The Chess Variant Pages




 

SHANGHAI PALACE CHESS*

by Gary K. Gifford © 2004

*With a "Non-mirrored setup" contributed by L. Lynn Smith

 

Foreword

Almost as soon as Shanghai Palace Chess made its debut it drew criticism. Comparisons of it to a Frankenstein’s Monster; statements that it was an ugly cut-and-paste of three wonderful games; and words to the effect that it was not a playable game. I considered these opinions to be of the "Green Eggs and Ham" syndrome. Something Dr. Seuss pointed out long ago… essentially, the criticizing of something before trying it. It certainly is playable…. I have already played many games of it.

Since the initial criticisms, L. Lynn Smith has created a ZRF file of the game. That file includes Mr. Smith’s "non-mirrored" setup, which is nice in that it has the Shogi element of diagonally opposed Shogi Bishops.

 

The L. Lynn Smith "Non-Mirrored" Setup

 

The Concept of Shanghai Palace Chess

I developed the concept of SHANGHAI Palace Chess a few years ago as part of an outline for a short story. In the story three students from different cultures were arguing over which form of chess was best. The Chinese student said, "Xianqi has a river. It is great to get the pawns across the river, for then they become very powerful. And unlike western chess, you cannot ever hide behind a pawn chain or hope for some fancy queen promotion to save your game. We have amazing cannons that leap over pieces to capture others. Our Chinese characters on jade are very nice." The western student countered, "Your Chinese symbol pieces aren’t easy to use if you don’t know Chinese. And your pieces move on intersections; that’s terrible. Squares of light and dark and three-dimensional pieces are what help a game to look really good. And …" The Japanese student interrupted, "A game’s appearance is not crucial. After all, you can use different pieces and boards that are to your liking. What is important are the rules of the game. The rules are the laws of physics that the pieces, in their small world, must adhere to. In Japanese chess, the captured Shogi pieces get to return to the game. And that is a wonderful element. It makes every game very exciting."

As they debated, a wise man entered the room. He listened to their arguments for a short time before quietly leaving. On the following day the students returned. To their surprise they saw a Shogi board. It was not the board that was surprising, but the fact that it had been set up using pieces from Shogi, Chess, and Xianqi.

 

The wise man entered the room and gestured at the board. "Yesterday, I had the chance to observe your clash of ideas. And after thinking about many of your words, this game came to me. The red pieces are considered to be on the south side of the board, and move first as in Chinese Chess. On the right, or east, we have the Japanese Shogi pieces. In the center we have a Chinese palace with Xianqi pieces and a visiting Queen from the west. Be assured that she is most welcome. And to the left, or west, we have western chess pieces and a second Lance. I would like you to play this game for several days. And then, after giving it some thought, see if you can tell me which game is truly best."

 

How to Play Shanghai Palace Chess 

(Applies to mirrored & non-mirrored versions)

Object: Checkmate the opposing King, or get the opposing King in a stalemate. As in Chinese Chess, a stalemate is a loss for the side that cannot move. Three time repetition of moves is forbidden (see rules for Chinese chess).

Comments regarding the 9 x 9 board:

      • Refer to the diagram on page 1 for initial setup.
      • The 5th rank is the promotion "river" for Chinese Pawns.
      • The 5th rank begins the promotion zone for Shogi pieces. Standard Shogi rules apply to Shogi piece promotion.
      • The 9th rank is where western pawns can and must promote. They can only promote to western pieces.
      • Each of 2 Palaces consists of 9 squares. For Red these are D1, D2, D3, E1, E2, E3, F1, F2, F3. For Blue the Palace is defined by D9, D8, D7, E9, E8, E7, F9, F8, F7. The Kings cannot leave the Palace, nor can the Guards.
      • Chinese pieces make use of squares, instead of points; but otherwise move as they normally would.

Comments Regarding Pieces:

The rules for Chinese, Japanese, and Western Chess need to be known before playing Shanghai Palace as they will not be repeated here. Notes are provided below to help clarify a few points.

Chinese Kings: Chinese Kings are confined to the palace. King movement is the same as in Chinese Chess. As in Chinese Chess, Kings cannot face each other across the board.

Guards: Move as in Chinese Chess. They cannot leave the Palace.

Elephants: Move as in Chinese Chess. The elephants can move onto the fifth rank squares of C5 and G5. But red elephants can never move to the 6th rank or beyond and blue elephants can never move to the 4th rank or lower.

Chinese Pawns: Chinese Pawns move as in Chinese Chess. They must promote when reaching the fifth rank, as that is equivalent to the Chinese "River" for them.

Cannons: The Cannons move and capture as in Chinese Chess.

Western Pieces: The western pieces move as they do in western chess, with the following exception for Pawns: they cannot advance an initial 2 spaces, there is no pawn en passant, and they promote when they reach the last rank. They can only promote to western pieces.

Shogi Pieces: The Shogi promotion zone begins on the fifth rank. Thus, a pawn moving to H5 could promote to a Gold General. As in Shogi, you cannot have two non-promoted Shogi pawns [of the same color] in the same file. You can, however, drop a Shogi Pawn in the same file as a Western or Chinese Pawn. There are no Gold Generals at the beginning of Shanghai Palace.

 

 

The Shanghai Palace Piece Set

King
(Chinese)

Guard

Elephant

Cannon

Pawn
Chinese

Pawn
Western

Bishop
Western

Knight
Western

Queen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rook
Western

 

Pawn
Shogi

Lance
Shogi

Knight

Shogi

Silver
General

 

Bishop
Shogi

Rook
Shogi

 

 

 

 

 

Promoted
Shogi Pieces
(Red)

 

Gold
P+

Gold
L+

Gold
N+

Gold
S+

 

Horse
B+

Dragon
R+

 

 

 

 

Note: Because of the "Shogi aspect" of the game, the Blue pieces in Shanghai Palace Chess will appear upside down when viewed from the Red (South) side of the board.

King
(Chinese)

Guard

Elephant

Cannon

Pawn
Chinese

Pawn
Western

Bishop
Western

Knight
Western

Queen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rook
Western

 

Pawn
Shogi

Lance
Shogi

Knight

Shogi

Silver
General

 

Bishop
Shogi

Rook
Shogi

 

 

 

 

Promoted
Shogi Pieces
(Blue)

 

Gold
P+

Gold
L+

Gold
N+

Gold
S+

 

Horse
B+

Dragon
R+

 

 

 

 

A Special Thanks

A special thanks to: Jason Jakupca, for play testing Shanghai Palace Chess, The Corel Corporation, for the use of their fan lady clip art, ChessVariants.com, for maintaining an excellent playable archive of chess variants, Tony Quintanilla for pushing for a game courier pre-set, and L. Lynn Smith for his encouragement and for the creation of a playable Shanghai Palace Chess for ZillionsofGames.com.

- Gary K. Gifford April 14, 2004

Shanghai Palace Chess © 2004 by Gary K. Gifford