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Bunbunmaru Newspaper

第七十八季 神無月の一

Season 78 (1963), 1st of Kannazuki (October)


New Shogi Discovery?


Discovery of New Pieces from Muenzuka


The discovery of the supposedly never-before-seen shogi[1] pieces in the kappas' possession has become a subject of discussion.


The shogi is widely known to protect the treasure: orb (or jade)[2], gold[3], silver[4], cinnamon branch[5] and incense wood[6] with pawns and two dragons[7] protect. Since using just these pieces means it doesn't take long to decide a winner, the white wolf tengu have adopted "Tengu Grand Shogi" which has a multitude of additional pieces and unique rules made by them.


Great Tengu Shogi adds many treasure pieces, with beasts and youkai protecting (hunting) them. It is common for a single game to take several days.


Pieces which have been currently found include the "general", "lieutenant general", and other such pieces, which supposedly are promoted versions of pawns. There were also pieces like "airplane" and "spy", whose effects are truly unimaginable.[8] There was nothing written on the backs of any of these, which means they can't be promoted.[9]


Momiji Inubashiri, the white wolf tengu who has been active in adding pieces and expanding rules until now, had the following to say.


"I thought that it was only us who were making original rules. I cannot believe my ears to hear that the same kind of things were happening in the outside world as well, it's a bit frustrating."


Though she says that, she is devoted to make more rules for the new pieces.


"I want to see how shogi in the outside world has evolved with my own eyes. There is the possibility that the rules have been simplified, since all of the new pieces which were found couldn't be promoted. In that case, we tengu might have to enjoy something which has become unsatisfactory."


Currently, it is said that the outside world has finished post-war reconstruction and is at the height of rapid economic growth. It is very likely that games which take hours to play have been simplified and can be played easily. If that is the case, then even with regards to shogi, Gensokyo is probably evolving in the complete opposite direction. Although separated by just half of a century, it looks like cultural differences cannot be stopped.

(射命丸 文)

(Aya Shameimaru)


1. ^  Shogi (将棋) is a popular board game in Japan. Its rules are quite similar to the Western board game, chess.
2. ^  Equivalent to the king in chess. Historically, shogi's king was originally the orb (gyokushou, lit. orb general, 玉将) but confused with king (oushou, lit. king general, 王将) later. In Old chinese culture, "orb" () indicated "jade".
3. ^  The "gold general" in today's shogi terms, moves much like a king in chess, except it cannot move diagonally backwards.
4. ^  The "silver general" in today's shogi terms, moves much like a king in chess, except it cannot move directly backwards or to the side. It can, however, move diagonally backwards.
5. ^  桂馬 (keima, lit. cinnamon charriot). The "knight" in today's shogi term, is like a limited version of the knight in chess. It can move in an L-shape, but it may only do so by moving two squares forward and one square to the side. We read "桂 as "katsura" normally, but it is the abbreviated form of 肉桂 — cinnamon, the symbol of a typical fragrance in Ancient Japan.
6. ^  香車 (kyousha, lit. incense wagon). The "lance" in today's shogi terms, is a piece in shogi which can move any number of squares directly in front of it.
7. ^  The two dragons are the equivalent of a single bishop and rook in chess. They are called as "horse chariot" (hisha, lit. "barreling wagon", 飛車) and "ox chariot" (kakugyou, lit. "thorn mover", 角行) at start, but they are turned and promoted as "dragon king" (ryuuou, 竜王) and "dragon horse" (ryuuma, 竜馬).
8. ^  This may be a reference to gunjin shougi (soldier shogi, 軍人将棋). According to a discourse quoted on a Japanese blog entry, this board game is somehow unpopular in spite of its long history, because of its complex rules and requirement for a third player to act as a referee.
9. ^  Unlike chess, shogi pieces can only be promoted to specific pieces.