At the beginning of the Twentieth Century, "International Chess" was the only widely known chess variant in the West. It had its problems. People tried
them. Of course, they could just play xiangqi
instead. There's also janggi
, and the granddaddy of them all, chaturanga
. Perhaps the most refined game in the family, however, is Japanese Chess--shogi
Shogi is a slower game than international chess, with few pieces able to range freely. Pieces remain in play throughout the game--captured enemy pieces can be "dropped" onto the board, using a move to do so; in practice, this thoroughly changes the strategy. Computer opponents
aren't quite as good at shogi as they are at chess, probably due to the higher branching factor
: even though pieces can't range as far, drops add a large number of possibilities to the game, particularly in the endgame.
The game remains relatively unpopular internationally. "Western" Chess is played in most countries, including the Asian nations, and local variants (like xiangqi and Makruk) enjoy more popularity in their respective countries than shogi does. Even in Japan, shogi plays second fiddle to Go
. Still, the game has its charms, and you might play a game
or two to get a feel for it, though Kurnik lags significantly behind its go-specific brethren
in terms of interface and features.
Who knows, though? Soon there could be a boom in popularity. Shion no Oh
is an anime with shogi as a central theme. Hell, it worked
for Go, right?! Of course, Go never seemed to have an inferiority complex (or a board) quite this stupidly huge