Nobody The Turnaround Chinese Chess Guide (Xiangqi, 135¥ a day)

Nobody The Turnaround Chinese Chess Guide

Interested in getting 135¥ a day and mood buffs for only 45 min but don’t know how to play Xiangqi? This is the guide for you.

I will show you how to move the pieces and the solutions for the puzzles.

Basic Rules

If you already know the rules, you can skip ahead to the puzzle solutions.
解法在下

Xiangqi or Chinese Chess has deceptively many similarities with chess. However, the subtle differences make the transition confusing. It is mathematically more complex than standard chess and has more unit types, which have more limitations. This forces the player to calculate much deeper, as you will see with some of the puzzles.

What is confusing is that the same unit types have different names depending on which side/colour they are. Also, the units are placed not on the squares, but on the intersection lines. That’s why I will use the clumsy “length” instead of “square”.

  1. King
    King or general. Can only move one length along the horizontal and vertical grid and only in the 3×3 square in the middle.
    If the enemy king captured, you win the game.
    (In this game you can and must capture the king, but normally, like in chess, the game ends with a checkmate.)
    There is a special rule not found in chess. Even though the king is confined in the palace and can only move one length, it has a long-range effect: the kings cannot be allowed to see each other. The must always be a unit between their line of vision. This rule allows the king to play a crucial role in attacks.
  2. Advisor
    The advisors also stay in the 3×3 “palace”.
    They can move one length along the diagonal lines.
    If we want to borrow the scoring system from chess, the advisor is worth 2 pawns.
  3. Bishop/Elephant
    The bishops also only move diagonally with many limitations however.
    They cannot cross the horizontal squares in the middle (the river), they can only move exactly 2 diagonal lengths, and if any unit blocks their path, they not only can’t capture it, the bishops can’t move in that direction / jump over it. Also only worth 2 pawns.
  4. Knight/Horse
    They move like in chess in an L-shape (not J-shape!), but with a huge limitation.
    Like with the bishops they can’t jump over other pieces if their movement path, the first point along the grid, is blocked. 4 pawns.
  5. Cannon
    A very special unit: It can move along the horizontal and vertical lines like a rook, but can only capture an enemy unit, if there is exactly one unit between them. It then jumps over the unit in the middle and captures the enemy. It is the only unit that can jump over another one. When it jumps, it has to capture an enemy! It cannot capture a friendly unit or jump to an empty intersection. 4.5 pawns
  6. Rook/Chariot
    Moves exactly the same as in chess, along the horizontal and vertical lines.
    Because of the long-range effectiveness, it is the most valuable unit and is worth 9 pawns.
  7. Pawn/Soldier
    There is no fantasy in Chinese chess – a pawn stays a pawn and cannot promote. The pawn can only move forward one length and captures like it moves – unlike in chess no diagonal captures. It also cannot retreat.
    However, when it crosses the river, it get’s upgraded and can also move sideways. A pawn on your side of the river is worth 1 pawn, but after the river crossing 2!

Additional rules

  • The stalemated party loses. No draw!
  • Normally, there is no three-times repetition allowed, but in this game version, it means you lose (because the computer can play forever).

After the old man leaves, you can play a standard game. I am not going to give you any tips for regular play in this guide. Although the AI is not great (sometimes exchanging cannons for horses willy nilly) the complexity will still overwhelm a new player. I would recommend playing the puzzles first and recognize some mating patterns. See solutions below. Have fun!

Tactics Solutions

Apologies for the bad gif quality, 2MB file limit…
I still recommend you to learn the basics of the game because the AI does have alternative moves. I can’t show you all the variations. The solutions should still give you the winning ideas in this case, but you have to convert it yourself.

I have encountered 36 puzzles so far, please notify me if I missed any.

I will order the puzzles by the number of pieces in the top rank / row in the starting position.Because of the moving gifs, you might find it easier to find the position by recognizing the patterns on your side of the board (e.g. around the red king) since the pieces there don’t usually move that much.

1 Piece in the top rank

  1. Nice mate with cannons
  2. Rook swings around
  3. If the king doesn’t take the pawn you can mate with the horse
  4. Unsolvable puzzle. You have to blunder and then the AI blunders back, but harder
  5. Quiet rook moves (AI does not choose the best defense)
  6. It could have made it tougher. If the king moves down instead of left, check with your second horse and bring your rook in.
  7. If the king takes the pawn, check with your cannon, continue checking by shuffling around your advisors to top left and middle so that the bottom left of the palace is open. Then push with your pawn and mate with the cannon.

2 Pieces in the top rank

  1. Another weird AI behaviour. If it takes the pawn, check with your rook, it gets taken by the cannon, check with your cannon, its cannon moves away, move your pawn to the left to check, its cannon interposes, then move up your pawn to mate.
  2. I think the position is actually drawn, but the AI ♥♥♥♥♥ up here
  3. Black could have resisted much better, but too long a variation to elaborate
  4. Rook sac into horse-cannon mate
  5. The Great Horse Race
  6. AI ignores a better defense
  7. King Chase
  8. Horse-Cannon mate

3 Pieces in the top rank

  1. Craziest horses ever
  2. Another pony show
  3. If black takes the rook with the other advisor, check with the rook, capture the blocking advisor and then do a double cannon mate.
  4. If Black takes the pawn, move your rook to your back rank to obstruct their cannon so you can mate with your cannons
  5. Ring Around the Rosie
  6. If the black king moves up, see next item
  7. Second variation of the above puzzle, I could have mated faster at the end…
  8. More diligent horses
  9. Decoy horse
  10. Black could have prolonged by not taking the rook
  11. Smothered
  12. There is a much cooler continuation if the AI plays correctly. There you have to bring your horse all the way back to your back rank to free your rook from the pin.
  13. Rook Sacrifices
  14. Rook shuffles. There is another variation where the AI will move the advisor back. Then you can take the cannon, his king moves to the left, your currently checking rook checks again and you can take its rooks.
  15. Another horse-cannon mate although black didn’t have to fall for the rook decoy and could have dragged on…

4 Pieces in the top rank

  1. Mate in one
  2. Another easy one
  3. Quiet moves
  4. If Black blocks with the horse, still go forward with the rook, then take the bishop with your cannon with a check, and mate by putting the horse between the cannon and king
  5. Double horses mate
  6. Decoy Pawn
  7. Pins

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Written by high pH