

A player can select a piece on the player's piece stand, and drop on any empty square on the board instead of moving a piece. When dropping, the piece must turn unpromoted side up.

A drop rule may complicate shogi game.

End of Game

Shogi game ends, when one side player checkmates the king of the other side player. Then, the player who checkmated the other wins the game.

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I’m Konan, and I live in Tokyo, Japan. I would like to tell you how interesting shogi is on this blog.