Shogi is a Japanese game that resembles chess. The two players take turns moving the pieces. The aim is to try to checkmate the opponent’s king with an overwhelming attack. But unlike chess, players can re-use the pieces they take from opponents as their own and can promote the rank of their pieces.
Shogi flourished during medieval times, spread from the warrior class to the townspeople at the beginning of the Edo period, and continues to be enjoyed by many people today.
Shogi is known to have been played and is recorded in literature dating from the 11th century. It is supposed to have originated in ancient India, and evolved from a game called chaturanga. The game spread west to become chess in Europe and the U.S., and north to become xiangqi in China, and finally reached Japan via Southeast Asia.
Contests between professional shogi players are televised and watched by shogi fans on TV and dedicated players commit themselves towards acquiring the seven major shogi titles-Ryuo, Meijin, Kisei, Oi, Oza, Kio, and Osho. The Japan Shogi Association places great store on training professional shogi players, and works towards increasing the number of shogi fans through competitions such as the All-Japan Amateur Shogi Tournament and the Amateur Ryuo-sen.
Shogi, which has a special characteristic in that the pieces can be reused after they are captured, is spreading not only in Japan but also overseas among fans of similar games such as chess and xiangqi, and the number of shogi fans and associations abroad is steadily increasing.
To understand the benefits of Shogi read the Kyodo News article posted below.
Shogi enjoyed by more kids, used in education
Kyodo News –
When children playing the traditional game of shogi, a kind of Japanese chess, are pondering their next move, they are also learning common courtesy, the power of concentration and courage.
The number of children taking part in shogi tournaments in various parts of the country is on a steady rise and a “children’s school” sponsored y the Japan Shogi Asociation is booming, with more applicants than can be accommodated. Shogi is also being used as an importantn educational tool in some primary schools.
On June 14, the JT Shogi Japan Series opened at Toki Messe convention center in Niigata with 12 top players competing. The series is an official tournament for professional players, but a tournament for primary school students was also held with 185 children taking part.
Shogi tournaments for children were held in Tokyo, Osaka and nine other cities nationwide last year, attracting 5,324 players, about 700 more than the year before. This year, tournaments for professional players and children are being held at all 11 cities.
The simultaneous holding of the two tournaments is aimed at enabling children to enjoy a whole day of “seeing” and “playing” shogi to improve their knowledge of the spirit of the game.
Children who play shogi in the proper manner acquire the habit of continuous thinking.
Takayuki Ajimine, 45, a school education adviser at the shogi association and a teacher at Tokyo’s Gyosei Elementary School, is proposing the introduction of shogi to classrooms so that children can acquire greater power of concentration and good manners.
Ajimine remembers a day in November 2005 when he taught shogi at the school’s shogi club. Yoshiharu Habu, who became a permanent master on June 17, this year, visited the school without prior notice and began playing the game with some students.
As if he were playing a tough rival, Habu did not smile while playing shogi with each of the students, and seemingly taught them the importance of concentration without uttering a word.
Ajimine emphasizes that it is also important to learn to say, “I was beaten.” No apology should be made in playing the game, and players themselves are solely responsible for every move they make, he says.
MEXT policy on culture in education including shogi education.
Online downloadable Shogi game – made easier for English players link