How to play chinese chess?

The chinese chess or xiangqi (象棋) is one of the most popular and widely played board games in China for many centuries. Like the international chess it is played by two players, each controlling an army of two different colours usually green (or black) and red.

The pieces on each side:

  • King (1)
  • Guard (2)
  • Bishop (2)
  • Knight (2)
  • Rook (2)
  • Cannon (2)
  • Pawn (5)

Note the characters look different for some pieces. They are the same pieces with the same power. You might find some other slight variations or colours and they are the same game.

Rules:

  • The chinese chess is played on the points of intersecting lines, rather than on the squares on the board.
  • The king moves one space at a time (left, right, forward or backward). He is confined to the fortress on his side of the board.
  • The guards are also confined to the fortress. They move one space at a time diagonally.
  • The bishops move two spaces in any diagonal direction. This piece can be blocked by another piece on the intervening square (A and B in diagram), and is not allowed to cross the river to the other side of the board.
  • The knights move first one space along the horizontal/vertical line and then one space diagonally similar to the international chess. But this knight can be blocked by an intervening piece. The knight in the diagram cannot move to the spaces marked by red X, it is blocked by the black pawn.
  • The rooks move exactly like the international chess as many spaces horizontally or vertically as they wish until they meet another piece or the edge of the board.
  • The cannons move like a rook when not capturing. To capture a piece it must have a piece (friend or foe) in line to jump over. In this diagram, the cannon can capture the enemy’s pawn. It cannot move beyond that pawn, or to the unoccupied spaces A or B.
  • The pawns move one space forward. But after crossing the river, it may move one space to the left or right or forward but never backward. It captures just as it moves normally. It does not get promoted to any rank upon reaching the far end of the board.
  • The object of this game is to force capture of the enemy’s king. This may be checkmate or by stalemate (he is not under any immediate threat but there is no legal or safe move).
  • It is not allowed to give perpetual check or attack. If the game is repeating its position, the player forcing the repetition must do something else.
  • There is one special rule about the kings. The two may never face each other on the same line across the board, with no intervening pieces between them.
  • Usually red makes the first move to begin the game.
  • When a game is not winnable, it is strongly recommended both players draw the game by themselves.
  • There are some advanced rules in tournament but you do not need to worry about it.

How to play chess?

Chess is a game of strategy and war played by two players, each controlling an army of two different colours, pale and darker colour usually white and black.

The pieces on each side:

  • King (1)
  • Queen (1)
  • Rook (2)
  • Knight (2)
  • Bishop (2)
  • Pawn (8)

Rules

  • White square is always on the right hand corner of each side.
  • The queen stands on its own colour.
  • White always makes the first move at the beginning of the game.
  • Checkmate the opponent’s king is the ultimate aim in a chess game.
  • The king is always the tallest piece with a small cross on the top of its crown in most chess sets. It usually moves one square at a time in any direction. There is one special move or leap for the king and it is called castling, where the king and rook can leave their starting squares on the same turn. You can castle on both sides of the board, short castling is to move the king two squares to the right and move the rook two squares to the left. Long castling is the Queen side castling where the king moves two squares to the left and the rook moves three squares to the right. The rules of castling are: (1) you cannot castle if your king has already moved, (2) you cannot castle if your rook has already moved, (3) you cannot castle if your king is in check on that turn, (4) you cannot castle if your king lands into a check, (5) you cannot castle if there is a piece standing in the way of the king or rook.
  • The queen can move up and down and across the board, as well as the diagonals in any direction and square as long as there is nothing blocking its path.
  • The rook can move up and down, side to side on the board unless there is something blocking its path. They cannot leap unless it is performing the special move of castling.
  • The knight moves two squares in a straight direction and then one to the side, either to the left or right, like an L shape.
  • The bishop moves forwards or backwards along the diagonals for as many squares as it likes, as long as there is nothing standing in its way. Both bishops run only move along in their respective colour of square. They must keep to their colour of square.
  • The pawn can move either one or two squares forward in their first move. They cannot move backward or sideway. It can only capture an enemy’s piece by moving one square diagonally forward. If a pawn reaches the other side of the board it must immediately transform into another piece (queen, rook, knight or bishop) of your choice. The pawn can make a special move as well and it is called en passant. The en passant capture is available only when a pawn advances two squares from its starting position on a file adjacent to an enemy pawn. It must be captured on the turn immediately or the option disappears.