How to Set Up Your Chinese Chess Board Correctly

Master the art of setting up your Chinese Chess board with our comprehensive guide. From understanding the unique layout of the board to the strategic placement of each piece, we’ve got you covered.

Chinese Chess, also known as Xiangqi, is a game of strategy and wit. It’s not just about knowing how the pieces move, but also about setting up the board correctly. In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of setting up your Chinese Chess board correctly, ensuring you’re ready for a game that’s both challenging and enjoyable.

Understanding the Board Layout

Before we delve into setting up the board, it’s essential to understand its layout. The Chinese Chess board is a grid of 10 lines (ranks) by 9 lines (files), with pieces placed on the intersections, not within the squares as in Western Chess.

For a more detailed look at the board’s layout, check out our article on Understanding the Layout of the Chinese Chess Board.

Setting Up the Pieces

Now, let’s get to setting up the pieces. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Step 1 – Generals (Kings): Place the Generals on the central point within the palace (a 3×3 grid) on each side of the board.

Place the Generals on the central point within the palace

Step 2 – Guards (Advisors): Place the Guards on either side of the General, still within the palace.

Place the Guards on either side of the General

Step 3 – Elephants (Bishops): Place the Elephants two points diagonally from the General, next to the Guards

Place the Elephants two points from the General

Step 4 – Horses (Knights): Place the Horses adjacent to the Elephants.

Place the Horses adjacent to the Elephants

Step 5 – Chariots (Rooks): Place the Chariots on the points at the corners of the board.

Place the Chariots on the points at the corners of the board

For the last two steps, there are usually some form of indicators on the Chinese chessboard as to where to place the Cannons and Pawns

Step 6 – Cannons: Place the Cannons on the points directly in front of the Horses, but with one empty point between them.

Place the Cannons on the points directly in front of the Horses

Step 7 – Soldiers (Pawns): Place the Soldiers on every other point along the rank closest to the opposing side.

Place the Soldiers on every other point along the rank

Wrapping Up

Setting up your Chinese Chess board correctly is the first step towards mastering this ancient game of strategy. Remember, every piece has its place, and understanding the layout is key to a successful setup. Now, you’re ready to dive into the fascinating world of Chinese Chess. Happy playing!


Remember, practice makes perfect. So, set up your board, challenge a friend, and let the game of minds begin!

Author Photo

Hello there, I'm Tony Nguyen, a Chinese Chess enthusiast who has been engrossed in the intricate world of Xiangqi since I was 11 years old. Over the years, my fascination with the game evolved into a deep-seated passion that led me to study its diverse strategies, profound intricacies, and captivating history. In 2018, I channelled this passion into creating ChineseChessHub.com, a dedicated platform to share knowledge, resources, and strategies with fellow Xiangqi enthusiasts. My aim is to provide a shared space where newcomers and veterans alike can learn, discuss, and immerse themselves in the mesmerising world of Chinese Chess.

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