Illustration for article titled Beautiful world of Shogi (Part IV): Drops, general rulesem/em

Welcome back for another lesson about Shogi. Last time we learned how the board is set and how to promote units. Now we will add the concept of drops, some general rules and summarize everything so you’ll be able to start playing.



This concept is a major difference from western chess. On your turn you have two possible options, what you can do. You can either move piece you already have on board or you can drop (put on board) any of your captured pieces. This is the reason why player’s pieces are not distinguished by colour but only by their orientation. If you comply with following four simple rules, you can drop piece almost anywhere you want.

  • Dropped piece must be unpromoted.
  • Piece cannot be dropped on position, where it wouldn’t have any possible move (for example lance or pawn into last rank, or knight into last two ranks).
  • You cannot drop pawn in the same column (file) you already have pawn in (if you have promoted pawn in the file, it’s valid to drop pawn in that column).
  • You cannot achieve checkmate by dropping a pawn.

General rules and summary

I already mentioned it in the drop rules, but the winning condition of the game is to checkmate enemy king. It means that you’re threatening enemy king (he’s in check) and in the same time there is no way to remove the threat - either by moving away, capture unit, block unit or drop unit into the threat. Now with this you should have all information to play, but as they say - “repetition is the mother of all learning”, so let me summarize all necessary information in one place.

  • You win by checkmate.
  • On your turn you can either move a piece you already have on board or drop a piece you captured earlier.
  • If you reach, move within or move out of last three ranks (enemy camp / your promotion area) with your piece you can promote your unit.
  • Pieces description and movements are in the Part II of this series.
  • Promoted units movements and board setup are in the Part III of this series.
  • Rules for dropping units are above in this part of this series.

Where to play and tsume

As I started writing this part of the series, I realized, it will be just way too short, so I’ve decided to add a bonus section. Now that you know how to play the game I don’t expect you to run into nearest japanese store or amazon to order a board, so you can explain everything to your friends and start playing, so you’ll need to know, where you can actually try the game and decide if it’s worth to get a board.


The best site (to my knowledge) where to play online with players of various levels is 81dojo ( If I’m in the mood to play and all my friends are busy with their life, I’m playing there. You can find me there under the same username as here - Stinolez so if you’ll see me online, drop me a note and I’ll gladly accept your game.

If you want just to play around with the pieces without going in actual game, you can try Shogi Playground ( - it allows you to move pieces, create your own situations or problems to solve.


Speaking of problems to solve - in western chess you have mate problems. In shogi these problems are called tsume. There are several pages on the internet to visit and practice, but most of them are in japanese. For example this sice: has over 8000 tsume problems, but I found it hard to navigate and use. Other sites might be or One of the main problems I see in these site is that all the boards are not interactive. You have to solve it in your mind and then press the button to see, if you solved it correctly. Probably the best way how to use these sites are with combination with the Shogi Playground I mentioned above. You can enter edit mode there, set the board as shown in the tsume problem and then play with it. Probably the best way to practice these situations is an app for your phone - Shogi Quest Plus. You can find this application in either Google Play or App Store. It has few problems every day for you to try with ranging difficulty from beginner to masterpiece. It also includes tesuji problems which are about finding great position to drop or move your piece.

Now this out of the way, I hope I motivated somebody to try this beautiful game. Although this is the end of the this series, I think I’ll visit it in future, as there are dozens great things to talk about - from opening moves, castles to shogi notation so you can read and follow professional shogi matches. See ya in future...


You’re reading AniTAY, the anime-focused portion of Kotaku’s community-run blog, Talk Amongst Yourselves. AniTAY is a non-professional blog whose writers love everything anime related. Click here to check us out. This article was brought to you by Stinolez - gamer, anime lover & so-called writer. Check my other stuff here or follow me on Twitter.

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