Thursday, February 18, 2010

Book Burning

For anyone frustrated with the book knowledge needed to correctly navigate the Shogi opening game there are several Shogi variants that can help. The best way to start learning Shogi is in small pieces. There are several smaller variants of the game that give you a chance to start learning how a few of the pieces move, capture, promote, and drop without being overwhelmed by the larger opening and midgame strategy. Both of these variants below are played with 4-5 pieces on a board so small that you are immediately thrown into an exciting endgame battle.

Dōbutsu shōgi (or animal chess) is a simplified version of Shogi developed to help teach small children. The core concept are the same as Shogi but it uses cute iconic animals to represent the pieces and has icons on each piece that show how they move.

Mini Shogi (5x5 Shogi) is another small variant that accomplishes the same thing but still uses the traditional Koma or Kanji based playing pieces. This has a slightly higher learning curve because you must memorize how the six pieces move but it also helps better prepare the student for a traditional game of Shogi because the pieces you are learning are the same as in the full game.

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