The Chess Variant Pages

Mortal Shogi

Introduction

One characteristic of Shogi is that all pieces are immortal. Captured pieces change sides but never leave the game. This game introduces mortality to the pieces in Shogi without losing the ability to drop captured pieces. Captured pieces are demoted to the next lowest ranking piece -- when there is a lower ranking piece. When there isn't, the captured piece is removed from the game.

This game is the result of a collaboration between Roberto Lavieri and Fergus Duniho. Fergus created an earlier game, Mortal Chessgi, which inspired Roberto with the idea for Mortal Shogi. Following up on Roberto's suggestion, which was given as a comment on the Mortal Chessgi page, Fergus came up with a set of rules for Mortal Shogi, and Roberto offered some further suggestions on the game. Much of the discussion on the game's development took place in a game of Mortal Chessgi that we played online. This game is the result.

Setup

The initial setup is exactly the same as it is for Shogi.


   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+  
a  | L | N | S | G | K | G | S | N | L |  
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+  
b  |   | R |   |   |   |   |   | B |   |  
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+  
c  | P | P | P | P | P | P | P | P | P |  
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+  
d  |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |  
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+  
e  |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |  
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+  
f  |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |  
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+  
g  | p | p | p | p | p | p | p | p | p |  
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+  
h  |   | b |   |   |   |   |   | r |   |  
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+  
i  | l | n | s | g | k | g | s | n | l |  
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+  
     9   8   7   6   5   4   3   2   1    

Pieces

All pieces come from Shogi. They move the same but are subject to different rules concerning promotion and demotion. The usual promoted forms of Pawn, Knight, Lance, and Silver General are not used in this game. Instead, these pieces simply promote to higher ranking pieces.

k
King
The King moves one space in any direction, but not into check. The object is to checkmate the King.
d
Dragon King
The Dragon King moves like a Rook or one space diagonally. A captured Dragon King demotes to a Dragon Horse.
h
Dragon Horse
The Dragon Horse moves like a Bishop or one space orthogonally. A captured Dragon Horse demotes to a Rook.
r
Rook
The Rook moves just the same as in Chess. It slides over any number of empty spaces vertically or horizontally, ending its move by capturing a piece or stopping on an empty space. When it enters, exits, or moves with the promotion zone, a Rook may promote to a Dragon King. A captured Rook demotes to a Bishop.
b
Bishop
A Bishop moves just the same as in Chess. It slides over any number of empty spaces in any diagonal direction, ending its move by capturing a piece or stopping on an empty space. When it enters, exits, or moves with the promotion zone, a Rook may promote to a Dragon Horse. A captured Bishop demotes to a Gold General.
g
Gold General
A Gold General moves one space in any forward or orthogonal direction. This is any direction except diagonally backwards. A Gold General does not promote to anything. A captured Gold General demotes to a Silver General.
s
Silver General
A Silver General moves one space in any forward or diagonal direction. When it enters, exits, or moves within the promotion zone, it may promote to a Gold General. A captured Silver General demotes to a Lance.
l
Lance
A Lance moves like a Rook but only forward. It may slide vertically forward over any number of empty spaces, ending its move by capturing a piece or stopping on an empty space. When it enters or moves within the promotion zone, it may promote to a Silver General or a Gold General. Upon reaching the last rank, it must promote to one of these. A captured Lance demotes to a Knight. A Lance in hand may not be dropped on the last rank.
n
Knight
A Knight has the two forward-most moves of a Chess Knight. It may leap to either of the two spaces that could be reached by moving two spaces forward, followed by one more space left or right. When it enters or moves within the promotion zone, it may promote to a Lance, Silver General, or Gold General. Upon reaching the last rank, it must promote to a Silver General or a Gold General. A captured Knight demotes to a Pawn. A Knight in hand may not be dropped on either of the last two ranks.
p
Pawn
A Pawn moves one space vertically forward, both for capturing and not capturing. When it enters the promotion zone, it may promote to a Knight, Lance, Silver General, or Gold General. When it reaches the second-to-last rank, it may promote to a Lance, Silver General, or Gold General. Upon reaching the last rank, it must promote to a Silver General or Gold General. A captured Pawn is removed from the game. A Pawn in hand may not be dropped on the last rank, nor in any file with another Pawn belonging to the same side, nor if it would checkmate the enemy King.

Rules

Mortal Shogi is played like Shogi, except for the rules concerning captures and promotions. As in Shogi, the object is to checkmate the King, and the Black side moves first.

Captures

Whenever a Pawn is captured, it is not put in hand. Instead of this, it is removed from the game. Whenever any other piece is captured, it demotes to the next lowest ranking piece, following this order from highest to lowest: Dragon King, Dragon Horse, Rook, Bishop, Gold General, Silver General, Lance, Knight, Pawn. This is the order that the pieces are listed in above. This replaces the rule in Shogi that promoted pieces demote back to their unpromoted forms. After demotion, a captured piece changes sides and is held in hand by the capturing player, who may drop it on a subsequent turn.

Promotions

As in Shogi, certain pieces may promote by entering, exiting, or moving within the promotion zone, which is for each player the last three ranks from his own perspective. The pieces that may promote are the Pawn, Knight, Lance, Silver General, Bishop, and Rook. This is the same as in Shogi. As in Shogi, Bishops promote to Dragon Horses, and Rooks promote to Dragon Kings.

Unlike Shogi, Mortal Shogi does not distinguish between Tokins, promoted Lances, promoted Knights, and promoted Silver Generals. Instead, when any piece lower ranking than a Gold General has the opportunity to promote, it may promote to any higher ranking piece up to and including a Gold General, provided there are spaces remaining on the board that it could legally move to as the piece it promotes to. So, nothing may promote to a Lance once it reaches the last rank, and nothing may promote to a Knight once it reaches either of the last two ranks. Also, a piece must promote whenever it moves to a space from which it has no more possible moves. This applies to the the Lance and Pawn, which must promote upon reaching the last rank, and to the Knight, which must promote upon reaching either of the last two ranks.

Dropping

Dropping rules are just the same as in Shogi. With certain restrictions, a piece may be dropped on any empty space. An obvious restriction on any drop is that the resulting position must be legal. A second restriction on each piece, though applicable to only a few, is that there must be spaces remaining on the board to which it could legally move. Thus, Pawns and Lances may not be dropped on the last rank, and Knights may not be dropped on either of the last two ranks. Finally, there are a couple more restrictions for dropping Pawns. First, a Pawn may not be dropped in any file that already has a Pawn belonging to the same side. Second, a Pawn drop may never be used to checkmate the enemy King.

Computer Play

Stay tuned for a Zillions version of Mortal Shogi. It is in the works.

Zillions of Games installed on your computer, you can play this game. Download file: mortalshogi.zip.

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You can also play this game by email or online, using the Game Courier system on this site, using the preset found here:

Equipment

Unlike Shogi, it is possible to have more of some piece than you started out with. To cover all possibilities, even the most extreme, you will need ten Shogi sets. If you choose to make individual pieces instead of collecting ten sets, you will need 38 each of Pawns, Knights, Lances, Silver Generals, and Gold Generals, 4 each of Dragon Kings, Dragon Horses, Rooks, and Bishops, and only 2 Kings.

This game is best suited for playing over a computer interface, such as Zillions of Games or Game Courier.

Sample Game

The following game between Fergus Duniho and Roberto Lavieri was won by Roberto:


Written by Fergus Duniho.
WWW page created: October 7, 2003.