Comments by webbe
There's a large number of pieces which would struggle to checkmate a king. A player that's behind would be tempted to capture all of their opponent's pawns and hope that there is insufficient mating material.
One suggestion is for pieces to be able to promote to themselves plus a king movement when entering the opponent's camp, with the idea of king + any being able to checkmate a lone king.
Some pieces would benefit more than others, though. Also, the game would become more complicated as the piece values would change.
It's interesting that the Nightrider is relatively popular, while the Knight equivalent to a Pao (Cannon) and Vao (diagonal equivalent) is in obscurity.
They are alike in terms of complexity. The latter is more challenging to defend against, even though it's weaker.
(Also, the diagram of its movement is currently hosted on an external site, with a warning on the page.)
There is a larger version of the image which looks better.
Though the movement grids are difficult to discern for my colourblind eyes.
I read on the wiki talk page for Tenjiku about the idea that jumping generals could have been intended to do more than just jump-capture.
The start position shows the generals in front of the Fire Demons, both straight ahead and diagonally. There is no opportunity for jumping generals to capture Fire Demons in the start position, which is intentional.
It doesn't seem right that there is so much protection for Fire Demons, yet in some versions of the game, the King could be threatened and captured without even being able to evade the attack, as it's boxed in.
(In fact, the Bishop General could just mate the opponent's King on the first move if there were no restrictions on jumping.)
If the generals could jump whenever they wanted as far as they liked, the game would become even more tactically sharp than it already is. However, it doesn't break the game.
The Great General can't jump two squares diagonally to threaten one of the Fire Demons as the Rook General would capture it.
The best the Bishop Generals can do is to manoeuvre and attack a Horned Falcon or Soaring Eagle.
The idea that jumping generals could capture all of the opposing pieces they jumped over in one turn is plausible. I don't know if the game would break, but the inventor(s) of Tenjiku weren't sentimental about pieces — allowing Fire Demons to punch large holes into positions — so having more pieces do the same seems logical.
The Great General could just capture the Vice General; Free Eagle; Queen; Drunk Elephant; and a Pawn on the first move (with check). This doesn't seem intentional.
One of the Bishop Generals could move to the edge of the board and threaten to capture a Soaring Eagle; Water Buffalo; Phoenix; Drunk Elephant; and a Pawn. The Soaring Eagle can leap out of the way, though.
Otherwise, everything is sufficiently well defended that jumping generals couldn't capture a total of anything worth more than themselves, as they are even stronger than their current form.
That could be why Fire Demons are so powerful — with burning and sliding and an area move — because they would be ecliped otherwise by the jumping generals.
The board size (16×16) and large number of pieces that do very little makes more sense if there were even more crazy pieces. The game might devolve into a capture-fest, but that might have been the intention.
Whoever had the imagination to create this game has to be admired. I consider this to be the most ambitious of all the historical variants as its construction is so delicately balanced, even with the ambiguity in the rules themselves.
That's great and really interesting to know, thank you both Jean-Louis and H. G. Muller for your replies. I'll have a look into the book and see if I can buy a copy.
The Flying Dragon move that also appears in Dai makes sense. It would be odd for the Bishop to appear in Heian Dai without the Rook as well. In fact, I can't recall any other game that has that property.
In Ten Shogi Variants by George Hodges, he says that Maruo Manabe made up the moves for the pieces and that influenced Steve Evans to put the moves in the image above:
The late Maruo Manabe, of Chigasaki, Japan, who during the 1970s and 1980s was widely considered to be the foremost expert on the Shogi variants, studied this problem of the possible moves and promotions of the pieces. Giving credence to later texts and theories, he suggested moves for those pieces not met with in normal Shogi for those who might wish to try out the game. He assumed that all pieces promote to a Gold General at the third rank, except for the Flying Dragon, which adds the power to go one step in the four orthogonal directions. (Bishop becomes a Dragon King)
You're more informed than I am about the dates of things. Wish it were possible to ask the designers of the games about their thought processes and their choices. Oh well.
Also, Tomoyuki Takami posted his thoughts on the game in 2015 (in Japanese) and believes that it was made before Dai, though with the pieces closer together. He's done extensive research on other variants like Maka Dai Dai as well.
This is just speculation. I wonder if this game was derived from Dai Shogi as a simpler form, itself perhaps a simpler form of Maka Dai Dai Shogi?
The Go Between is placed oddly. It has no effect on the Flying Dragons (aka Bishops), which themselves point at each other.
The piece density is 40%; not improbable (Wa Shogi is 45%) but seems strange.
If there were three less ranks (13×13 board becomes 13×10), the Go Between would become relevant; the Flying Dragons wouldn't attack each other after pawn moves; and the piece density would increase to 52%, making for a tighter game.
There would also be a more natural four rows between the pawns, just as in Dai.
Sadly, there is no way of knowing for sure as the rules of the game are incomplete, though I would be happy to know more. 13×13 may be the correct size if it were played on a Go board on the points (e.g. Ko Shogi for 19×19).
The set groups Chushin Shogi and Taishin Shogi have no working graphics for any of the sets listed.
The interactive diagram works, however the images for the pieces don't load for me.
I checked the browser console and it says that the images will not load if a website uses HTTPS and the images are hosted on a third party website that uses HTTP-only:
The kanji for 'Hawk' (鷹) in the piece Lion Hawk is the same as used for 'Falcon' in the Horned Falcon; while the 'Eagle' (鷲) appears in both the Soaring Eagle and the Free Eagle.
I am curious if the historical moves of the Lion Hawk and Free Eagle are not just Lion + Bishop and Queen + double-move Ferz respectively.
Could the Lion Hawk and Free Eagle instead have moved as Lion + Horned Falcon and Queen + Soaring Eagle respectively?
The Lion Hawk would be more powerful, able to move as a Lion and slide as a Queen except vertically forwards.
The Free Eagle would be slightly less powerful, moving as a Queen with the added Lion power covering two spaces each on the forward diagonals.
This could be the reference that the Free Eagle could move twice as a 'Cat Sword' (Ferz) in the Shōgi Zushiki and Sho Shōgi Zushiki, perhaps created from ambiguity in how the move is described.
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A weakened version of the Tenjiku Fire Demon, but still having Demon character, could be made by limiting the burning to a maximum number of neighbors.
I like the idea of the Fire Demon capturing everything around it with either a more limited move, or if it did not instantly capture but had to stand still to capture everything, similar to the Heavenly Tetrarchs but with up to eight pieces.
Playing Tenjiku Shogi is highly recommended; a not-too-strong computer opponent that could be used as a sparring partner is available in the form of Jocly.
Thank you for the recommendation and the link. I have given this some thought over the weekend and will try Tenjiku again and learn how to play.
Thanks for mentioning Makyou Shogi, I'm glad someone noticed it :) It's a work-in-progress still, but I do enjoy it as a smaller, rapid-fire introduction to Tenjiku Shogi.
Looking forward to playing it when it's ready! Your website is a wonderful resource and persuaded me on the merits of the larger variants, including Dai Shogi, which I had assumed was superseded by Chu in all respects and has its own personality.
I appreciate the time people take into the simplified forms, and know that Japanese players feel the same about the large variants. They have attempted to reduce the game of Chu Shogi down to 10×10, and very recently 9×9:
Lion Shogi and board setup.
Give it a try before you go for even weaker pieces :) The original, full-power Demon is still usable even on 12x12. Personally I'd rather see this game with a stronger Demon than an even weaker one.
I've been thinking about this and will give it another go. Setup should be considerably faster now that I can recall the Chu Shogi start position by heart and aim to do the same for Tenjiku.
My hesitancy in playing was based on Colin Adams suggesting that Black may have a very strong opening advantage, and the choice paralysis of what to play as an opening.
The first seems to have been mitigated according to Wikipedia (based on the Chess Variants website rules). The second is something I'll have to try, and with ten pieces more powerful than the Lion on the board will take a bit of experimenting.
The Fire Demon does look like a lot of fun to play with and will have to accept that the first few games with my friend will just be the chess equivalent of a fireworks display!
That's great, thank you Fergus.
I really like these experiments with reducing the size of Tenjiku Shogi with H. G. Muller's Nutty Shogi and Dr Eric Silverman's Makyou Shogi.
What I like about this version is that the powers of the super pieces are more limited and the weaker pieces have been boosted. The board is also about the right size and the prmotion rule is intriguing.
The original powers of the Fire Demon and Generals were such that they could cause devastation and that any mistakes could be punished very quickly.
In fact I would like to see a version with even more limited pieces, where generals can only leap one piece and area movers are limited to two king moves.
I have never played Tenjiku. Me and a friend spent an hour setting up the game for the first time in a cafe and had to pack it away, just admiring the pieces all set up. I'll metion this game to him and see what he thinks of it.
A couple of things I am curious about is the lack of symmetry with the Phoenix and Kirin which looks a bit odd, and if it would be a good idea to have a Dog on g5 and g9 to prevent the early trading of Rook Generals.
Also a couple of issues with the page: in the piece table it currently it has a Rook General promote to a Free Eagle, and the King promotes to a Vice General in the interactive diagram.
The page is really well thought through and presented and must have taken a lot of work, well done.
I'm ready to publish. Could an editor review this page please?
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This looks good. You could remove the Side Movers as they make the game too defensive, and the Coppers that promote to them at the same time. Lances that promote to Great Tigers cover at least the same movement capability as Side Movers.
Knights could move to where the Coppers are, allowing them to move freely in the opening.
The Drunk Elephant could also be removed as its promotion to Crown Prince would drag the game out needlessly.
A defender is needed for the second pawn (in particular) and second-to-last pawn. The Dragon Horse can capture and promote without being captured otherwise.