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This page is written by the game's inventor, Larry Smith.


The idea for this game was inspired by Nana Shogi invented by Georg Dunkel, a very tiny variant and really cool game. This expands on its concept, a small game played on a small field. There is one unique feature of Ki Shogi...

This game is played without a board.

The pieces consist of six cubes.

# of    Kanji     movement                     English meaning of Kanji
pieces  on sides

2       Gyoku     D1, O1                       'Jewel'


2       Hi        any O                        'Flying'

        Cho       O1                           'Wild Boar'

        Han       any BO, any FO               'Reverse'

        Chuu      BO1, FO1                     'Go-between'

        Ou        BO1, FO1, any LO, any RO     'Side'

        Shu       LO1, RO1, any BO, any FO     'Vertical'


2       Kaku      any D                        'Horns'

        Myou      D1                           'Cat'

        Hon       any BO, any FD               'Flee'

        Ga        BO1, FD1                     'Tile'

        Zou       any BD, any FO               'Miscellaneous'

        Ken       BD1, FO1                     'Dog'

The Gyoku cube, only one side has a Kanji character.

On the other cubes, the Kanji characters are laid out so that they are matched with their opposites in move power. Such as, Hi which can move any number of space orthogonally is on the opposite side of Cho which can only move one space orthogonally. Han is opposite Chuu. Ou is opposite Shu. Kaku is opposite Myou. Hon is opposite Ga. Zou is opposite Ken. This is important for the move-flip phase.

Each player receives one of each type cube at the start. They will be refered to as 'Gyoku', 'Hi' and 'Kaku'

After determining the order of play, the first player(Black) begins by placing the Gyoku anywhere on the empty playing field. The selection of a surface for the playing field is critical, the smaller the surface the less freedom of travel for the pieces. New players are encouraged to use a card table. Coffee tables make nice surfaces, too. The players sit across form each other.

Imagining an invisible grid, with each space the size of the cube, the next player(White) then places the Gyoku, in one of the following:

[x][ ][ ][ ][x]
[x][ ][o][ ][x]
[x][ ][ ][ ][x]

The first player (Black) may have place the Gyoku near the edge of the playing field, thus restricting the next player's (White) placement ability and effecting the subsequent game.

The Gyoku cubes must always remain in such a configuration. If a Gyoku is move, it must be moved within the orbit of the other Gyoku, maintaining the distance of one 'space' between each. This will determine the boundary of the playing field. Although the pieces will ebb and flow across the surface of the playing field.

The next turns are the movement of any placed pieces or the dropping of Hi or Kaku cubes.

The Hi and Kaku must be dropped adjacent to their Gyoku and cannot place the opponent Gyoku in immediate jeopardy. They may not be dropped on 'spaces' which are shared by both Gyoku.

These drops must be made within the following:


The Gyoku must be at the center of this grid.

When the player drops the Hi or Kaku, they may be played as either of the six faces. As long as the opponent's Gyoku is not placed in immediate jeopardy.

When a player moves, the piece must land next to one of either Gyoku cubes. If a piece becomes 'stranded', outside the immediate influence of either Gyoku, it must be immediately moved upon the next turn. If it cannot be returned to the influence of either Gyoku, it is considered captured by the opponent.

If a player moves the Gyoku in such a way that strands one of its fellow pieces, those pieces are immediately captured by the opponent.

Each time a piece is moved without a capture, it is immediately flipped to its opposite face. When a piece captures, it is immediately promoted to one of the next most powerful faces.


 Chuu      Cho       Han       Ou

Cho Ou Shu
Han Shu
Ou Hi
Shu Hi
Hi Chuu
Myou Kaku
Hon Kaku
Ga Hon Myou
Zou Kaku
Ken Zou Myou
Kaku Ga Ken

The Hi and Kaku promotions are actually demotions, but hey, that's the price ya pay.

Captured pieces may be dropped into play by the possesor.

To re-interate the rules:

The game is won when the opponent is unable to make a legal move. There is no stale-mate, a player who cannot play loses the game.

Unlike Nana Shogi, a player may check the opponent with pieces still in hand. This makes for a more aggressive game, since a check may be made by the fourth move.

For our example, we will use a playing field that is equivalent to an 15x15 board. Of course, the actual playing field may be smaller or larger, depending upon the players and available surfaces.

Notation will be achieved by using cardinal directions, north(N), northeast(NE), north-northeast(NNE), east-northeast(ENE), east(E), east-southeast(ESE), southeast(SE), south-southeast(SSE), south(S), south-southwest(SSW), southwest(SW), west-southwest(WSW), west(W), west-northwest(WNW), northwest(NW), north-northwest(NNW).

Placement of White Gyoku in relation to the Black Gyoku:

Placement of other pieces in relation to their Gyoku:

With the players sitting across from each other, the White player is considered North.

Pieces are moved in relation to their owner. Where a Black Ken can move orthogonally north, the White Ken moves orthogonally south.

Movement of pieces are notated by the direction and distance.

   N    piece moves north one space
   SE3  piece move southeast three spaces

Promotions are denoted by the promoted value following in parenthesis.
   Ga(Myou) S

Captures are notated by an 'x'.
   Hi(Chuu) x Kaku	

Checks are notated by an '+' following the move or capture.

The Black player begins by placing the Gyoku near the center of the field, thus allow the opponent full choice of starting positions.

1.	*Gyoku		...

White then takes the NNE position.

1.	...		*Gyoku NNE

Black now has the following responses:

	Move Gyoku E, W or NW
	Drop Hi NW, W, SW, or S of Gyoku.
	Drop Cho NW, W, SW, S, SE or E of Gyoku
	Drop Han NW, W, SW, or S of Gyoku
	Drop Chuu NW, W, SW, S, SE, or E of Gyoku
	Drop Ou NW, W, SW, S, SE, or E of Gyoku
	Drop Shu NW, W, SW, or S of Gyoku
	Drop Kaku NW, SW, S, SE or E of Gyoku
	Drop Myou NW, W, SW, S, SE or E of Gyoku
	Drop Hon NW, SW, S, SE or E of Gyoku
	Drop Ga NW, W, SW, S, SE or E of Gyoku
	Drop Zou NW, W, SW, or S of Gyoku
	Drop Ken NW, W, SW, S, SE or E of Gyoku

The 'spaces' N and NE are shared by the Gyoku and are not available for drops.

Black drops:

2.	*Cho E		...

White responds:

2.	...		*Myou E

The reader can now see that Black can reply with CHO(Hi) S and check White.

White responds Gyoku SE.

3.	CHO(Hi) S+	Gyoku SE

Black could Hi(Cho) N2 and check White again but White would immediately reply Myo(Kaku) x Cho and checks Black. Black now loses a piece and is forced to rescue Gyoku.

4.	*Myou S		...

4.	...		*Cho S

We now have all the pieces on the playing field.

Here is the possible scenario from this set-up:

5.	Myou(Kaku) NE+	Cho(Hi) x Kaku+
6.	Hi(Chuu) x Hi	...

Although Black has obtained both Hi pieces, the Hi on the field is showing the weak face of Chuu. But it does keep White from replying Myo(Kaku) SW+.

6.	...		*Zou NW

This is an example of the use of a weaker face upon drop. Black cannot remove this threat to the Chuu nor can it block. Also White can promote the Zou to Kaku upon any capture.

7.	*Cho SE		...

7.	...		Myo(Kaku) SE

8.	Chu(Han) N	Kaku(Ga) x Cho+
9.	Han(Shu) x Ga	Zou(Kaku) x Shu+
10.	Gyoku x Kaku	...

We are now back at the original start-up positions of the Gyoku but White has both Hi and Black has both Kaku. White now has first option.

10.	...		Gyoku W

White positions the Gyoku in order to take advantage of the orthogonal movements of the Hi. Black allows this and responds:

11.	*Zou E		Gyoku W

White has practically negated the power of the Black Zou.

12.	*Ken SW		Gyoku W

Again, in an attempt to minimize the threats of the Hi, Black has dropped a weak piece and White took advantage.

13.	Ken(Zou) N	*Cho N

Black is now in a weak position and White begins to make a play.

14.	Zou(Ken) SE	Cho(Hi) E

Black now has very few legal moves.

15.	Zou(Ken) N	....

The only other piece which can move is the Gyoku and it would leave at least one piece 'stranded'.

15.	...		*Hi SE

Black cannot make a legal move and therefore loses.

I hope the reader has found the explanation of this game satisfactory and will find the playing even more enjoyable.

I am considering making both generic and Kanji sets, if there is sufficent interest.

Contact me at: (email removed contact us for address) .net

This webpage is the product of L. Lynn Smith.

Written by L. Lynn Smith; HTML modified by David Howe.
WWW Page Created: 12 June 2001; Last Updated: 12 June 2001