Kyou Shogi (力将棋, Strong Shogi) is a game filled with powerful pieces. The game is both a love letter to Chu Shogi and a way of bringing some of the qualities of Tenjiku Shogi to a smaller board.
This game is designed to exist as its own thing, not seeking to replace the strategic manoeuvering of Chu Shogi or the tactical sharpness of Tenjiku Shogi.
Thank you to my friend and co-creator Casey Hill for his invaluable feedback. The game would have been very different and less fun to play without his suggestions.
The game consists of 42 pieces per player, consisting of 19 types of piece and 27 unique moves to remember.
By comparison, Chu is 46 per player; 21 piece types; 28 unique moves. Tenjiku is 78 per player; 36 piece types; 43 unique moves.
You can play the game by printing the board and pieces from the images below.
For the board, you can print the whole board; or, print part of the board six times and assemble the pages together:
- Full board (requires large printer or multiple pages)
- Part of the board (print six times, cut to remove white edges)
For the pieces, use two sheets of paper and both sides, so that both unpromoted and promoted sides are visible:
- Page 1, front (unpromoted side)
- Page 1, back (promoted side)
- Page 2, front (unpromoted side)
- Page 2, back (promoted side)
All of the pieces come from Chu and Tenjiku. If you have a physical set of Tenjiku pieces, you only need a board to play.
There are 16 types of piece from Chu and 11 from Tenjiku.
For a player who knows Chu, there are 11 new moves to remember. For Tenjiku, there are 5, as the movements have been changed for these pieces to balance their powers on a smaller board.
All the piece movements from Chu are unchanged. The 6 pieces unchanged from Tenjiku are:
- Dog (D)
- Side Soldier (SS)
- Vertical Soldier (VS)
- Multi General (+D)
- Water Buffalo (+SS)
- Chariot Soldier (+VS)
Pieces with + are promoted pieces (see rules on promotion).
The Dog (D) moves one square orthogonally forwards or diagonally backwards. It promotes to a Multi General.
The Side Soldier (SS) moves any number of squares orthogonally sideways. It can also move up to two squares orthogonally forwards and one square orthogonally backwards. It promotes to a Water Buffalo.
The Vertical Soldier (VS) moves any number of squares orthogonally forwards. It can also move up to two squares orthogonally sideways and one square orthogonally backwards. It promotes to a Chariot Soldier.
The Multi General (+D, promoted Dog) moves any number of squares orthogonally forwards diagonally backwards.
The Water Buffalo (+SS, promoted Side Soldier) moves any number of squares orthogonally sideways, and diagonally. It can also move up to two squares orthogonally forwards and backwards.
The Chariot Soldier (+VS, promoted Vertical Soldier) moves any number of squares orthogonally forwards and backwards, and diagonally. It can also move up to two squares orthogonally sideways.
The 5 pieces changed from Tenjiku are:
- Free Eagle (FE)
- Lion Hawk (LH)
- Bishop General (+HF)
- Rook General (+SE)
- Fire Demon (FD)
Four pieces have the ability to 'jump'. This is the same as sliding (moving multiple steps in a direction, like a Bishop and Rook do), except that they can also ignore the first obstacle in their path and continue sliding, as though it weren't there.
They can either capture an enemy piece ahead of the piece jumped over, or stop on any square beforehand. There are no restrictions on captures, so a King can be captured in this way just like with any other piece.
The Free Eagle (FE) moves as a Queen and can jump over a single piece in any direction.
The Lion Hawk (LH) moves as both a Lion and a Bishop, and can also jump over a single piece in any diagonal direction.
The Bishop General (+HF, promoted Horned Falcon) moves as the Horned Falcon: any direction except orthogonally forwards; except that it can also jump over a single piece.
The Rook General (+SE, promoted Soaring Eagle) moves as the Soaring Eagle: any direction except diagonally forwards; except that it can also jump over a single piece.
The Fire Demon (FD) moves as a Bishop, and can also move up to two squares orthogonally sideways.
It has the power to automatically 'burn' all enemy pieces on the eight squares adjacent to it, capturing and removing them from play.
This can occur after the Fire Demon finishes making its move, or when an enemy piece voluntarily moves next to the Fire Demon.
If a Fire Demon moves and stops next to an enemy Fire Demon, only the piece that moved is burned and captured. All other pieces remain in play, including any others that would have been burned.
There is no choice as to what pieces are burned and captured, so some care is required when moving as new attacking lines may be revealed in the process.
The aim of the game is to capture the opponent's King. If they have a Crown Prince (promoted Drunk Elephant, a royal piece), that must be captured too.
Pawns and most pieces can promote when they have moved into the opponent's first four ranks (the 'promotion zone'). Only the King, Lion Hawk and Free Eagle do not.
Because all promoted versions of pieces are upgrades of their previous forms that do not lose anything in the process, there is no reason to not promote when you have the chance.
Pieces that can move twice per turn (Lions, Horned Falcons and Soaring Eagles) promote on the second part of their move, even if the second move takes the piece outside of the promotion zone.
Digital clients should promote pieces automatically where possible. Once promoted, pawns and pieces cannot demote.
No restrictions on Lion trading
In Chu, there are limits as to whether Lions can be captured as they are the strongest piece in the game. There is no equivalent in this game.
No restrictions on jumping pieces
In Tenjiku, there are limits for whether some pieces can jump others based on a hierarchy. There is no restriction in that respect.
In Shogi, captured pawns and pieces switch sides and can subsequently be dropped onto the board to fight. There are no drops in this game.
As in Chu Shogi, draws are possible. These include repetition of the same position four times without coercion (through checking or repeatedly attacking another piece) and by both players having just a single piece left (King/Crown Prince).
As in Shogi, an illegal move loses the game.
When playing over the board, if a player makes an illegal move, they may plead for mercy and request a takeback. It is entirely the choice of the opponent whether that is accepted.
If they accept, the illegal move is taken back and the game continues. The opponent could potentially lose the game as a result, for example, by making an illegal move themselves.
If they refuse, the game ends. There is no dishonour in asking for a takeback or refusing. If the player who makes an illegal move is a beginner, leniency would be considerate.
A digital client should only offer legal moves.
Perpetual check and repeatedly attacking a piece attempting to avoid capture – such that the position repeats four times – is forbidden, and results in a loss for the responsible player.
Notation is as in Chu Shogi, with (from White's perspective) 1 to 12 for the ranks and the letters a to l representing the files. The bottom-left square for White is 1a and 12l for Black (the latter as the player who moves first).
In Shogi notation, the number precedes the letter.
A Lion can move twice, and potentially capture twice on one turn. For example: Ln 4g-5g; Lnx6f-6e; Ln 1cx2d; Lnx11jx12j.
A Fire Demon's burn-capture is represented by '!' after its move, followed by the captures. For example: FD 3a; FDx5e; FD 7i!x7jx7k; FDx6c!x6bx5c.
The first few games you play will turn you into an amateur for a time. Losing pieces and being forked is common. Have fun without taking things too seriously and enjoy the resulting chaos!
Fire Demons are worth at least twice as much as any other piece. Place them into strategic positions to pounce on any unwitting enemy pieces. Remember that they can move next to pieces to capture them through burning them.
Their most powerful ability is to enter the opposing camp and take a large number of pieces. Creating an effective defence against this is essential.
They are far more limited in movement compared with Tenjiku. As such, a defence agaist them can be mounted with some care.
Fire Demons can be effective defenders: preventing sudden attacks from other Fire Demons, for example, or limiting the opponent's ability to promote pieces.
The Free Eagle points directly at the opponent's King. Always have at least two pieces blocking the line to your King, or the ability to do so.
Lions and Lion Hawks are worth slightly less than Queens and Free Eagles respectively due to the increased power level on the board. They are still very capable and highly dangerous when near Kings.
Jumping pieces can create surprise attacks and nasty forks. Be careful when placing pieces in positions where they are not defended.
Manoeuvre your sliding pieces to improve your defence. As in Chu, the challenge is to get the weaker pieces to the fore while keeping your stronger pieces ready to break through.
This is easier said than done as moving these pieces around can temporarily weaken your defence and give your opponent opportunities.
Give your King space to move. The humble Drunk Elephant can block attacks, and moving it creates an escape square.
Pawns and Dogs have very little value individually, so can be sacrificed. They have strategic value in shielding your pieces from attacks, as well as being screens for your jumping pieces.
With fewer pieces on the board, regular non-jumping pieces become more valuable. Use them to launch attacks against a weakened defence, aiming for promotions.
In mid-2021 I started work on developing a version of Tenjiku with fewer pieces. The game has been in development for over a year and has had many changes.
The game was originally designed as an in-between version of Chu and Tenjiku, played on a 14×14 board. There were all kinds of new pieces and was ambitious in scope.
The main issue with that version was the pieces were designed to fill in gaps in the position. They didn't bring anything new other than being somewhat different in movement.
Experiments were made with 16×12, then 12×12. The number of new pieces was reduced, however the game still lacked cohesion. Eventually 14×14 was tried again.
Casey made several suggestions that made the game more accessible, such as moving the Vertical Soldiers away from the opponent's Fire Demons; fewer and simpler piece movements so that less has to be remembered; fine-tuning of the Fire Demons to balance their power. After extensive playtesting, the end result is as much of input from him as myself.
After finishing a 14×14 version, a 13×13 and 12×12 version were made. The 12×12 board made the most sense and fit everything that was intended for the game, and is what you see today.
In 2017, I introduced Tenjiku Shogi to my friend Casey Hill in a café. Unfamiliar with the setup of the pieces, it took us a good hour to get everything ready.
We looked in awe at the position, played a few moves, and had to pack things up as we tried to work out how different pieces moved and the additional rules.
Since then, we have played many games of Chu Shogi. The Tenjiku pieces have been hidden away, waiting for their turn to shine.
We both have problems with handling a large number of pieces. Chu is comfortable (46 pieces per player), while we both struggled when experimenting with early versions of Kyou with 60 pieces or more. Tenjiku was just too much.
The power level of Tenjiku is very high and not for the faint of heart. Eventually I will try to play the game again and try not to get burnt in the process.
There are similar games to this one with elements of Chu and Tenjiku:
- Nutty Shogi by H. G. Muller
- Mikijiku Shogi by H. G. Muller
- Makyou Shogi by Dr. Eric Silverman
- Mitsugumi Shogi by Adam DeWitt
- Suzumu Shogi by Adam DeWitt
Each one plays differently due to the different mixture of pieces and powers.
- H. G. Muller for creating the Mnemonic piece set.
- Dr. Eric Silverman for permission to use his large movement diagrams.
This 'user submitted' page is a collaboration between the posting user and the Chess Variant Pages. Registered contributors to the Chess Variant Pages have the ability to post their own works, subject to review and editing by the Chess Variant Pages Editorial Staff.
By Edward Webb.
Last revised by Edward Webb.
Web page created: 2023-01-11. Web page last updated: 2023-02-26