By Charles GilmanMany attempts have been made, by myself and others, to combine features of FIDE Chess with those of Xiang Qi (often ending in Qi) or Shogi (often ending in -gi) or even both. On one hand the total strength of diagonal pieces may be increased in the Oriental variants, as in Fergus Duniho's Yang Qi and my own Mitregi. On the other Oriental properties may be given to an otherwise standard FIDE army and board, as in Ralph Betza's Chessgi and my own Anglis Qi.
Shogi pieces divide into three groups: the unpromotable King and Goldgeneral, the pieces on the camp's middle rank whose promotion adds the King's move (but not its royal restrictions), and the rest which are promotable to Goldgeneral at the end of any move starting or ending in the enemy camp. Bishogi, like FIDE Chess, has no middle rank. The King is the same throughout, but the Queen replaces the Goldgeneral as its companion. Both remain unpromotable. All other pieces are promotable to Queen, and to Queen alone, at the end of any move starting or ending on the two ranks of the enemy camp. This is the feature unique to Bishogi. As Shogi forward-only pieces must be promoted when they can move no further unpromoted, Bishogi applies this rule to Pawns on the far rank. Players may reintroduce captured pieces exactly as in Shogi, which means that promoted ones return demoted to their original form and Pawns cannot return on the far rank. As all pieces have inter-file moves (even if only by capturing) any piece can return on any file.
As Pawns can be promoted in the seventh rank there is no initial double move. Castling is exactly as in FIDE Chess, as Kings and Rooks start a Rook's move apart in Bishogi as in Fide Chess, but not in Shogi.
Play differs greatly from FIDE Chess without the dwindling total strength of the FIDE endgame. The stronger promotees make it a more aggressive game than Shogi itself but, as Pawn promotion does not survive capture, achieving an overwhelming army of twenty or more long-range pieces is harder in Bishogi than in Chessgi. If this seems minor note how Dragonfly does away with Queens altogether, in the array or as promotees. A reasonably good player of both standard games, used to looking for good places to reintroduce, might be well-matched against a much better FIDE player who knows no Shogi. Conversely an ignorance of the actual moves of Shogi is no obstacle for all-round quick learners. Practice at reintroducing pieces in Bishogi might serve as a stepping stone to Shogi itself.
How is it best to represent all this physically?
It can be played with a Shogi set minus the four surplus pieces aside, but this detracts from the familiarity aspect. In any case owners of Shogi sets are likely to know Shogi moves, and may struggle to remember that pieces in this variant are supposed to have FIDE moves!
Two FIDE sets per game are unnecessary as one directionalised novelty set will do just as well. All this is equally true for Chessgi. A further requirement specific to Bishogi is to record what a promoted piece was prior to promotion. One way is to put a Draughts piece under the promoted piece. Depending on the exact shape of the pieces an alternative might be to mark promotees with caps/collars/robes of brightly-coloured card.
Practically-gifted perfectionists might wish to try creating a custom-built Shogi-style set, with the standard markings for the King/Rook/Bishop and markings with new Japanese names for the Queen/Knight/Pawn. Sekijin (lit., Stone sword) might do for the Pawn, meaning attacking like the Sekisho (Stone general) in Dai Shogi.
CANNIBAL BISHOGI is a variant where pieces in the opposite army to that which they started are Crooked. In the case of Pawns and Knights this shows itself only in promotion to a fully Crooked Queen. Pieces recaptured by their original army are Straight again. The name was inspired by a comment on a variant using Crooked Bishops, in which Crooked was misspelled as Cooked! This subvariant requires keeping track of a piece's original owner as well as its current one. This might best be solved with a novelty set of a kind that is directionalised but also has some element of distinctive colouring.
DUAL-RETURN BISHOGI is a variant where pieces in the opposite army to that which they started have the duals of their original moves, returning to their original moves if recaptured by their original army. Pawn <=> Yeoman, Rook <=> Bishop, Knight <=> Camel. Queens are unaffected, array or promotee. Again there is a need to keep track of a piece's original owner as well as its current one, which can be solved as with Cannibal Bishogi.
FILGI is to Bishogi what Shatranji is to Chessgi. The pieces have their ancient moves (Queen and promoted Pawn as Ferz, Bishop as leaping Elephant). Back-rank pieces are promoted by adding the Ferz move to their own (restoring Shogi Rook promotion). As throughout this page, captured pieces return unpromoted.