Shogi Opening Theory

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Shogi is Japanese chess. This book assumes that the reader already knows the rules of shogi. (If you don’t then, then please read about them on Wikipedia: w:Shogi.) Of course, if you have played shogi a bit, you probably will have realized that knowing the rules is actually not quite enough. The beginner is typically faced with the questions like ‘Well, what do I do now?’ or ‘How should I start a game?’ or ‘What is a good move?’ – it is these questions that this book will try to explore. This book will attempt to elaborate on the shogi opening, which are the introductory moves of a shogi game.

Since the initial state of every shogi game has all the pieces on the board in the same configuration, many people have collectively tried to find good ways to start shogi games for hundreds of years. In the chess world, this is known as opening theory, so we’ll go with that terminology: shogi opening theory. With this term theory, we mean not a scientific theory but rather that particular sets of introductory moves have been played before, are known by at least some of the playing community, and typically have been analyzed before (some with quite extensive historical thoughts and others that are relatively unexplored).

There are different ways that this topic may be organized. The way that chess theory works is that openings are usually named by moves orders. For instance, 1.e4 c5 is the Sicilian, 1.e4 d6 is the Pirc, and so on. Traditional shogi theory does not usually give labels to very particular sets of opening move orders. Instead shogi theory very much focuses on structures often regardless of what set of move orders that these structures may have been formed by. So, something like 1.P76 P34 has no associated name. What do have names are things like fortified formations that protect the king known as castles (such as Mino castle, Bear-in-the-hole castle, and so on) and configurations based on where the rook is placed (such as Static Rook, Fourth File Rook, and so on). There are some parallels in the chess world known as systems that characterize some openings this way (such as the King’s Indian Attack). At any rate, it may be useful to view shogi openings in both ways at times, but most of the time the focus will be on named structures keeping in line with traditional shogi literature.

Assumptions[edit | edit source]

As mentioned above, the reader is assumed to already be familiar with the rules of shogi. Additionally, the reader should be able to read western shogi notation (if not go to Wikipedia: w:Shogi notation) as well as be able to read the Japanese characters that appear on traditional shogi pieces and in shogi board diagrams that appear in shogi books (in Japanese and English). Finally, it would be probably be best to have played a number of games first.

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