Understanding the Movement of Each Piece in Chinese Chess

Each piece on the chinese chess board has its unique movement pattern, understanding which is crucial for mastering the game. In this article, we’ll delve into the movement of each piece in Chinese Chess.

Chinese Chess, also known as Xiangqi, is a game of strategy and wit. Each piece on the board has its unique movement pattern, understanding which is crucial for mastering the game. In this article, we’ll delve into the movement of each piece in Chinese Chess.

PieceMovement
GeneralMoves and captures one point orthogonally; cannot leave the palace
AdvisorMoves and captures one point diagonally; cannot leave the palace
ElephantMoves and captures exactly two points diagonally; cannot jump over intervening pieces; cannot cross the river
HorseMoves and captures one point orthogonally and then one point diagonally away; can be blocked by a piece of either color located one point horizontally or vertically adjacent
ChariotMoves and captures any distance orthogonally; cannot jump over intervening pieces
CannonMoves like chariots, any distance orthogonally without jumping; can only capture by jumping a single piece of either color along the path of attack
SoldierMoves and captures by advancing one point; once they have crossed the river, they may also move and capture one point horizontally; cannot move backward

The Role and Movement of the General

General’s Movement

The General is the most important piece in Chinese Chess. It moves and captures one point orthogonally and is confined to the palace. The General’s movement might seem limited, but its strategic position can influence the entire game.

Though mostly defensive, the general is sometimes combined with the chariot to attack the enemy’s general. This tactic would be covered in another lesson.

Understanding the Advisors’ Movements

Advisors serve to protect the General. They move and capture one point diagonally and are also confined to the palace. Their role is crucial in leveraging piece movement for advantage in Chinese Chess.

Advisor/Guard’s Movement

“The Advisors’ role is to shield the General, making them the unsung heroes of your strategy.” – Anonymous

The Unique Movement of the Elephant

Elephants in Chinese Chess have a unique movement. They move and capture exactly two points diagonally and cannot jump over intervening pieces. Moreover, Elephants cannot cross the river, limiting their movement to the player’s half of the board.

Elephant’s movement

The Agility of the Horse

Horses in Chinese Chess are agile pieces. They move and capture one point orthogonally and then one point diagonally away from their former position. Unlike the Knight in Western Chess, the Horse does not jump and can be blocked by a piece of either color located one point horizontally or vertically adjacent.

Horse’s Movement

As you can see in the picture above, the red horse can move to 6 out of 8 points within its L-shape distance. Note the red horse cannot capture the black canon in the top right due to the blockage by the black soldier.

Note: Horses can be blocked by both our and enemies’ pieces. So try to avoid blocking your own horse when you play.

The Power of the Chariot

Chariots are the most powerful pieces in Chinese Chess. They move and capture any distance orthogonally and cannot jump over intervening pieces. A well-positioned Chariot can control the game board.

Chariot’s Movement

The Unpredictability of the Cannon

Cannons add a unique twist to the game. They move like Chariots, any distance orthogonally without jumping, but they capture by jumping a single piece of either color along the path of attack. This unique movement pattern makes Cannons unpredictable and dangerous.

Canon’s movement

Generally speaking, cannons have the same mobility as chariots when it comes to moving, but their capturability is limited. Hence, a canon is often considered to be less powerful than a chariot, but more mobile than a horse.

Note: Cannons can jump over both our and enemies’ pieces.

The Soldier’s Bravery

Soldiers are the backbone of your army. They move and capture by advancing one point. Once they have crossed the river, they may also move and capture one point horizontally. However, Soldiers cannot move backward, symbolizing their unyielding bravery.

Soldier’s movement before and after passing the river

Conclusion

Understanding the movement of each piece in Chinese Chess is the first step towards mastering the game. It’s fascinating to see how each piece, with its unique movement, contributes to the overall strategy. For more insights, check out the differences in piece movement between Chinese and Western Chess.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet of all pieces’ movement in Chinese Chess

Cheat Sheet: Understanding the Movement of Each Piece in Chinese Chess

As you embark on your journey to master Chinese Chess, remember that every grandmaster was once a beginner. Keep practicing, stay patient, and you’ll see your game improve over time. Best of luck!

Image Attribution: https://www.wikihow.com/Play-Chinese-Chess, under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

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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