Thursday, March 19, 2015

Tsumeshogi (詰将棋)

Tsumeshogi (詰将棋) is the shogi equivalent of chess puzzles. Chess puzzles and Japanese chess puzzles are both mentally stimulating, and just plain fun. Since I just finished creating my 200th tsume (詰) for my Japanese chess site, I figured this is a great time to share a few more of my thoughts on shogi (将棋) puzzles.

If your'e reading this, you probably know about my book on Japanese chess puzzles. I sell it on amazon and basically every other outlet worldwide. Creating all those puzzles for the book was a real eye opener. I learned a lot more about the movement of knights (桂馬), silver generals (銀将), and capturing kings (王) than I every knew before. The most exciting thing was learning novel ways that the pieces work together. The game is a lot more intricate than the rules imply.

One of the most surprising results of writing the book is the new insights I have. Now, when I examine tsume (詰) created by other people, I see hints of the solution that they did not intend to give away. For example, there are certain ways rooks (飛車) and bishops (角行) are used in tsumeshogi (詰将棋) that hint that the creator of that puzzle was trying to limit the number of solutions. I spot those placements very quickly, now.

My shogi (将棋) puzzle book had 200 tsume (詰). Now with the addition of 200 more tsume (詰) on my website, I have doubled the number of tsume (詰) that I've written to 400. Let's be honest, some are easy. However, I've constructed quite a few that have unique move combinations, and sacrifice situations. So, some of them are great for beginners and some are meant for determined learners or more advanced players.

I've stated it before, and I'll state it again. Life is busy. Some times you don't have time to play a full game of shogi (将棋) , or if you do have time for a lightning game, you don't have time for a deep thoughtful game. That's why I love shogi (将棋) so much. You can pick up a five move tsumeshogi (詰将棋) puzzle, and spend time solving it, and still have time to get to your next meeting or do some shopping.

So, as I've mentioned already, I have hit the 200th tsume (詰) for my website. I've been placing my Japanese chess puzzles in my online database for easy access, and more importantly, for easy searching. Everyone has different levels of skill in shogi (将棋) . Many beginners want to see just one-move puzzles, whereas more skilled players may want to stick to 3-move puzzles or 5-move puzzles. Very skilled players definitely want 7-move and 9-move tsume (詰) to play with. My database allows you to customize a search to the skill level you feel comfortable with.

One of my favorite new features that I just added is that my tsumeshogi (詰将棋) database allows for searching of multiple move counts for Japanese chess puzzles, and then removing the displayed move counts for the solutions. That means that you could, for instance, have a search for puzzles that are one and three-move puzzles, and then not know if the puzzle you are solving is for one or if it is for three moves. This makes solving the tsume (詰) more like a real endgame scenario!

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