> Let's start with chess, the most widely played game (geographically) of
> the family. It ranks very highly on history and tradition, game length,
> strategical principles, and early interaction. Unfortunately the draw
> percentage is too high (around 50% at high levels), and this is mostly due
> to the nature of the game rather than to lack of fighting spirit. The
> chances of the two players are quite unequal, white winning about 5 games
> for each 3 won by black at high level. Memorized opening theory is way too
> important at high level, though ideas like shuffle chess could solve this
> problem. Variety of play is not bad but could be much better. So chess
> gets 4 1/2 good grades out of 8. Shuffle chess would score the same,
> gaining a point on memorized theory but losing it back on history and
> tradition, of which it has none.
I'm certainly not a good chess player, but I think it's safe to say that
playing shogi is much more fun than playing chess for a novice. The drop
rule permits one to create the position one wants in many cases, which
means that many tactical themes that occur only rarely in chess can be
"manufactured" using drops in shogi. I also think that the fact that pawns
cannot capture forward in chess tends to create blockaded positions which
sometimes makes it hard to get any attack going. What usually seems to
happen in these cases is that pieces get exchanged and before you know it
you're in the endgame. Thus chess games often become a war of
attrition. This can't happen in shogi, and shogi endgames are vastly more
interesting than chess endgames by any reasonable comparison.
> Okay, how about Chu-shogi, the topic of much discussion on this list.
> It certainly has history and tradition, though most of it is lost to us now,
> so let's give it 1/2 for this. I suspect that the percentage of draws among
> masters would be very low, though I don't believe there are any masters in
> the world now to test this hypothesis. Similarly I cannot imaging that the
> first move could be more than a trivial advantage, perhaps 51-49%.
> Memorized opening theory is obviously not a problem; even if it existed, it
> is very unlikely that this would ever be a decisive factor in such a complex
> and long game. Variety of play is obviously enormous; in fact I'll only
> give it 1/2 credit because the variety of moves of the different promoted
> and unpromoted pieces is far more than anyone would ever need to enjoy the
> game, and simply serves to lower the standard of play by making it difficult
> to ever become proficient with all the different pieces. Game length is
> much longer than most people would consider desirable, though the game is
> certainly of playable length. Early interaction certainly can occur, though
> the space between the camps minimizes it, so I'll give Chu half credit here.
> As for strategical principles, in my opinion there are not so many here, as
> the tactical element seems to dominate the game, but I'll give it half
> credit, mostly due to my not being expert enough to say for sure.
I haven't played Chu (yet; I'm eager to try), but I find it hard to imagine
that a game played on a 12x12 board with 92 pieces could have less
strategical complexity than chess, played on an 8x8 board. Perhaps you
could elaborate here? Wayne Schmittberger has argued that the tactical
complexity of Chu is so great that, in fact, strategy dominates tactics
because it's hard to read many moves deep, and so the important thing for
Chu players is to learn to intuitively assess the merits of a position,
much as Go players have to.
> Sorry I don't even know what
> "tenjiku" shogi is, so no comment here.
Check it out; it's pretty cool. George Hodges sells rule leaflets, and
Colin's book has the rules. A tactical nightmare/paradise, depending on
> Now for shogi, as it is currently played by millions of Japanese and a
> few thousand Westerners. History and tradition are there in abundance,
> comparable to chess. The draw % (about 2% in pro play, 1% in amateur) is
> minimal (some might argue it's too low!). The advantage of first move is
> minimal (about 52-48%). Variety of play is nearly ideal (ten piece types,
> including promoted rook and bishop, versus six in chess). Memorized theory
> is a big problem, nearly as much as in chess, though the chances of turning
> around a bad opening are better in shogi, so I'll give it 1/4 (maybe we need
> shuffle-shogi !). Game length is ideal. Early interaction is adequate,
> though a bit less than in chess, so I'll give it 3/4. Strategic principles
> are quite ample, perhaps on a par with chess. So shogi gets 7 out of 8,
> making it clearly the winner of this "competition".
I agree with your assessment from my experience. I think the only "flaw"
in shogi is the standardization of the openings, and that something like
"shuffle-shogi" will be necessary to keep the game from getting bogged down
by opening theory. Has anyone played shuffle-shogi? I must add that most
of what I've read on shogi seems to focus on tactics, giving the idea that
the game is primarily tactical. I suppose this is true in the endgame, but
it would be interesting to read more about shogi strategy beyond analysis
of the opening.
It's interesting that nobody has mentioned go except in passing. Even
though this is a shogi mailing list, I'm fascinated by the contrast between
shogi and go. Go seems to me to have much more varied openings than chess
or shogi (even with standard josekis, the fact that there are four corners
to play them in makes each game completely different) and enormous tactical
complexity (albeit of a vastly different kind). The main area where shogi
surpasses go is in the endgame, which (barring stupid blunders) tends not
to be too tense in go, but of course is very exciting in shogi.
Michael> I haven't played Chu (yet; I'm eager to try), but I find
Go for it! (oops, pun not intended - Chu for it!).
Michael> elaborate here? Wayne Schmittberger has argued that the
Michael> tactical complexity of Chu is so great that, in fact,
Michael> strategy dominates tactics because it's hard to read many
Michael> moves deep, and so the important thing for Chu players is
Michael> to learn to intuitively assess the merits of a position,
Michael> much as Go players have to.
That's an interesting comparison, which I hadn't thought of (I am a Go
player, so perhaps I should have done so). I'll extend it - in Chu, as
in Go, it's important to know when you HAVE to read deeply, and when
you can get away with a glance analysis. This comes from experience,
of course, as well as from thinking about the nature of the game.
Colin Paul Adams
Larry> variety of moves of the different promoted and unpromoted
Larry> pieces is far more than anyone would ever need to enjoy the
Larry> game, and simply serves to lower the standard of play by
Larry> making it difficult to ever become proficient with all the
Larry> different pieces.
I have to disagree here. It doesn't take very long at all, if you are
prepared to put in a little effort. Studying the mating problems helps
here (and is a great delight (to me - it's the only game in which I
really ENJOY studying problems)).
Larry> so I'll give Chu half credit here. As for strategical
Larry> principles, in my opinion there are not so many here, as
Larry> the tactical element seems to dominate the game, but I'll
This just isn't so. Chu is predominantly a strategic game. However, in
practice games are often decided by tactical blunders, but that is
because people don't play it enough. I'll just reel off a list of
strategic principles from the top of my head:
Centralise your lion in a forward position.
Force the opposing lion into a passive position.
Attack on the side of the enemy king.
Keep your king in the centre.
Keep your strong pieces in the rear until the endgame.
Create a strong pawn centre - reinforced by the step movers.
Clear the third and fourth ranks as a moat to stop the Lion
Don't attack without support.
Try to promote a vertical mover in the middle game.
Try to promote the phoenix in the early end game.
Advance side movers to the fourth rank.
Always know where you are going to move your lion, in the face of any
possible move by your opponent.
NEVER waste a tempo.
Save your clock time for the endgame (and so, play quickly in the
That should do for starters.