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Shogi

Shogi is the member of the Chess family which is most widely played in Japan.  If you look past the surface details, the overall board plan and movement style is similar to chess; but there are a lot of interesting details.

The board is 9x9 rather than 8x8.  Players start with 20 pieces each, which are 5-sided and traditionally inscribed with Kanji characters.  (At Boardspace, the default pieces are labeled with westernized images, but the traditional set is also available.).

The pieces have other unusual characteristics .  Most of the pieces can be promoted, and become more powerful, when they reach the 7'th rank.  The most unusual feature is that captured pieces are not "out of the game" as in chess, but can be returned to the game by dropping them almost anywhere on the board.   Where Chess trades down and simplifies, Shogi becomes ever more complex as captured pieces parachute into the middle of the fray.

Checkmate is similar to Chess.

Complete rules can be found here.

Robots:  Adequate.
shogi boad
shogi board

Links
Shogi rankings at Boardspace
Shogi at BoardGameGeek
Shogi game archives at Boardspace
Shogi win/loss database




The back story: 
Shogi is always in the background for Go players who reach the game from Japanese rather than Korean or Chinese influences.  I am one.




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