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Chinese Chess (Xiangqi)
With 100 million players, Chinese Chess (CC) might be the most popular board game in the world. It is estimated to be over 1500 years old. Some of its pieces are similar to those of Western chess, and some, like the Cannon, are very different.


  • read: Object of Chinese Chess
  • read: Game Board
  • read: Game Play
  • read: King
  • read: King’s Special Rule
  • read: Adviser
  • read: Elephant
  • read: Pawn
  • read: Horse
  • read: Cannon
  • read: Chariot
  • read: How to start Chinese Chess games on ItsYourTurn.com
  • read: How to Make Your Move in Chinese Chess on ItsYourTurn.com
  • read: Limit on Perpetual Check
  • read: Limit on Perpetual Chasing
  • read: How can I get better at Chinese Chess?



Object of Chinese Chess Win by positioning your pieces so that on your next move, you would be certain to capture your opponent’s King. This is called 'checkmate' in Western Chess. You also win by stalemate, which is when your opponent has no available moves. This is a difference from Western chess, where a stalemate is a draw.

Chinese Chess ends in a draw when both players have only Elephants and Advisers (see below) in addition to their Kings.
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Game Board


Chinese Chess pieces occupy points on the board where the lines cross. The regions containing diagonal lines are called the palaces. Each palace has 9 points. The strip in the middle with no vertical lines, called the river, separates the players’ home territories
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Game Play On each turn, a player moves one piece according to the rules described below. Red has the first move. Some pieces are similar to those of Western chess, and some are very different. Some pieces are confined to certain areas of the board. Usually you can capture an enemy piece by landing on it, but the Cannon (see below) can only capture in a special way.
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King


The King can only move 1 point horizontally or vertically, not diagonally. He must remain on one of the points of his palace. He can not move out of the palace. In the picture below, the blue King is in the center of his palace. He can move to the points with the blue dots.



This red King is on the edge of his palace. He can only move to the red dots.



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King’s Special Rule The two Kings can never stand on the same vertical line without at least one other piece standing between them. This means that neither King can make a move that would put them into this situation; and, if the Kings are on the same line but only one piece stands between them, then this obstructing piece can not be moved off the line.

In this picture, the blue Horse, which is similar to the Knight of Western chess, would like to capture the red Chariot. But it can not, because doing so would leave the Kings on the same unobstructed vertical line.



In the next picture, the red Chariot has put the blue King in checkmate. The blue King can not move to the space marked with the blue X, because doing so would put it on an unobstructed vertical line with the red King.


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Adviser


The Adviser also must stay on the palace points. He can only move one point diagonally. In this picture, two blue Advisers are shown with the blue King in the palace. The upper adviser can move in three diagonal directions a distance of one point. The lower adviser has no moves.


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Elephant


The Elephant must remain in its home territory. It can not cross the river. It can only move two points diagonally. It can not move just one point, and its path must be unobstructed. If any piece, friend or enemy, occupies an adjacent point diagonally, its movement in that direction is blocked. This is known as 'stuffing the Elephant’s eye.'

In the picture below, a red Elephant is shown circled in red. It can only move to the places with the red dots. It can not move to either of the points with red X's because its paths to these points are blocked by other pieces. It can not capture the adjacent blue Horse because the Elephant must move a distance of two points.

The blue Elephant, circled in blue, can move to either of the blue dots. One of the blue dots is on top of a red Pawn which the blue Elephant can capture. The blue Elephant can not move forward because it can not cross the river.


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Pawn


When in its home territory, the Pawn can only move forward a distance of one point. After it crosses the river to enemy territory, it can move forward or horizontally one point. It can never move backward. Unlike the Pawn of Western Chess, the Chinese Pawn can capture an enemy piece with these same moves. There is not a different move to capture. When a pawn reaches the opposite end of the board, it can only move horizontally along that edge. There is no pawn promotion in Chinese Chess.

In this picture, five blue Pawns are shown with their available moves. One of them can capture a red Pawn.


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Horse


The Horse's movement is similar to the Knight's in Western chess. First, it moves one point horizontally or vertically to an unoccupied space. From there, it moves one point on either diagonal in roughly the same direction. Unlike the Knight, the Horse can not jump over other pieces. If its first step is blocked by a friend or enemy piece, it can not move in that direction at all.

Here, a blue horse is shown with its available moves. It can not move to the blue X's because its movement in that direction is blocked. It can capture the red Pawn, but it can not capture the red Cannon which is blocking its movement.


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Cannon


When using the Cannon, a player may either move or capture, but not do both.

Moving: The Cannon travels any distance vertically or horizontally along an unobstructed path, but it can not capture another piece and it can not jump over pieces.



Capturing: The Cannon can capture an enemy piece if the enemy lies on the same horizontal or vertical line as the Cannon and there is one other piece, friend or enemy, between it and the Cannon. The Cannon jumps to the point occupied by the piece it is capturing.

In the picture, the blue Cannon is circled in blue. It can capture only the pieces indicated by the blue arrows.


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Chariot


The Chariot can move any distance vertically or horizontally along an unobstructed path. It is exaclty like the Rook of Western Chess.

In the picture, the blue Chariot has the following moves. It can capture the red Horse, as shown.


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How to start Chinese Chess games on ItsYourTurn.com To learn how to start a game of Chinese Chess, go to our help menu and select How to Start a Game or How to Join a Game.

When you and an opponent are in a game, the game is listed on your game status page. Click your opponent's name to view the game board. Red has the first move. See the next question to learn how to make a move.
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How to Make Your Move in Chinese Chess on ItsYourTurn.com After you and an opponent are in a game of Chinese Chess (see How to Start a Game or How to Join a Game on our help menu) you may go to it any time by clicking your opponent's name as it appears on your game status page.

If it is your turn, when you see the game board a blue outline will be around the piece that was placed in your opponent's last move. To make your move, click a piece that you want to move. A new page will appear showing a red outline around this piece. Then, click the point you want to move to. A new page will appear showing the new piece on the board.

Then, you must click one of the 'Submit' buttons at the bottom of the page to submit your move. If you don't want to submit it and you want to make a different move, you may click 'Take back the move.'
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Limit on Perpetual Check One player may not put the other player in check four turns in a row by moving the same piece each turn.

In other words, if player A has put player B in check three times in a row by moving the same piece, then on the fourth move player A must not put player B's King in check by moving that piece. If there are no other pieces that can be moved, then player A has no available moves. This stalemate situation counts as a loss for player A in Chinese Chess.
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Limit on Perpetual Chasing In Chinese Chess, one piece is prevented from chasing another in certain repeated moves by this rule:

Supose red piece R moves to a position so that on its next move it could capture blue piece B. B is on an unprotected point, where 'unprotected' means that if R were to capture B on that point, no other blue piece could capture R.

To avoid capture, B moves to another unprotected point. On the very next move, R moves so that it threatens B again. If B now moves back to its first position, R may not move to its own first position to continue chasing B.

This rule is not in effect if either position occupied by B is protected. This means that if R were to capture B in either of B's two positions, and R could then be captured in the next move, then R can chase B continually in this manner.

If R uses a third position in which to chase B and does not only move back and forth between two different points, then R also may continually chase B.

Finally, if B flees to a third point, then R may continue to chase B.
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How can I get better at Chinese Chess? Playing regularly will improve your Chinese Chess. You may also want to buy a book about Chinese Chess and study it. Browse our selection of popular Chinese Chess books, available from Amazon.com.
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