Xiangqi (象棋), also known as Chinese Chess, is a strategy board game involving two players and it is considered as an important part of the traditional Chinese culture. It is so popular that many competitions are held not only in China but also overseas.
It basically represents a battle between two armies and has the objective of capturing the enemy’s general (将/帅).
There are in total 16 pieces for each player, and the two armies are usually colored red and black. Each army is composed of one general, two advisors, two elephants, two horses, two chariots, two cannons, and five soldiers, and just like international chess, each of them must be moved in a particular way based on the rules of this game.
The board for Xiangqi is nine lines wide and ten lines long, and the pieces are placed on the intersections. There is also a space named “river” (河) between the fifth and sixth horizontal lines which divides the two opposite sides, but only two pieces are affected by it: the soldiers, who can also move sideways after crossing the river, and the elephants, who cannot cross it.
The basic rules state that each player in turns moves one piece from one to another point, and they can be moved onto a point occupied by an enemy piece to capture it, and the latter is therefore removed from the board.
The game ends when one player captures the other’s general, by announcing a check when the general is in danger or creating a situation called “checkmate” (将死), in which the endangered general’s player cannot make any move to prevent the general’s capture.
Written by Romina Chen