On hold!

Aug 27 2015

It is with sadness that I must announce that we will be shutting down Seattle Xiangqi's monthly meetings for now. Hopefully if there's enough interest in the future, we can start it up again!

New year, new schedule!

Jan 6 2015

Happy New Year, everybody! We're trying out something new this year, and will be moving our regular Xiangqi night to the THIRD Monday of the month. Make sure and mark your calendars. We'll see you all for chess soon!

October meeting

Sep 23 2014

Xiangqi Header

Hey everybody! We're switching locations again! For the past couple meetings, we've been at Cafe on the Ave. And while they've been wonderful hosts, school's starting up at UW and the cafe tends to get pretty full on a Monday evening.

So for now, we'll be meeting at Trabant Coffee. Any updates will be posted here and on the usual Facebook event page.

Hope to see you all soon for some awesome xiangqi games!

Relative values of pieces

Sep 9 2014

Xiangqi Header

In xiangqi, there are often situations in which one's opponent may offer up pieces for a trade. Without knowing the relative value of one's pieces, it can be difficult to tell whether or not a trade is worth it. A system of relative values of the different pieces can be useful in calculating the value of a trade. The system presented below is only for rough estimates, and does not take into account positional advantages gained. Sometimes it is worth it to trade away pieces that are valuable intrinsically in order to gain a stronger position. Note that other educational sources on xiangqi may provide slightly different point values for the pieces, but the approximate relative values should remain the same.

Relative values of pieces
Red Black Points
1 or 2

At the top of the list is the chariot, easily the most valuable piece on the board, worth 9 points.

Next are the horse and cannons, at 4 points each. One should note that cannons are slightly more valuable in the early game, because there are more pieces to jump over to capture, as compared to the late game. In contrast, horses are slightly more valuable in the late game, because there are fewer pieces to restrict its movement.

Elephants and advisers are both worth 2 points each.

Pawns are a special case. They are worth 1 point each before they cross the river, but are worth 2 points after they cross the river because of their additional ability to move laterally.

WXF Notation Compliance

Sep 2 2014

It has been brought to my attention that the notation I've been using does not match the standard notation used by the World Xiangqi Federation. Since there's a standard, I thought I'd update things to be more in line with the WXF. Here are the changes I've made:

  1. Generals are now marked with a "k" for King.
  2. Horizontal movement of a piece is now marked with "." as opposed to "=".
  3. Pieces that are on the same file are now identified with a "+" or "-" for instead of "f" or "b". Formerly, I would use "fc" to refer to the cannon further away from the player. WXF notation uses "c+" instead.

I've retroactively updated the notation post to reflect these changes. Please read there for more detailed examples.

Thanks to Sebastian Pipping for bringing this to my attention!

Double Cannon

Jul 22 2014

The double cannon (双炮) checkmate position does not come up too often in games, but is still important to learn, as it can be used in conjunction with other pieces to secure a checkmate.

The diagram below demonstrates the how powerful the double cannon can be. The circled cannon places black's general in check. Neither of black's elephants, nor black's advisers can prevent check, as placing them between the general and the two cannons would cause the other uncircled cannon to threaten black's general.

This second diagram below demonstrates how a beginning player can end up being checkmated by double cannons if he or she is not careful.

The above game is a bit like the Scholar's Mate in international chess, where checkmate is easily preventable. This last diagram below demonstrates how:

July Meeting

Jul 13 2014

Xiangqi Header

Hey everybody! This month's meeting's location has CHANGED! Instead of the usual Sit Sip Study Cafe, we will instead be meeting at Cafe on the Ave, at 4201 University Way NE, Seattle, Washington 98105. Check out the Facebook event page and let us know if you're planning on joining us. Hope to see you all there!

Horse-Cannon Checkmate

Jun 18 2014

One of the most common checkmates in xiangqi is the horse-cannon checkmate (马后炮). In this checkmate, the cannon uses a horse as a mount (炮架) to place the opponent's general in check. The horse also controls the opposing general's only exits, resulting in a checkmate. The diagram below is an example (albeit contrived) of this checkmate. The highlighted circles mark the general's only exits from the cannon's check, which are controlled by red's horse.

This second diagram is another example of the horse-cannon checkmate. Step through the moves to see the checkmate in action.

Xiangqi Notation

May 26 2014

Edit: Updated Sept 1, 2014 to match WXF notation.

When learning Xiangqi, it is often quite useful to be able to notate games. In addition to being able to take notes and analyze past games, there are many books of annotated games. Most of these books are written in Chinese, but there are some online resources in English, such as XQ in English.

Games are most commonly notated in Chinese, but I will introduce a variant more easily used by Western players here.

A move in Xiangqi notation is expressed in 4 characters. The first two identify the piece to be moved, and the second two specify where the piece moves.

Identifying the right piece

In most cases, the piece is identified by its type (for example: pawn, elephant, cannon), and its file, the vertical line that its sitting on.

Each piece's type can be represented with a single letter. There are a couple slightly different systems in use, but I will be using the following:

Code English Red Black
r chaRiot
h Horse
e Elephant
a Adviser
k General
p Pawn
c Cannon

Files are numbered from 1 to 9, right to left, from the perspective of the given player. For example, the chariot (俥) in the diagram below is "r7", since it is on the 7th file counting from the right, from red's perspective. The elephant, on the other hand is "e3", since it is on the 3rd file from the right, from black's perspective.

Occasionally, there will be two pieces of the same type on the same file, like the two cannons in the above diagram. In these cases, the piece further from the player is denoted "c+", and the piece closer to the player is "c-" for "back cannon". So the highlighted cannon on the board is "c+", since it is further from the black player's perspective, and the unhighlighted black cannon is "c-". Conversely, the highlighted horse is "h+", since it is further from red's perspective, and the unhighlighted horse is "h-".

Moving the piece

Where to move a piece is specified by the third and fourth characters in each move's notation. The third character specifies the direction in which the piece moves, and the fourth character specifies its destination. Xiangqi pieces can be categorized into those that move orthogonally (either horizontally or vertically), and those that don't. We'll go through the orthogonal movers first.

Orthogonal movers

Pawns, cannons, chariots and generals move orthogonally. When the direction for an orthogonally moving piece is + or -, the piece moves forward or backward (according to the player's perspective) n number of steps, where n is the destination. When the direction for an orthogonally moving piece is ., the destination number specifies the file the piece is to end up on. Step through the following diagram for a couple examples.

Non-orthogonal movers

Pieces such as the horse, elephant and adviser do not move orthogonally, and therefore never have a move specified with .; all their moves are + or -. For these pieces, the destination is always the file the piece ends up on. Step through the following diagram for a couple examples of non-orthogonal pieces.


May 26 2014

Welcome to the newly refreshed Seattle Xiangqi website! We're really excited about the redesign and will be posting content on chess strategy soon. Check back soon and hope to see you at the next meeting!

Also, don't forget to join our Facebook group!