Last night my husband and I played shogi for the first time in a long while.  We did fairly well, although we did have to look up the wiki to double-check all the piece starting positions and movements.  I picked up the board as a gift for Jeremy when I was living in Japan, and we used to spend afternoons playing in the park behind the house.  Breaking the board out again was a pleasant end to our anniversary weekend.

Shogi is a Japanese chess variant, and I prefer it over the European game.  In Shogi, captured pieces are retained “In Hand.”  That is to say instead of being dead once they are taken off the board, your opponent can place captured pieces in their army and use them against you.  I’ve always really liked this mechanic.  It makes me a lot less willing to rush ahead and sacrifice a piece for an attack.  I play more defensively.  Defense is really the name of the game.  Shogi doesn’t have a queen piece, but rather two pairs of generals, gold and silver.  These pieces can move one space in any direction forward, as well as a few other spaces.  Gold generals move one space orthogonally.  Silvers move diagonally.  They basically serve as a set of guards for the king.

The writer in me really likes the thematic elements of shogi.  The defensive game, and the idea that nothing really ends when a piece is cleared of the game board is intriguing to me.  The game is a bit difficult to find in the US, but if you are a fan of chess and other strategy games. you should try and find a set.