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This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2008-10-29
 By Larry L. Smith. Xiang Hex. Missing description (9x7, Cells: 79) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Smith wrote on 2008-11-21 UTCGood ★★★★
Doesn't the board need to be one rank longer?

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2008-11-21 UTC


I have programmed a Xiang Hex Game Courier Preset. It seems to be working well, but before officially releasing it, I was wondering if you or anyone else would care to beta-test it and let me know if you find any problems with it. Note that it does not use the coordinates described on this page. It uses Game Courier's standard hex coordinates, which are easier to program directions of movement for.

Larry Smith wrote on 2008-11-21 UTC
John, In a word 'Nope'. The 'river' cell already adds an extra step(or half step if you will) for the Soldiers. Have you tried out the Zillions implementation yet?

Larry Smith wrote on 2008-11-21 UTC
Fergus, Mucho kudos. I ran the preset through a series of moves. Testing the Soldier promotion and captures, the Cannon move and capture, the Mandarin restriction to the 'palace' and the Elephants. Chariots and Horses seem to working fine. Even created a check position and the preset recognized it. Looks like it's working good. But will probably have to be run through a few games just be absolutely sure. Once again. Nice work. It looks good.

John Smith wrote on 2008-11-21 UTC
I mean doesn't it need to be one rank SHORTER? So Soldiers can't actually enter the river and there are two cells between them and their opponents, making it the same as Xiang Qi? I haven't tried out the Zillions implementation, because my computer is broken and I have had to use a public computer.

John Smith wrote on 2008-11-21 UTC
Actually, it could be longer if you wanted the board less crowded and still having the properties of an imaginary river, and you could push the Cannons forward, so they are 2 ranks in front of the Horses.

Larry Smith wrote on 2008-11-21 UTC
John, Once again, 'Nope'. This will place the outside Soldiers under direct threat from the opposing Chariots. I worked on this for quite a while. This is the optimal pattern that I arrived at. One not too big or too small. And matching the overall dynamics of the original game. You should really try out the game.

John Smith wrote on 2008-11-21 UTC
I admire that. Do you want to play a game with me on Game Courier?

Larry Smith wrote on 2008-11-21 UTC
Start one up, John. One of the things that developers must keep in mind about the hexagonal cell field is that it is definitely not the same as a square cell field. For example, the orthogonal movers on the square field only have two axes of travel. On the hexagonal field they have three. A potential increase of 50% in power. Thus the reason for burying the Chariots. If they were given easy access to the field early in the game, they would proceed to slaughter.

John Smith wrote on 2008-11-21 UTC
There is one thing I don't like about this game, however. The Palace is smaller and the Mandarins weaker. Only one Mandarin is needed in the opening and middlegame, the other being restricted by the first, just serving as Cannon fodder. I realize there is no way to make a larger Palace and more powerful Mandarins without violating a regularly shaped Palace and the General and Mandarins occupying the lowest rank of it.

John Smith wrote on 2008-11-21 UTC
All this river talk is making me CV design hungry, actually. I want to create a game with the same real river as Christian Freeling's Congo. I'm open to collaboration! ;)

John Smith wrote on 2008-11-22 UTC
Ever think of a Jang Hex?

Larry Smith wrote on 2008-11-24 UTC
I've uploaded a black and white graphic of the playing field(see the note just before the Setup section). I sized it to fit on a standard letter page. It will accommodate pieces which are three-quarters of inch in diameter or less(which my set is). But it can be re-sized for larger sets. It will just not fit on a single page. ;-) To keep the printout neat, just laminate it. Many office supply stores offer this service, including the printing of the page. I merely slipped mine into one of those plastic sleeves which can be gotten at your local Wal-mart.

Larry Smith wrote on 2008-11-26 UTC
Janggi, or Korean Chess, could be applied to this playing field. Though the Elephants would never be able to fully express their potential moves within this field. But that is not a big negative in itself. Give me time to work up a Zillions implementation of this game to see how it plays. BTW, Zillions does not really play XiangQi well, like many other computer programs of the game. They tend to be too aggressive and cannot see the benefit of sacrifice for position. Or even the necessary material to affect a good endgame. Unless they are specificly programmed to keep track of particular pieces, they will often place themselves in the position of having no pieces which can cross the 'river'. As of now, human players rule the game.

M Winther wrote on 2008-11-26 UTC
Larry, my Chinese Chess and Korean Chess,
play much better than the standard Zillions implementations. It is
necessary to tweak the piece values. The effect is sometimes astounding.
I challenge your assumption. These programs outclass most human amateurs.

I also created alternative pieces and an alternative board for your XiangHex or
JangHex. Please make use of them if you like them.
Alternative pieces.

Larry Smith wrote on 2008-11-26 UTC
It would not be a fair test of your programs. To truly test them, you might challenge a ranking master. Post your challenge to a few Asian sites. And you might thoroughly read my posting. I did not say 'all programs'. I said 'many programs'. Yours may be an exception. I look forward to the results of your tests. There was one program around 2006 that did very well against a human in a competition. Was this a dedicated system, or an addon software for the personal computer? Have you heard of any other since? I am rather partial to the graphics in my implementation. Some western players of Asian games have a prejudice of the Kanji symbols. This is primarily because of unfamiliarity. It is quite easy to become familiar with them, if a little effort is applied. Here's a tip on how to beat many XiangQi programs. Play defensively. Let the computer opponent come to you. Sacrifice Elephants or Mandarins to gain material advantage. When the computer opponent has commited sufficient material to this bloodbath, strike.

M Winther wrote on 2008-11-27 UTC
Larry, I used your graphics and improved it, making it more readable. Now it's playing pieces proper, with Chinese signs on them, instead of just Chinese signs. I also made a wooden board. Chessplayers would prefer my graphics, but never mind. The reason why Zillions plays Chinese Chess badly is because the pieces are wrongly valued. I changed the piece values to a more proper evaluation. I tested my version against the Zillions version on a 1.6 GHz computer, at 15 sec per move. The colours were alternated and the openings went differently in each game. My version won six games out of six. I did the same thing with my Korean Chess, it won 5/5. /Mats

Larry Smith wrote on 2008-12-09 UTC
For those who are interested, this is a record of the Game Courier game between John Smith and myself: Red(J. Smith) Black(L. Smith) 1. Ca(b2)-e2 S-e7 2. S-e5 H(h8)-e9 3. S-e6 SxS 4. Ca-h6 S-i5 5. S-g4 S-a5 6. S-g5 CaxS 7. E(g1)-e5 Ca-i6 8. CaxH HxCa 9. CaxS+ H-d6 10. S-i3 S-g6 11. H-g4 CaxCa+ 12. M(f1)-e3 HxS 13. HxS ExH 14. S-i4 H-f3+ 15. G-f1 CaxCh 16. Ch-i3 Ch-b4 17. ChxH ChxCh+ 18. G-e2 Ch-g2+ 19. G-f1 S-c6 20. Resigns By initially concentrating on a defensive game, I was able to gain material advantage. John made the error of over-valuing the opening effectiveness of the Cannon on this hexagonal field and lost both early in the game. Once this occurred, I was able to quickly press an assault on his General, taking out both of his Chariots in the bargain. If he had not resigned I would have easily mated his General.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2009-01-11 UTC

In Xiang Qi, the Advisor (what you're calling a Mandarin in your game description) is capable of blocking checks along every rank and file of the palace, and the Elephant is capable of blocking checks on the middle file and the top rank. In Xiang Hex, the two slanting ranks that pass through the middle of the palace cannot be reached by Advisor or Elephant. Consequently, checks along these lines cannot be blocked by any of the pieces capable of only defense. Furthermore, Elephants are incapable of entering the palace. Thus, defense is compromised in this game in ways it is not compromised in Xiang Qi.

Larry Smith wrote on 2009-01-14 UTC
Fergus, Yep, hexagonal fields are different. The Mandarin, and Elephant, are able to defend one another from the start(unlike the square game). And the Horse and Cannon are able to initial move into the 'palace', thus potentially covering any loss of defense on the part of Mandarins and Elephants. But to state that defense has been 'compromised', you may need to demonstrate how a player can use this to their advantage. Else, the statement might best read as defense is 'different'.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2009-01-14 UTC
Just look at the game I'm playing for an example, in which my opponent has been using it to his advantage.

Larry Smith wrote on 2009-01-14 UTC
Couldn't locate the game. I assume that you mean at Game Courier on this site.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2009-01-15 UTC

The game changed from one I was playing to one I lost. Here it is:


Note that my opponent's Rook is safely on a space that Advisor and Elephant can never reach. By making attacks along the ranks of the palace that Advisors and Elephants can never reach, my opponent was able to easily bypass my defensive pieces. All he had to do was get his Rook and Knight near my palace, and his victory was assured by the holes in my defenses inherent in the game.

Larry Smith wrote on 2009-01-15 UTC
Are you claiming that this particular form of endgame position is impossible in XiangQi? I think that I have figured out what the problem is. It is a matter of perspective. You simply 'expect' this game to play exactly like XiangQi. Just take a deep breath, relax and let it go. ;-) (You might have captured Red's Horse at f4 on turn 3, sacrificing your Horse and eventually saving that Chariot on turn 5. An equal exchange of material, rather than what did occur which placed you in a negative position in relation to your opponent.)

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2009-01-16 UTC
I think that I have figured out what the problem is. It is a matter 
of perspective. You simply 'expect' this game to play exactly like 

No, that is an oversimplification of my perspective, a mere strawman. I have invented hexagonal versions of Shogi, and I know they don't play exactly like Shogi, but they do retain the qualities that make Shogi a good game. I never expected Xiang Hex to play exactly like Xiang Qi, but I do have expectations for any successful hexagonal adaptation of Xiang Qi. The overarching one is that it should retain the qualities that make Xiang Qi a good game. One of these qualities is that the defensive pieces are useful for defense. In Xiang Qi, a Rook and a Knight, unaided by other pieces, could not so easily slip past the full defenses of two Advisors and two Elephants. I have done enough Xiang Qi problems to get a good sense of how useful Advisors and Elephants can be in Xiang Qi. But in Xiang Hex, these pieces are next to useless. Even putting aside that you are trying to adapt Xiang Qi to a hexagonal board, let's just consider that two types of pieces in the game are dedicated to defense. This is true by virtue of their being confined to spaces near their General and being unable to attack the enemy General. As it stands, these pieces are not well-suited to their role in the game.

When Roberto Lavieri and I created Mortal Shogi, one thing that made its gameplay very different from Shogi was that captured Pawns could not be held in hand to be dropped back on the board. To make the gameplay more like Shogi, I introduced a new piece that was not in Shogi. This was the Kamikaze of Kamikaze Mortal Shogi. I made it less like Shogi (in terms of details) to make it more like Shogi (in terms of gameplay). I'm suggesting that you need to do something to Xiang Hex that may make it less like Xiang Qi in the details to make it more like Xiang Qi in gameplay. Here are some suggestions: (1) Add two more Advisors. (2) Change the move of the Advisor, perhaps (a) having it move to and from the center of the palace instead of moving diagonally, or (b) allowing it a two-space orthogonal leap, or something else. (3) Change the move of the Elephant, perhaps allowing it to step three spaces orthogonally in addition to stepping two diagonally.

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