Friday, 6 July 2007

Games that are not Chess - Shogi

Recently my son convinced (or tricked) my wife into buying him a Nintendo DS. Just so I wouldn't be forced to fight endless Poekemon battles I brought a game cartridge that had a number of board and card games on it. Of course my main interest was the chess program it had, but I also discovered it had a Shogi program as well.
For those that don't know Shogi is Japanese Chess, although historically it may pre-date Chess (at least in its current form). While the games have plenty of similarities, it is the differences that make Shogi interesting. Probably the biggest difference is that capturing a piece in Shogi means exactly that. Any piece captured joins your army, and can be dropped onto the board (in place of a move) in the same way as Bughouse. The often creates wild swings in the game where one player sacrifices material for a mating attack, and finding it unsuccessful, gets buried under an avalanche of pieces coming the other way.
Probably the hardest adjustment for me when playing was the lack of long-range pieces. You start with a single rook and bishop and losing those (as I often did) was catastrophic. Also it does take time to get used to the symbols on the pieces, as they are in Japanese.
There is a chess/shogi crossover as the strongest player in Shogi history is considered to be Yoshiharu Habu, the only player to win the 7 Crowns (the 7 leading Shogi tournaments) in the same year. He is also one of Japan's leading chess players with a rating of 2400. This is what he did to English GM Peter Wells in the Essent Open 2005

Wells,P (2513) - Habu,Y (2341) [D47]
Hoogeveen Essent open (2), 22.10.2005
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Be2 b4 9.Na4 Bd6 10.e4 Nxe4 11.Qc2 f5 12.Ng5 Nxg5 13.Qxc6 Ne4 14.Qxa8 0-0 15.Qc6 Ndf6 16.f3 Bd7 17.Qa6 Bxa4 18.Qxa4 Bxh2 19.Rxh2 Qxd4 20.fxe4 Nxe4 21.Rh1 Qf2+ 22.Kd1 Rd8+ 23.Kc2 Qxe2+ 24.Kb1 Nc3+ 25.bxc3 bxc3 26.Ba3 Rb8+ 27.Qb3 Qd3+ 28.Kc1 Qd2+ 0-1

1 comment:

darren said...

Hi Sean ,

Do you know about the brainking site?
If you're intersted it's an excellent
site to play shogi against people form all over the world.