By  Malcolm Allison


Issue 25

Jan/Feb 87

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SHOGI is the smallest of the Japanese versions of the game Chess. The game was developed from the same roots as chess and therefore has many similarities but also major differences.

The board is a 9 x 9 square and is uniformly coloured, making diagonal attacks harder to see. The pieces are traditionally made of wood and have Japanese characters carved in them, then black lacquer applied to make the characters stand out. The pieces are of uniform colour, wedge shaped and pointed at the front to denote ownership, your pieces pointing towards your opponent and his pointing to you.

The program has what I hope are complete instructions with simple diagrams to explain the moves so I won't go into too many details here. Captured pieces may be returned to the board as part of your forces, which is why they possess no identifying colour. All pieces, except the King and Gold, may be promoted when they make all or part of their move in your opponents setup area. When promoted the pieces are turned over to reveal different characters. All the characters must be learnt in the normal and reversed positions i.e. for your opponents pieces. This makes it harder for westerners to learn Shogi.

The two sides are called Black and White with Black moving up the board and starting each game. In Shogi sets, often only the Black King possesses the extra spot as shown in the program and the player drawing this piece starts the game.

There are many different styles of characters used on the pieces and sets may therefore differ from the characters shown in the program. The set I have is a pocket version and the characters for the promoted pieces do not correspond to those used in the program. The designs of characters and the understanding of the rules of the game came mainly from SHOGI magazine published by THE SHOGI ASSOCIATION Ltd., P.O.BOX 77, BROMLEY, KENT and GAMES AND PUZZLES magazine issue No.24 May 1974. All the magazines I have are before 1979 and I do not know if the Shogi Association still exists, but if anybody wishes to know more about Shogi and the other versions of Japanese Chess it would be worthwhile trying to contact this organisation.

The program allows two players to play Shogi, with the computer checking move legality, giving a description of the move played and checking for check. The program will only allow legal moves. It does not check for checkmate since this would be too time consuming but if you cannot get out of check by entering a move then obviously you have been checkmated.

The moves are entered using algebraic notation, the letters and numbers reversed from normal Chess notation. Sample games are included in the program to help aid learning the game. They are all taken from Japanese championship tournaments and extended where necessary so that the games end in checkmate.

Before typing in the sample game lines POKE 82,0 to make them fit into the computer's standard line. The moves will then line up into neat columns.

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