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Xiangqi: Chinese Chess. Links and rules for Xiangqi (Chinese Chess). (9x10, Cells: 90) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Kevin Pacey wrote on Fri, Jul 15, 2022 11:47 PM UTC:

I'm wondering what the number of moves played in an average game of Chinese Chess would be (for comparison, I've seen 40 or 42 moves given for FIDE Chess). Does anyone know?

Paul English wrote on Fri, Dec 18, 2020 08:14 PM UTC:
You can play Chinese chess for free at

Kevin Pacey wrote on Wed, Dec 5, 2018 05:43 AM UTC:

Thanks, H.G.!

H. G. Muller wrote on Tue, Dec 4, 2018 11:14 AM UTC:

If there was nothing unprotected in your Palace that was attacked by the Cannon, this is indeed not a chase, and thus a draw. In Asia rules a mate threat (even mate in one) is not considered a chase in itself; you really must threaten to capture something on the subsequent move for that. A frequently occurring case is a King behind a pinned Advisor (e.g. by a Rook or together with Elephant by a Cannon), threatened to be mated on the last rank by a Rook. To prevent the mate the King steps aside, but then a check with that same Rook from the front drives it back behind its Advisor, after which the Rook resumes its original location to threaten the back-rank mate. This counts as 1-check, 1-idle, and thus a draw. Even if the mating square contained an unprotected piece (say the other Elephant), the 1-check + 1-chase is also allowed (under the general rule that alternately chasing different pieces is allowed).

Kevin Pacey wrote on Sat, Dec 1, 2018 01:09 AM UTC:

In one game of Chinese Chess I recently finished, afterwards I thought I might have defended better if a certain 3-fold repetition of position was allowed by the rules (and thus considered a draw), if my opponent didn't avoid it, in one particular sequence of moves I'd thought of. Srictly speaking there was no chasing (or checking) involved, but nor was the repetition voluntary on the part of the defender (me) if I was to avoid losing quickly.

The sequence I wrote of can be descibed as: 1) I move a minister (elephant) away from my palace's central line, and thus the opponent's cannon (in his own camp, on the central line) is no longer attacking any points in my palace. To fight this defence, 2) he puts a minister of his own on the central line in front of his cannon, each piece in his own palace, with the result that his cannon is attacking all the points on the central line in front of his own minister, including all those in my palace. To defend against this, 3) I would move my minister back to where it was, on my palace's central line, at which point his cannon no longer attacks the points on the central line behind my minister (in my palace) since my minister and his both occupy the middle line, in front of his cannon. To fight this defence, 4) he moves his minister away from in front of his cannon, and once again his cannon attacks the points behind my minister on the central line (in my palace). At this point a repetition may have already occured once, depending where his minister went to, but if things keep proceeding in this fashion then a 3-fold repetition would eventually occur.

It's my guess, based on what you've written H.G., that this sort of sequence would be (by Asian rules) ruled a draw, though once again the rules used for the Game Courier preset I was using state simply that 'repetition is to be avoided'.

H. G. Muller wrote on Tue, Sep 5, 2017 06:34 PM UTC:

Yes, repetition that doesn't violate the checking and chasing rules, or where both players violate it equally, is a draw in Chinese Chess (according to 'Asia rules'). Perpetually checking is considered a worse offense than chasing non-royals. So if both players are perpetually checking, it is a draw. If only one is perpetually checking, he will lose, even if the other is chasing other pieces, and has some check amongst his moves. And even if the checking is the only legal move he has. If both players are perpetually chasing, it is also draw. Even if one chases a Rook, and the other a Horse.

I think it is the 3rd repetition that counts, like in Chess.

Note that the rules are actually far more complex than what is stated in the article. For one, it is not just back-and-forth moving, but general repetition of positions, like in FIDE Chess. (Although, like in Chess, back-and-forth moving is by far the most common.) The game result is determined from all positions since the first occurrence of the position. Checking is easily defined, but chasing is quite complex. Basically it is creating new attacks on the same unprotected piece, where both attacking and protecting is defined in terms of legal moves. (I.e. an attack must be able to legally capture the piece, and a protector must be able to legally recapture after that.) If you force a repetition by creating new attacks alternately on different pieces, this is OK. If you alternately attack the same piece with different pieces with every move in the repeat cycle, you are in violation.

There are many refinements to this basic rule:

  • Attacks with King or Pawn do not count
  • Attacks on an unpromoted Pawn do not count
  • The ability of a piece to (legally) capture its attacker is considered equivalent to protection
  • A Rook always counts as unprotected against attacks by Horse or Cannon
  • Attacks are not considered new if they only were illegal before the move because they would not resolve an existing check

Kevin Pacey wrote on Tue, Sep 5, 2017 05:02 PM UTC:

@ Fergus:

I don't know if this has been asked before, but it is not entirely clear to me whether it is illegal to draw by theoretically indefinitely repeating the position during a game, by a series of moves that involve neither checks nor any pursuing attacks on pieces. I cannot yet find a reference to this exact situation on this webpage (nor in a book I own, even). However, the preset I'm playing on right now states that "repetition is to be avoided" (not entirely clear to me that this is an official rule, or one just used by the preset, if it's even enforced by it).

H. G. Muller wrote on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 07:38 AM UTC:

The modifier 'y' is a 'range toggle', and does not affect direction. I introduced the convention that directions in continuation legs are always encoded in the K system, so that fs always means diagonally forward. If you really would want a second W step that could go to both the D and the F squares (which is rare, because these are non-symmetry-related paths),you can always write ffsW to prevent the f+s are parsed as one direction. (Or actually write nothing at all, because the default directionality for a continuation leg is 'all directions except back to the square you came from'. So aW would do it.)

Thus afsW is the XQ Horse, which still is a stepper on the second leg, while yafsW is an Aanca, (that cannot move to the W squares, but can be blocked there) which slides in the second leg. And afsR would be a 'Bent Rook', which can slide in both legs, and thus decide where it takes the corner,making it an enormously powerfull piece.

Aurelian Florea wrote on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 07:15 AM UTC:

Noob qustion (again):Why the knight doesn't need an y modifier for turning 45 degrees? I mean what does ayfW means then? From what I understand in your spelling H.G., afsW means that you have passed (somehow unblocked) throught the dababah square!

H. G. Muller wrote on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 05:59 AM UTC:
files=9 ranks=10 promoZone=5 promoChoice=Q graphicsDir=/membergraphics/MSelven-chess/ whitePrefix=w blackPrefix=b graphicsType=png darkShade=#C8E0A8 lightShade=#F0FFC0 startShade=#70C060 symmetry=mirror pawn::fW::a4,c4,e4,g4,i4 pawn (passed):Q:fsW:pawn: advisor::F:ferz:d1,f1 elephant::afF::c1,g1 horse::afsW:horse:b1,h1 cannon::::b3,h3 rook::::a1,i1 king::WfafyafcW:wazir:e1


The question came up whether interactive diagrams could handle a zonal board like that of Xiangqi. The answer is 'yes', but not without adding a tiny bit of script next to the regular specification of the diagram, to specify which pieces cannot go where. To demonstrate that, I posted the diagram on the left.

The part I am not very happy about is the description of the non-facing rule for the Kings in Betza notation, though. For clarity this should have been fcR, where the zonal restriction of the King would suppress everything outside the Palace, but can make an exception for moves that land on a King. But unfortunately that would leave fD captures inside its own Palace, when the King is on the back rank.

I solved that now by defining the forward slide as starting with a lame leap of 3 squares (to make sure the King gets out of its own Palace) before sliding as a Rook for the remaining part of the path. This leads to an ugly multi-leg description, first two move-only Wazir steps, and then a range-toggle ('y') to turn the Wazir atom into a Rook. It would have been nice if there had been a Betza modifier 'k' to indicate 'capture king only'. Then the move could have been written as fkR. But this is a very exceptional case, and it is probably not wise to dedicate one of the few still available letters for such an uncommon task. Perhaps it would be better to allow diacritical markings to commonly used modifiers to indicate they are somehow restricted. Like c" for 'capture, but only royals', and p' for 'must hop, but not over enemy pieces'. The full Xiangqi King move would then be Wfc"R.

Extra scripting

To get the above result two JavaScript functions that the general diagram script optionally uses had to be supplied:

  • BadZone(x,y,piece,color) to confine pieces to a limited part of the board
  • Shade(x,y) to define a board coloration different from the normal checkering

Both these functions are expected to return 0 or 1, in the latter case to indicate whether squares are dark or light, in the former case whether the piece is not allowed at the given location.

Kevin Pacey wrote on Mon, Sep 19, 2016 01:55 AM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★

I like all the possible (and exotic) endgames that can arise in this game. My chess friends and I that play this variant now & then are still at the stage of learning to avoid gross threats.

A valuation system given by H.T.Lau: R=9; CA=4.5; N=4; CO=2; M=2; P(after crosses river)=2; P(before crosses river)=1. Bear in mind that this is just for the context of this game, as naturally a rook would be of lower value in a chess-like game played with a board of these dimensions.

Daniil Frolov wrote on Wed, Sep 7, 2016 02:38 PM UTC:

A Soviet animation with Vietnamese screenwriter and assistants, based upon an Vietnamese fairy tale or myth (Russian language). Skipped to 1:35:

The Lord of the Sky is playing chess with Mistress Drought for the Earth's water.

The game they are playing is clearly Xiang-Qi (as we know, in Vietnam they play the same chess, as in China, unlike Korea with a clearly different version). However, there is something strange about the board: on the place of the River, there are Palace-like crossed squares. Is it an actual way to mark Xiang-Qi board in Vietnam, or it's merely an animator's mistake?

jcfrog wrote on Tue, Mar 11, 2014 04:00 PM UTC:


I would like to propose you a very new Xiangqi online version:

Different skins are available for 2D / 3D views, and original / western pieces.

This game can be played on our platform ( but also embeded in any web page. You can even change the rules or the design by modifying our initial game with some local pieces/board tuning on your site.

Our goal is to let anyone make any chess variant for playing, testing rules, plus providing a set of tools to show or analyse games.

And we need experts to validate and expand our work :)

Any feedback would be much appreciated.

Any question will be answered.



M Winther wrote on Sun, Apr 15, 2012 07:09 AM UTC:
By the way, my implementation of Chinese Chess is an example of what tweaking can accomplish when programming Zillions. It is much superior to the standard Zillions version, and quite a strong opponent. It is also possible to use  Zillions to build an opening database in a directory tree of Zillions games. The directories are named according to the variation ("Central Cannon (vs) Single Horse", etc.). To see that variation one simply double-clicks the game.

🕸📝Fergus Duniho wrote on Sun, Apr 15, 2012 02:52 AM UTC:
Although this site has an interesting table of contents, I could find no actual content at it.

goodxiangqi wrote on Sun, Apr 15, 2012 02:27 AM UTC:
Dear fans,

   Do you like to learn Xiangqi (Chinese chess)?  Please visit:


Eshaan Singh wrote on Wed, Feb 22, 2012 07:12 AM UTC:Good ★★★★
I found this chinese chess webpage quite useful, because at least now I have a better idea on what chinese chess is. Although a bit of the help I needed was not found in the webpage, I still overall rate this webpage good. I can't wait to start palying chinese chess with my friends!

Charles Gilman wrote on Thu, Jan 19, 2012 07:20 AM UTC:
Regarding 10x10 variants, see also here for one with two royally-restricted pieces aside.

George Duke wrote on Wed, Jan 18, 2012 07:47 PM UTC:
Xiangqi variant. Board 10x10. Six Pawns. Palace 3x4 the same three ranks deep, Advisers start within Palace on opposite bishop-colours, and the only one new Piece is nonroyal Wazir. Wazir is otherwise exactly like King confined to palace. All other pairs, rules, and the King the same. So four pieces of three types must stay in palace. Of necessity the Elephants are oppositely-bishop-colour-bound too; and each reaches two different palace squares/spots/points. Each Elephant still reaches 7 points, like Xiangqi 10x9. Pawns a4, c4, e4, f4, h4, j4.

M Winther wrote on Wed, Jan 4, 2012 02:22 PM UTC:
That is interesting. One could post to a Chinese chess forum and ask somebody to translate.
Large Chinese Chess

Ed wrote on Tue, Jan 3, 2012 11:30 AM UTC:
I found an image of a Chinese chess variant
(,pAUWBxBWVKVEd2U,kVZZA) that I don't
recognize and wonder if anyone knows what one it is.  I have searched on
the Chessvariants' website but have found nothing similar.

From what I can see, the board has been lengthened by two ranks on each
side of the river, the extended range of the elephant inscribed on the
board, and the governor used for both sides as the royal piece in the
fortress; the generals (two per side) are positioned for a new function,
seems, outside the fortress.

Anonymous wrote on Sun, Jan 1, 2012 11:44 AM UTC:Good ★★★★
great introduction :D i feel that to win in xiangqi you should think more about what your opponent can move and counter it as you are advancing your pieces over the river. thinking more can make you more experienced in the game too as it you can know how to react to certain moves of the opponent

🕸📝Fergus Duniho wrote on Wed, Feb 16, 2011 06:44 PM UTC:
Game Courier, Coffee Chinese Chess, and my ZRF for Chinese Chess all give you the option of using a wheel image for the Chariot. The Rook is used on this page to more easily introduce the game to Chess players who are new to the game. The Chess pieces used on this page are not targeted at people, such as yourself, who have already been playing the game for years. They are here mainly for Chess players who have no prior experience with Xiangqi.

Travis Z wrote on Wed, Feb 16, 2011 05:32 AM UTC:
A very nice well put page. However my only minor remark would be that the there is not a western symbol on the page for the chariot. I see the rook which is the same thing, but it does not have the same feeling. I remember growing up and always seeing a picture of a chariot on the piece.

H. G. Muller wrote on Fri, Jan 21, 2011 04:50 PM UTC:
I agree that longer repeat cycles are quite rare. Although they would get more frequent when you allow them, but not 4-ply cycles, because the losing player would start to especially seek them in order to dodge the 4-ply rule. I tested in engine games, and between an engine that knows the rule, and one that doesn't, about 13% of the games end in a perpetual chase. (when both know about perpetual checking. If one of them does not know that rule, he would lose almost every game by doing it.)

The point is of course that it becomes progressively more difficult to keep chasing the piece for a longer number of moves. But this would typically occur when the chased side does not know that chasing is illegal, and desparately tries to escape it. (E.g. a passed Pawn chased by a Rook along files, running back and forth over the full width of the board.)

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