The Chess Variant Pages



National Standard Chinese Pieces for Chinese Chess and Variants

All of these pieces were made from boldface, sans-serif-like, simplified Chinese characters. They are in the GB style of character, which stands for "Guojia Biaozhun" or "National Standard." It is the official standard of Red China. I downloaded all characters from ocrat.com. The wooden backgrounds come from photographs of wood samples, specifically ash and walnut. If you would like to use these images on one of your own pages at chessvariants.com, you can find the image's URL by clicking on it. Every image is in this folder, and the image name is what appears below the name with the ".gif" extention added. These are all GIF files. Do not link to these from an outside site.

Standard Chinese Chess Pieces

Here are various wooden pieces for use with Chinese Chess and variants. First, here are the standard pieces used in Chinese Chess. The table shows the corresponding pieces on each side in the same column.

BGeneral.gif
BGeneral
BChariot.gif
BChariot
BCannon.gif
BCannon
BHorse.gif
BHorse
BGuard.gif
BGuard
BElephant.gif
BElephant
BPawn.gif
BPawn
WCommander.gif
WCommander
WChariot.gif
WChariot
WCannon.gif
WCannon
WHorse.gif
WHorse
WGuard.gif
WGuard
WPrimeminister.gif
WPrimeminister
WPawn.gif
WPawn

Alternate Chinese Chess Pieces

These pieces are in Chinese Chess but do not normally belong to the color they are in. They are included here, because I made full sets of pieces.

WGeneral.gif
WGeneral
BCommander.gif
BCommander
WElephant.gif
WElephant
BPrimeminister.gif
BPrimeminister
WPawn-alt.gif
WPawn-alt
BPawn-alt.gif
BPawn-alt

Yáng Qí Pieces

Here are pieces used in Yáng Qí but not Chinese Chess

Vao -- A Diagonal Cannon

BArrow.gif
BArrow
I used the Arrow for the Vao, which moves like a Cannon on diagonal lines. Although Vao sounds like Pao, which is Chinese, Vao is apparently a madeup word with no Chinese character. This character, shi, means arrow and also means the English verb vow. The idea behind calling it an arrow is that it captures like an arrow shooting over someone's head. The pieces shown below were considered for this piece but not chosen. I favored characters having to do with archery over the character for gun, because archery is an art, whereas any clod can carry a gun. I wanted the piece to be a skilled archer, not some unskilled clod carrying a piece. I disqualified the piece called Archer, because, despite showing a person holding a bow, I haven't found any reference that the character actually means archer. I chose Arrow over Bow, because I liked the name Arrow better, its Chinese name was close to the piece it replaced (shi), and it also meant vow, which sounds like Vao. But I think the Bow may work better visually.
WArrow.gif
WArrow
BGun.gif
BGun
BArcher.gif
BArcher
BBow.gif
BBow
WGun.gif
WGun
WArcher.gif
WArcher
WBow.gif
WBow

Bishop

WSage.gif
WSage
Since I could find no Chinese character for Bishop, I used a Chinese character for a similar (though more ecumenical) concept, a Sage. I got the idea for this name from an old German name for the Bishop, der Alte, and a modern Hebrew name for the Bishop, zaken, which both mean sage. Another character I considered was the angle character used in the Shogi piece that moves like a Bishop. But I couldn't get a suitable name from that character, I liked the sage character better, as it looked like a person, and I wanted the piece to represent someone of wisdom and education. A piece called Angle or Horn would not do this.
BSage.gif
BSage
WAngle.gif
WAngle
BAngle.gif
BAngle

King

BKing.gif
BKing

Instead of using the General or Commander for the King in Yáng Qí, I chose a character that is used for the King in Shogi. This is a suitable choice, because the Yáng Qí King moves like the Shogi King, not like the General and Commander in Chinese Chess. I preferred it because its simplicity made it more recognizable, its resemblance to a cross could help others recognize it as a King, and its use in Shogi would help Shogi players recognize it. I also considered the character that Sun Tzu used for Sovereign in the Art of War. It is very similar with only an extra mark at top, but that mark made it look a bit more like the Arrow character, and I wanted to differentiate these two pieces as much as possible.

WKing.gif
WKing
BSovereign.gif
BSovereign
WSovereign.gif
WSovereign

Download Pieces

You can download all the pieces in this zip file, which contains Windows bitmap files of each image, all ready for use with Zillions of Games. This zip file contains this set, the traditional set, and a western set based on my abstract pieces. All three sets contain all the pieces for Chinese Chess and Yáng Qí.


Written by Fergus Duniho
WWW Page Created: Tuesday, June 19, 2001