The Chess Variant Pages

Yonin Shogi


Yonin Shogi is a four-handed Shogi variant which can be played on a regular
Shogi board if one has two sets of pieces.  George Hodges credits the
invention of this game to Ota Mitsuyasu, mayor of Hirata City.  An extended
introduction will replace this one when some more information about the
history of this variant is acquired.


The four players sit on the four sides of the board.  On their back three
rows, in the five central columns, each player starts with the following
setup, with pieces pointing away from them as in Shogi:


P: Pawn
R: Rook
S: Silver
G: Gold
K: King


All pieces move and promote as their Shogi counterparts.  Note that since
there are four players, each promotion zone overlaps with two others.


All rules, unless stated otherwise, are identical to those of Shogi,
including pawn drop restrictions.  I am unsure of the rules to determine
who goes first, but play is clockwise.

There is also a way to play in partnerships, but I am not clear on all of
the rules regarding what is or is not legal.

When a player is put in check, the turn shifts immediately to them.  If at
any time, two or more players are simultaneously in check, whichever one
would go first according to the regular turn order gets to go next.  If one
player is checkmated, then whoever made the last move (not necessarily the
player who originally gave check) counts as having checkmated them.

When one player is checkmated, the checkmating player flips over their
king, takes all their in-hand pieces, and takes control of their on-board
pieces from that point on.  (Flipped kings act as blockades, and no piece
can capture or pass over them.)  When you take control of another player's
pieces, they still retain their orientations and promote in their original
promotion zone.  You cannot capture your own pieces, even if they are
facing a different direction, and you may only ever drop pieces so they
face in your own original direction.

The first player to checkmate two others, or to checkmate a player who has
already checkmated another, wins.


Any additional information pertaining to Yonin's history or any corrections
or additional info regarding the rules would be greatly appreciated.  All
the information I have was gathered from tinkering with the Yonin Shogi
game for Super Famicom while not being able to read any of the Japanese
text therein.  (If anyone would like to help me by translating the text of
that game's tutorial, that would also be appreciated as it may help to
clarify some rules.)

Thanks to Ed (who didn't provide his last name) for bringing George Hodges'
leaflet to my attention.

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Author: Jared B. McComb. Inventor: Ota Mitsuyasu.
Web page created: 2005-06-10. Web page last updated: 2005-06-10