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Xiangqi Game Rules [World Xiangqi League]

The objective of xiangqi (Chinese Chess) is to checkmate the King of your opposing army. The xiangqi board is a matrix of 9 columns (vertical lines) and 10 rows (horizontal lines), with a river across the middle of the board. The King of each army is located between his Advisors in spaces marked as the palace.

Relative piece values (strengths) are marked below, however, strong players will usually value position (and rhythm) over absolute piece value.

The single Roman character used for move and game notations is highlighted in the English term below; please see also a longer discussion of xiangqi notation.

The red army (southern territory) moves first.

For more information, you may purchase a book from our online storefront.

Red ArmyBlue ArmyEnglish Term Piece Description
redp
Bing
bluep
Zu
Pawn
foot soldier
Each army has five pawns. A pawn moves one space at a time; forward before the river, and forward or sidewards after the river. Value=1 before the river, 2 after the river.
redc
Pao
bluec
Pao
Cannon Each army has two cannons. A cannon can move horizontally or vertically any number of spaces. Kills by jumping over one piece (of either army) and landing on its victim. Value=5 near begin of game, 4 towards end of game (when there are fewer catapults).
redk
Shuai
bluek
Jiang
King
general
Each army has one king, who can move horizontally or vertically, one space at a time. Must stay within the palace, and must never directly (unobstructed) face the opposing king.
reda
Shi
bluea
Shi
Advisor
guard
Each army has two advisors, placed defensively on either side of the king. An advisor can move diagonally, one space at a time. Must stay within the palace. (Thus it can occupy one of only five spaces.) Value=2
redm
Xiang
bluem
Xiang
Elephant
minister (red)
Each army has two bishops, placed between the knight and the guards. A bishop can move diagonally, exactly two spaces at a time. Can not cross the river. (Thus it can occupy one of only seven spaces.) Value=2
redn
Ma
bluen
Ma
Horse
knight
Each army has two horses, placed between the rooks and the bishops. A horse can move in the shape of an "L"-- horizontally two spaces (the first of which must be unoccupied!), then a horizontal step at a right angle. Value=4
redr
Ju
bluer
Ju
ChaRiot
rook
Each army has two chariots, placed in the corners of the board. A chariot can move horizontally any number of spaces. Value=9

[rule]

Simplified Asian Rules

Here are some additional "Asian Rules" which are often used in tournaments. These have been sent to us by our member oolong.

Our software does not currently enforce any of these rules. At some point we will start to enforce these, particularly to disallow one player from continually chasing the other player back and forth.

Terms involved

Thumb rules

Forbidden moves

Special notes

See also Asian Rules from the Hong Kong Chinese Chess Association, translated by Eric Wu, published on Peter Sung's website.

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