The playing field for Canonical Chess is a diagonally-oriented board with 81 locations -- in keeping with the Xiang Qi tradition, the game may be played on the points of an 8x8 board consisting of 64 squares. A version of the game board is shown below:
Locations may be identified with "oblique algebraic" notation: the "files" (a through i) are to White's right; the “ranks” (1 through 9) are to White's left (e.g., the White King stands on a1 and the Black King on i9; the vacant corners to White's left and right are a9 and i1, respectively). Some basic directions may be described as "along oblique lines" (along a rank or file) and "horizontally or vertically". The three marked areas are White' s fortress (the nine points a1-c3) at the lower end, Black's fortress (the 9 points g7-i9) at the upper end and "the crossing" running horizontally at the center of the board.
|Pawn||Initially slides one point obliquely forward to move or capture. It is promoted upon reaching a location fully on the opponent’s side of the crossing, and may thereafter also slide one point horizontally to move or capture.|
|Rook||Slides one or more points along oblique lines to move or capture.|
|Bishop||Slides one or more points like a Rook when making a non-capturing move; it captures along the same lines but must vault over a single friendly or opposing unit (the “screen”) when capturing a unit further away.|
|Knight||Moves or captures by sliding to a destination two points away by making either (a) one step along oblique lines then continuing away one step horizontally or vertically or (b) one step horizontally or vertically then continuing away one step along oblique lines. It does not leap over occupied points. (Knight = Mao + Moa)|
|Queen||Moves or captures by sliding one point within the fortress vertically, horizontally or along oblique lines. It may not leave the fortress area.|
|King||Moves or captures by sliding one point within the fortress along oblique lines to a point where it is safe from capture. It may not leave the fortress area.|