The game of Shogi is an old and traditional Japanese board game that is similar to the standard game of chess. Shogi Master is a conversion of this board game for the personal computer. It was both developed and published by Ishi Press International and released to the markets in the early nineties.
In Shogi, the user plays against an extremely competent computer AI in this unusual but traditional Japanese game. The goal is similar to traditional chess, in that the user tries to checkmate the opposition’s king piece. The playing pieces are black and white, similar to traditional chess. The most common playing board is a nine by nine checkerboard playing field, but it can be as large as twenty-five by twenty-five. Similar to traditional chess, pieces can be promoted, but the pieces are not limited to only the weakest pieces, or pawns. Most any playing piece can be promoted. There are dots near the centre of the board that mark the promotion zone. The pieces do not have to reach the opposition’s back row. Moreover, when a player takes a piece from his opponent, that piece can be re-entered into the playing field to play for the capturer to play against the opposition. The pieces are wedge-shaped and pointed, and the direction of the point denotes which side the piece is playing for, more so than its colour.
The playing pieces are as follows: a single king, which can move a single square in any direction; the golds, which move a single square in any direction except for backwards and diagonally and cannot be promoted; the two silvers are similar to the golds, and move one square in all directions except left, right or backwards; the two knights have the ability to jump other pieces by moving one block forward and then one diagonally; the lances only move forward, but can move as many squares as they like; the bishops work just like those in traditional chess, but can also move one square to the side after being promoted; the rook is also similar to traditional chess rooks, but can move a diagonal square once promoted; pawns always move one square forward and can become golds once reaching the promotion zone.
With the pieces in play, the game becomes a standard game of strategy and tactics. The biggest difference between Shogi Master and chess is the manner of promotion and the re-entry of captured pieces, which adds a definite spin to the game. This is a great twist to traditional chess, and chess fans young and old will enjoy trying to master Shogi Master.
Written by: ~Shannon