Chinese Chess

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Xiangqi board, with pieces in their starting positions [1]

Chinese Chess, or Xiangqi 象棋 [2],
is a chess variant which is very popular in east Asia, specially in China and Vietnam. The Chinese Chess set includes a board and 32 pieces for two players. The board has ten horizontal lines called ranks and nine vertical lines called files. In the middle of the board the central seven files are interrupted by a horizontal space called the “River”, which splits the board into two parts. Each side of the board has a “Palace” a 3x3 area in the central base. The seven kind of pieces are placed on the intersections and move and capture according to their individual ability and restriction along the lines including the “River banks”. The two sides are usually distinguished by color, being red or black [3] .

Basically the rules are similar to chess. The object of the game is to checkmate or stalemate (is a win as well) the opponent King aka General. However, partly due to the freedom and power of the Rook over other pieces, and the limited freedom of the King, it is forbidden to repeat perpetually a direct thread (i.e. perpetual check 長將, perpetual thread of capture 長捉, a check and then a threat of mate 一將一殺, or a combination of these). This needs to be taken into account in the board representation.


Pieces on the red side bear different characters than their counterparts on the black side. They are the same pieces, but names on the Red side are subtly more noble than those on the Black side [4].

Images Name Notation [5] Value [6] Movement Restriction
Xiangqi General (Trad).svg
帥、將 King
K moves and captures
one orthogonal step
may not leave the palace
The two kings may not face
each other along the same file
with no intervening piece
Xiangqi Advisor (Trad).svg
仕, 士 Advisor


A 2 moves and captures
one diagonal step
may not leave the palace
Xiangqi Elephant (Trad).svg
相、象 Elephant E 2 moves and captures
two diagonal points
may not jump over intervening
pieces,may not cross the river
Xiangqi Horse (Trad).svg
傌, 馬 Horse H 4 moves and captures
one orthogonal step
plus one diagonal step
blocked by orthogonal adjacent
Xiangqi Chariot (Trad).svg
俥, 車 Rook
R 9 moves and captures
any distance orthogonally
may not jump over intervening
Xiangqi Cannon (Trad).svg
炮, 炮 Cannon C moves any distance orthogonally - captures by jumping a
single piece, friend or foe, in-between the orthogonal path
of attack towards the captured piece
Xiangqi Soldier (Trad).svg
兵、卒 Pawn
moves and captures one step forward -
once crossed the river, also one point sideways

Chinese Chess Notations

Chinese Chess Programming

Xiangqi Variants

Xiangqi Engines

Computer Olympiads



Xiangqi winners in Graz 2003, Pascal Tang, Zhi-Jian Tu and Shun-Chin Hsu [7]


Xiangqi winners Taipei 2005 with TD Jaap van den Herik and representative of the sponsor Acer Inc.,
Mingyang Zhao (Gold), Ming-Cheng Cheng (Silver) and Jiao Wang (Bronze) [8]


Yokohama 2013, Wen-Jie Tseng, Shi-Jim Yen, Harm Geert Muller and Jaap van den Herik [9]


1981 ...

  • Y.T. Zhang (1981). Application of Artificial Intelligence in Computer Chinese Chess. M.Sc. thesis, Department of Electrical Engineering, National Taiwan University (Chinese)
  • Shun-Chin Hsu, D.H. Huang (1985). Design and Implementation of a Chinese Chess Knowledge Base. Proceedings of NCS, pp. 505-509. (Chinese)
  • Robert Nisonoff, M. Stephanie Ricks (1988). To Catch a King: East Meets West in the Game of Chess. PC Magazine, October 31, 1988, pp. 506 » EGA Chess, Xian
  • Nick Jacobs (1989). Xian, a Chinese Chess Program. Heuristic Programming in AI 1

1990 ...

2000 ...




2005 ...





2010 ...




2015 ...

Forum Posts


2000 ...

Re: Tony Marsland and Chinese Chess in Maastricht (slightly O.T.) by Pham Hong Nguyen, CCC, July 30, 2002

2010 ...

2015 ...

External Links

Chinese Chess

Computer Chinese Chess

WinBoard and XiangQi by Harm Geert Muller

Xiangqi Cloud Database


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