Japanese chess is often termed as Shogi and both have some sort of common features and are believed to have originated from the Indian form of chess called Chaturanga.
Some of the characteristics, which the Chess players may notice about Shogi is the size of board and the number of playing pieces used. This game of chess is played on a board with 9 by 9 grids with 20 playing pieces instead of the conventional chess which is played on a board with 8 by 8 grids and 16 playing pieces.
Playing Japanese Chess
Further, in Chess the playing pieces stand vertical on the board like soldiers, while in Shogi the playing pieces lie flat on the board and are flat in shape, with sharp edges facing forwards to the opponent player. The grades of the pieces are designated by its size and are depicted by some Japanese characters, imprinted on them.
When the players reach the 7th, 8th or the 9th row on board, they may promote the pieces by turning them over, depending on their movement.
It is quite interesting to note that in Shogi, the chess players may be able to “drop back” the captured pieces on the board and used by the opponent player. This is one unique characteristic of Japanese Chess. As such the pieces are not distinguished by their colour as in other forms of Chess.
The Japanese chess involves longer play time than other games of chess, as some pieces have short movement range, and most players adopt the defensive strategy before they can defend the opponent.
More About Japanese Chess
However, Shogi or Japanese chess has three phases, namely opening phase, middle phase and end phase, similarly as traditional chess. The “drop back” feature offers Shogi more open-ended strategy as the board can be packed with pieces once the players get to adopt this strategy of “back drop” and “counter drop”.
The drop rule of Japanese Chess, allows a player to use the captured soldiers to combat against the opponent player. The sudden gambit of a playing piece “dropped” on the opponent lines may be a threat which is unwelcome like that of a Ninja infringement into Daimyos castle.
Shogi is a classic example of how foreign invention developed in Japan and further modified to create something exclusive for the Japanese.
In the recent times, Japanese chess or Shogi, has attracted many chess players outside Japan in countries of China, America and Europe. The players enjoying Chess may try playing this game and experience something unique Japan has introduced in the ancient family game.