Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Tsume: Japanese Chess Mating Puzzles

Tsume shogi, or just tsume for short, are Japanese chess mating puzzles. I just created a browsable tsume shogi database, so I thought it might be a good idea to explain tsume rules, background, and their benefits.

Imagine a situation where you are playing a much more skilled shogi player than yourself. You are losing. Your opponent will place you in checkmate in one move. You are desperate. Your only chance is to check your opponent, and keep him in check until you have a checkmate. Otherwise, you will lose the shogi game.

One-move shogi tsume
This is a one-move tsume of my own creation.
See if you can spot the checkmate.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Big Three Shogi Castles

Shogi castling involves forming a stronghold to protect the king. Most shogi pieces don't move very fast, but as soon as a pieces start getting captured, lightning fast plays involving drops change the pace of the game. Placing your king in a castle allows you to focus on attack.

The most deadly location for a king in shogi is the square it starts on. Dead center means a dead king! Get the king off to a corner and protected, quickly.

Shogi castles keep the rook and king apart. A common tactic of advanced shogi players is setting up a split with the king and rook so that a knight or other piece attacks both the rook and king. Of course, losing the rook in such a split makes winning more of a challenge.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Shogi Arrives in America

The first known game of shogi in America took place in June of 1860 at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia. Japan had recently ended its 250 years of isolation, and sent a mission to the USA to ratify the Treaty of Friendship.

The attire worn to the Athenaeum by the Japanese delegation likely looked
similar to what is worn by these 1860 delegates. It is not known if any of
these delegates where among those visiting the Athenaeum.