Rule of Shogi

How to Promote Pieces – the Rules of Shogi (Japanese Chess)

Posted: 02/04/2019 Updated:

Kyosuke
Let's learn the rule of promotion!
Ayumi
The promotion rule is one of the biggest difference betwenn Japanese chess and Western chess.

This post describes the promotion rule of shogi.

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What is Promotion?

Each shogi piece has its name written on both front side and back side in kanji (Kanji is a type of character used in Japan and China). At the beginning of shogi game, the front side of pieces faces up. If the piece is promoted during the game, a player turns back side of the piece up. In shogi, all pieces except a king and a gold general can promote, though, in chess, an only pawn can promote.

In shogi, how to move promoted pieces depends on the kind of the original unpromoted piece. Basically, a promoted piece is stronger than the unpromoted piece. Therefore if a player promotes some pieces, the player can progress a game advantageously.

Ayumi
Almost all pieces can promote, can't they!?

 

Promotion Zone

Whether a piece can promote or not depends on a square where the piece is placed. A player's promotion zone is composed of the furthest one-third of the board as shown in the lower figure.

Promotion Zone

Promotion Zone

Kyosuke
In shogi, promotion is easier than chess, because this large promotion zone.

 

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How to Promote a Piece

There are three conditions to promote a piece, as follows. A player can choose whether or not to promote a piece if one of the conditions is met. (The player can also choose not to promote the piece.)

Condition1. a Piece Moves into the Promotion Zone from outside the Promotion Zone

A player can promote a piece in the player's turn, after moving the piece into the promotion zone from outside the promotion zone. For example, as shown in the lower figure, the rook can promote.

Moving the rook to the promotion zone from outside to promote

Moving the rook to the promotion zone from outside to promote

Condition2. a Piece Moves to the Promotion Zone from the Promotion Zone

A player can promote a piece in the player's turn, after moving the piece to the promotion zone from the promotion zone. For example, as shown in the lower figure, the rook can promote.

Moving the rook to the promotion zone from inside to promote

Moving the rook to the promotion zone from inside to promote

Condition3. a Piece Moves out of the Promotion Zone from the Promotion Zone

A player can promote a piece in the player's turn, after moving the piece to the outside of the promotion zone from the promotion zone. For example, as shown in the lower figure, the rook can promote.

Moving the rook to the outside of the promotion zone from inside

Moving the rook to the outside of the promotion zone from inside

How to Change a Promoted Piece to its Original Unpromoted State

Basically, a promoted piece cannot return to the original state. However, if a promoted piece is captured and is retained in hand, the piece return to original unpromoted state.

 

Summary

Kyosuke
Did you understand the rule of promotion?
Ayumi
Yes! I think this rule complicates shogi but makes shogi interesting!

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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.