The Chess Variant Pages

Three Player Hex Shogi 91

by Fergus Duniho

Three Player Hex Shogi 91 is a Shogi variant for three players on a hexagonally shaped board of 91 hexagons. It is played very much like Shogi, except that pieces are adapted to a hexagonal board, there are three sides, the object is different, and the restrictions on Pawn drops are different. It plays by most of the rules of Hex Shogi, a class of hexagonal Shogi variants invented by Fergus Duniho.


Shortly after I created Hex Shogi, Peter Aronson wrote to me:

Looking at your interesting articles on Hex Shogi, I was reminded of some thoughts I once had on three-player Chess variants and the petit diplomacy problem. While I'm sure you're aware of it, I'll repeat it here for the sake of discussion. There are two parts:

(1) In a three-player game, one player can sit out the fighting while the other two fight. Then, once the fighting is over, defeat the damaged victor.

(2) In a three-player game, two players can gang up on the third, eliminate them, and then fight each other to the death.

It seems to me that a three-player Shogi variant would not suffer from (1) at all, since the victor would have captured a substantial number of their victim's pieces, and be stronger (at least in material) than the player who stayed out. And while (2) isn't eliminated, in a Shogi variant the co-conspirators have a lot more reason to fall out early in the process: neither is going to want the other to capture too many of the player they are dismembering's stronger pieces.

It looks to me that the movements you have defined for pieces in Hex Shogi would work well in a three-player Shogi variant, since the forward-moving pieces, having two forward directions, could (if the armies are arranged in a triangle) move towards either opponent. What do you think?

I regarded these as all excellent points, and I proceeded to create a three player version of Hex Shogi. I knew that Zillions of Games wasn't suited for the usual three player Chess variants, yet I wanted to be able to play it on Zillions of Games. The main problem that Zillions had with three player games is that it would end as soon as someone lost--even if no one had won yet. I got around this by setting an object that doesn't end the game until someone wins. This was that a player wins by acquiring all three Kings. This object also happened to work better in a Shogi context than a Chess context, because players normally keep and replay the pieces they capture in Shogi. So I let the same thing be done with Kings. To prevent players from hoarding captured Kings, I also added a rule that captured Kings must be dropped before other pieces. I then implemented the game for Zillions, playtested it, and settled on a setup suitable for the game.



For the full rules of Three Player Hex Shogi, supplement this page with the rules for Hex Shogi. Three Player Hex Shogi is played like Hex Shogi with the following exceptions:


To win, you must acquire all three Kings. There is no check or checkmate. Kings may freely stay in or move into danger. Resignation is permitted only when one player has lost all his pieces and the game is down to two players.


The game is a draw if the same position is repeated three times, fifty moves pass without a capture, every player is forced to pass, or all players in the game agree to a draw. But none of these draw conditions are likely to occur. There is no stalemate in the usual sense. When a player cannot move, he is forced to pass. Passing is not allowed unless it is forced. When a player has lost all his pieces, he is forced to pass until the end of the game, already predestined to lose. If a game is drawn after one player has already lost all of his pieces, the draw does not apply to that player. In tournament play, that player would receive zero points, and the others would each receive a half point. In a draw between all three players, each player would receive a third point. In an official tournament, players should not be allowed to draw a game by agreement.

Captured Kings

When a King is captured, a player holds it in hand like any other piece, and it may be dropped on any empty space (even a threatened space) during a subsequent turn. When a player holds a King in hand, he may not drop other pieces. To drop any other pieces, a player must first drop any Kings held in hand.


The promotion zone for each player consists of the three horizontal ranks (by that player's own perspective) on the opposite side of the board from where his pieces start out. This partially overlaps where the other two players start. When a piece moves from, into, or within its promotion zone, it may promote if there is a piece it promotes to.

Orientation of Pieces

The first player (Black) faces a 12 o'clock direction, as the first player does in Shogi or Hex Shogi. The second player (White) faces a 4 o'clock direction, and the third player (Gray) faces an 8 o'clock direction. The orientation of a player's pieces determines the forward and backward directions for a piece. The forward directions for the first player are 10 o'clock through 2 o'clock; for the second player 2 o'clock through 6 o'clock; and for the third player 6 o'clock through 10 o'clock. This affects how the Pawns, Lances, Knights, and Gold and Silver Generals of each player move. From each player's own perspective, his pieces move exactly the same as they would in Hex Shogi, but the pieces of the other players will seem to move differently than they do in two-player Hex Shogi. The following table of diagrams shows how orientation affects these pieces. Kings, Bishops, Rooks, and promoted Bishops and Rooks are unaffected by orientation, and are not shown in this table.





Gold General

Silver General

Zillions of Games

Three Player Hex Shogi 91 has been implemented for Zillions of Games. You may download it here:

Note: This ZRFs requires at least Zillions 1.1.1. If you don't have Zillions 1.1.1., you may get it to work by deleting the (translate ) block at the beginning of the file. Unlike my Hex Shogi ZRFs, it does not use multiple piece sets.

Written by Fergus Duniho
WWW Page Created: 17 November 2000