Shogi Rules


  • 1 shogiban or shogi board with 81 squares.

Set up

  • Place the board in the centre of the table.
  • Each player receives 20 pieces:
  • 1 king,
  • 1 rook,
  • 1 bishop,
  • 2 gold generals,
  • 2 silver generals,
  • 2 horsemen,
  • 2 spears,
  • 9 pawns.
  • The pawns must always point to the opponent and be placed on the black side.
  • Place the pawns on the third row, followed by the bishop and rook on the second row, and finally the spears, knights, silver generals, gold generals and king on the first row.

  • Decide who goes first.
  • Take turns playing.

How to play?

  • Shogi is played either by moving your pieces or by dropping them.
  • Play with the aim of capturing the opponent’s pieces, ultimately the king.
  • Each player is allowed one action per turn.


  • There are two types of moves:
    • Move one square, indicated by the blue lines.
    • Moving as many squares as desired, indicated by the red lines.
  • The type of move depends on the piece being moved.

Moving one square

Golden General
Silver General

Move as many squares as desired



  • The first three rows on each side of the shogi board are called the promotion area.
  • As soon as a piece goes out, enters or moves into the opponent’s promotion area, it can be promoted.
  • To promote a piece, you must turn it over to the red side.
  • Promoting a piece means allowing it to make additional moves.
  • All pieces can be promoted, except for the king and the golden generals.

Moving a single square

Silver General

Single-square movement and as many squares as desired

  • Blue lines indicate single square moves.
  • The red lines indicate moves to as many squares as desired.
  • Once promoted, the silver general, the knight, the spear and the pawn move like a gold general.
  • A piece remains promoted until it is removed from the board.

Mandatory promotion

  • When the pawn and the spear reach the last row, they must be promoted.
  • When the knight arrives at the last or penultimate line, it must be promoted.


  • It is not allowed to stay two on a square.
  • Any opponent’s piece that is on a square you want to move to must first be captured.
  • Any captured piece is removed from the board and placed on the capturing player’s side.


  • A drop is when a player places a captured piece back on the board and plays it as his own.
  • Dropping a piece counts as an action.
  • You can drop a piece onto any free space on the shogi board under certain conditions:
  • It cannot be dropped while being promoted.
  • It cannot be dropped on a square from which movement would be impossible.
  • To promote a parachuted piece, it must move into the promotion area.
  • The pawn cannot be dropped in front of the king to checkmate.
  • The pawn cannot be dropped on a file that already contains an unpromoted pawn of the same side.

End of the game

  • The game ends when the opponent’s king is captured. 
  • The first to capture the opponent’s king wins the game.