The Chess Variant Pages

The Piececlopedia is intended as a scholarly reference concerning the history and naming conventions of pieces used in Chess variants. But it is not a set of standards concerning what you must call pieces in newly invented games.

Piececlopedia: General (Xiang Qi)

Historical notes

The General is the simplest royally-restricted piece in any standard form of Chess, being used in the Chinese standard game Xiang Qi. It moves like a Wazir, one square in any orthogonal direction, but like the more mobile King of most standard games it has royal restrictions imposed on it and is often termed a King itself. The King can be considered a compound of this piece, restrictions and all, with the Ferz, just as the King's capturable counterpart, the Prince, Guard or Mann, can of the Wazir and Ferz. The General also occurs in the orthogonal-dominated Wellisch Hexagonal Chess and some forms of 3d Chess, in the latter case to avoid the ease of evading checkmate that a standard King (let alone a 26-directional King, also called an Emperor) enjoys on such a board! A General can reach 4 neighbouring cells on a square-cell board, 6 on a hex or cubic one, 8 on a hex-prism board (the same as a King on a square board!), and an impressive 12 in Tetrahedral Chess.


The General moves like a Wazir, but cannot move to - or remain on - a square threatened by an enemy piece. In Xiang Qi, though not in hexagonal and 3d variants, it is further restricted to the middle three files and its own first three ranks, and two generals may not occupy the same file without at least one intervening piece.

Movement diagram

The General can move to any square marked with a black circle. If however such a square is in line with an enemy Rook or General without an intervening piece, or an enemy Cannon with exactly one such piece, the General cannot move there, nor to a cell guarded by any other suitably unobstructed enemy. An enemy Rook diagonally adjacent to the General, or an enemy Knight (unobstructed if lame, as those in Xiang Qi are) an Elephant's move away, will bar it from two destination cells, though not fron staying still.


The Korean version of this piece is intermediate between the Chinese General and the King as it may also move along the "honorary orthogonals" radiating one cell diagonally from the second cells of the centre files.
This is an item in the Piececlopedia: an overview of different (fairy) chess pieces.
Written by Charles Gilman.
WWW page created: June 22, 2005.