This is an historical martial art and board game of Japan in which you are graded based on your tournament performances. All shogi players are ranked by a dan system. In the current system, apprentice players become professional when they achieve the rank of 4-dan. Apprentice players aspiring to become professionals are ranked from 6-kyū to 3-dan. It is a wonderfully dynamic two-player strategy game, superior in my view to the more plodding nature of Chess. Setting up a fortress is more crucial than castling in chess. Play tends to develop quickly from the opening, but not always.
Games hardly ever end in a draw since captured pieces can be “dropped” back into the game on an empty square to assist in the checkmate attack! No pieces are ever lost to the game, checkmate becomes more likely in the latter stages, and so Shogi virtually never peters out into a dull endgame as so often happens with tournament Chess.
My only foray was as a complete beginner (15kyo) inthe 1989 Brit Shogi Championships. Regrettably I could only be present the first day of two because of other commitments so only completed 2 of the 5 games, which I won. I had been to the Tokyo World Computer Championships with this software (based on Pauli’s Shocky engine with adaptations and my Westernised symbols interface) and reached the Grand Finals. We lost, but from memory we were the first European entry to get that far.
The software as well as standard form of the game includes variants with other sized boards, some with slightly different pieces or rules. Bird Shogi is particularly famous amongst variants.
Instructions are included in the software. To be honest, software is so much more effective than paper books in teaching games that I have never bothered to write one form Shogi. Same goes for Chaturanga (though I might write about endgame strategies in the double-checkmate variations).
PC software download £8 (ca $10)