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This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2008-12-18
 Author: Hans L. Bodlaender and Fergus  Duniho. Chinese Chess. Links and rules for Xiangqi (Chinese Chess). (9x10, Cells: 90) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Kevin Pacey wrote on 2016-09-19 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

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.

Eshaan Singh wrote on 2012-02-22 UTCGood ★★★★
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!

Anonymous wrote on 2012-01-01 UTCGood ★★★★
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

Liyuan wrote on 2010-06-10 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
This is very good introduction to ÏóÆå¡£Thank you!

I have one suggestion here about the meaning of ½«. it is not 'will' or
'going to' here, although it does have such meanings. The character by
itself means something similar to 'to lead' as a verb, or it could mean
'leader/general' as an abbreviation for ½«Áì. It is also a military rank
nowadays. ½« is pronounced with the fourth tone here whereas when it's
used to express the meaning of 'will' or 'going to', it's pronounced
with the third tone.

Flowerman wrote on 2010-03-09 UTCGood ★★★★
I have question: what are early variants of Xian-qi?

ChessAndXiangqiPlaye wrote on 2009-08-29 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I've been thinking about the question of whether Chess or Xiangqi (Chinese
Chess) is strictly speaking the more complex game when viewed from the
perspective of complexity theory.

For more information on Chess and Xiangqi, see



Using the ideas of complexity theory, the complexity of Chess and Xiangqi
can be estimated and calculated quantitatively. In general, there are 3
different kinds of complexity a deterministic board game like Chess or
Xiangqi may have:

1 State-space Complexity: the maximum number of possible positions in the
game. It is also possible to calculate an upper bound for state-space
complexity which includes illegal positions as well. The upper bound is
generally speaking much easier to calculate than the exact value, which is
often only given as an accurate estimation.

It is generally calculated that the state-space complexity of Chess is
around 10^50 (10 to the power of 50, or 1 with 50 zeros after it, or one
hundred trillion trillion trillion trillion different positions), while the
state-space complexity of Xiangqi is around 10^48, 100 times less than that
of Chess. This is because despite a larger board (9 times 10 vs. 8 times
8), Xiangqi pieces are generally speaking less powerful than their Chess
equivalents and for many pieces the space over which it can potentially
move is severely restricted. In Chess, the King, Queen, Rook and Knight can
potentially move to every square on the board, the Pawn can potentially
reach more than 6/8th of all the squares (though unlikely to move that much
in a real game), and even the Bishop can reach half of all the squares. In
Xiangqi the General can only stay inside the Palace and move to 9 different
intersections, the Advisor can only move to 5 different intersections and
the Elephant only to 7 different intersections.

Another factor is that the Xiangqi board, having 9 files instead of
Chess's 8, is symmetrical in the left-right direction. This means the left
and right hand sides in Xiangqi are essentially the same, so different
board positions may just be a trivial reflection of the other. This
decreases the effective state-space complexity of Xiangqi by a factor of 2.
In Chess on the other hand, the Kingside and the Queenside are not just a
trivial reflection of each other since the distance the King has to the
edge of the board is different for the left and right hand sides.

Therefore despite having 90 intersections on the Xiangqi board vs. only 64
squares for Chess, the total number of possible positions is around 100
times more in Chess than Xiangqi, 10^50 vs. 10^48.

2 Game-tree Complexity: roughly speaking this is the total number of
possible games one can potentially play with a particular version of board
game. This is different from state-space complexity and the value is
generally speaking far larger because state-space complexity only takes
space and position into account, while game-tree complexity analyses the
actual moves in a game and hence also puts time into account. Generally
speaking, there are many different ways, in terms of playing the game, to
reach a particular position on the board. For instance, the opening
position on the chess board with Ng1-f3 and e2-e4 (moving the King's
Knight and King's Pawn out) can be reached via two different
'game-trees': Nf3 first or e4 first, and the number of possible
game-trees for a given board position increases dramatically as one
progresses into the game and the position becomes much more complex.

Generally it is estimated that the total number of possible games in Chess
is around 10^123 (or 1 with 123 zeros after it), while for Xiangqi it is
10^150, which is 100 million billion times more than Chess. For comparison,
consider that the total number of atoms in the observable universe is only
around 10^80.

There are far more possible games in Xiangqi since it is played on a
larger board (90 instead of 64 spaces), and generally a game of Xiangqi
lasts for more moves than a game of Chess. However, given that the Xiangqi
board is left-right symmetrical and therefore left-hand side play is
identical to right-hand side play, and that since Xiangqi pieces are
generally less powerful and the General is restricted to within the Palace,
the larger number of possible games in the purely technical sense becomes
relatively trivial by the endgame stage, since real play is likely to be
always focused around the General's Palace, and different moves elsewhere
on the board essentially converges to the same kind of endgames. In other
words, whereas in the earlier phase of the game the game-tree of possible
moves branches out, by the endgame in Xiangqi they begin to converge into
one-another, and Xiangqi games generally end in relatively similar
positions (major pieces and pawns around the General's Palace and a
relatively exposed General).

In Chess game-trees also tend to converge more by the endgame but since
the King can move to anywhere on the board and there is the possibility of
pawn promotion, the game converges to a significantly smaller extent than
Xiangqi. Also the approximate estimation for the game-tree complexity of
Chess does not take into account the re-divergence of the game-tree if
enough pawns are promoted into pieces in the endgame. Although in real play
this tends to be an unlikely scenario, in technical calculations of game
complexity this factor should be included. In addition, when the game-tree
complexity of Chess is calculated, unlikely endgame scenarios, such as the
game dragging on unnecessarily for dozens of extra moves that are in
practice trivial, are also included.

Therefore effectively speaking despite the technically higher game-tree
complexity of Xiangqi, I think Chess is actually the more complex game of
the two.

3 Computational Complexity: a third way to calculate game complexity is to
consider how much computational steps are required to play a Chess or
Xiangqi game by a Chess or Xiangqi engine/computer as the actual size of
the game increases in space. E.g. if the Chess board size doubles, how much
more computational power is required? In this both Chess and Xiangqi are
very similar in that computational difficulty increases exponentially (in
terms of the number of calculational steps required to play the game) with
board size. Thus both games are said to be inside the complexity class
called EXPTIME (stands for 'exponential time').

Personally despite being an ethnic Chinese and proud of Chinese culture in
general, I think Chess is a better game than Xiangqi and I'm a better
player in Chess than in Xiangqi. Though of course the Chinese game of
Weiqi/Go is far more complex than either of these games mentioned here.

Charles Gilman wrote on 2009-02-04 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
The illustrations of sets do a lot to put this game into its historic and geographic context.

Has anyone else noticed that the Bare Facing rule is an example, many centuries before the rise of music downloads, of a restriction on file sharing? wrote on 2008-05-29 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I like this site: Play Chinese Chess against people for free!

Me wrote on 2008-02-22 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Thanks!! This is great!! I already played and whew!! It is very good.

Anonymous wrote on 2007-12-28 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
A useful resource. Thanks for the website.

SCRIBD wrote on 2007-11-12 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Download a Free Xiangqi Book

[I have removed the link as it appears to be a copyrighted work. Please do
not post such links on our site. Thanks. --Editors]

Randy wrote on 2007-08-14 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
beginner searching for info - great resource

151 wrote on 2007-04-06 UTCAverage ★★★
I want to play see how good I am wrote on 2007-02-18 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Thank you for the link: This is a great site to play Chinese Chess with other online players. This site has a very easy to use interface and free of commercial advertisements. It's great and I think Chesscape should be added to the Chinese Chess link so other reader can go there and play as well. Nice found! Thank you! wrote on 2007-02-17 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I found this nice website to play Chinese Chess (totally free) against other players online or pratice against the computer. Go check it out:

Sonia wrote on 2006-11-04 UTCGood ★★★★
I was just wondering if there's a different way to play Chinese Chess!

Jazz wrote on 2006-10-25 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Thanks a bunch, mate. I bought a set without rules and you've given me a huge memory aid. Cheers.

Marek Futrega wrote on 2006-10-21 UTCGood ★★★★
Play Xiangqi section misses
(one of the few places where you can play this game against other people
with non-Chinese user interface)

Anonymous wrote on 2006-10-05 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Now I finally know how to play 'that funky chess game with cannons!' SWEET! This is pretty cool and I think i'll try making some pieces and board. I might even end up making Xianqi in wood. I have to say, having not only the rules and game set-up but western equivalent names and the setup with westernized pieces, all rocks! You could possibly add pictures demonstrating each piece's moves and stalemates. Now don't think that your explanations are hard to follow, in fact they are extraordinarily easy to follow compared to most stuff I've read. Nice job.

Christine Bagley-Jones wrote on 2006-06-18 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
hey here is another 'good' rating for an 'excellent' game :)

Fire_Dancer wrote on 2006-05-26 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
very good for me to know. Now i can play chinese chess. :)

Beauty_fire wrote on 2006-05-26 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Very interesting

KID wrote on 2006-05-14 UTCGood ★★★★
a lot of good info good for my chess report

The_Beast wrote on 2006-05-10 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Thanks for the page!

One small suggestion would be a mention of Gabriel's totally different offering as Chinese Chess. As someone might pick it up in a thrift store, and find they'd made a mistake based on your excellent description, a warning seems considerate.

Mind you, Gabriel's version fascinates me as no one 'owns' pieces.

C.S. Graves wrote on 2006-05-05 UTCBelowAverage ★★
I love xiangqi, and I'd like to see 'mao' on this page finally changed to 'ma'. Referring to the horse in xiangqi as a 'mao' caused me no small amount of embarassment when playing with a young Chinese woman at our weiqi club! Let's make this page an accurate source of information, rather than continuing to cite an author who was mistaken.

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