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Chinese chess

General / Commander

jiàng (tian)

shuài (švei)

Move and attack one square vertically or horizontally. Cannot leave the palace.

In the picture you can see where the General and the Counselor start in the palace.



1 pawn, 2 canon, 3 carriage, 4 horse, 5 elephant, 6 counsellor, 7 general

Two generals cannot look at each other across the board in a single column – there must be a piece between them. If this happens, the player on the move wins.

Counsellor / Guardian

shì (š)


Move and attack one square diagonally and cannot leave the palace.

Elephant / Minister

xiàng (sian)


Move exactly two squares diagonally and they can’t skip pieces. Elephant cannot cross the river – defensive unit. Starts standing next to the advisor.


The horse moves one square vertically or horizontally and then one square diagonally. At the beginning, the horse stands next to the elephant in the same row.

In the picture you can see that the red horse can take the black horse, but the black horse cannot take the red horse because the piece is in the way.


jū (č)

The carriage moves vertically or horizontally for any distance. It cannot jump over figures. It starts standing by the horse in the same row.


pào (phao)


The cannon moves like a carriage, horizontally and vertically, and cannot jump over a piece unless it rolls. The distance of the attack is unlimited, but it must jump over any one other piece (an aid to aiming). The cannon starts by standing two spaces ahead of the horse.

In the picture you can see how the cannon fires through the auxiliary figure at a selectable distance.


zú (dzu)

bīng (pin)

Move and attack one square forward in front of the river and also one square to the side behind the river. Non-diagonal and they can’t go back. The five pawns start standing in the second row behind the river with both squares between them.

And finally, the checkmate. Assuming the cannon is safe, the horse is no longer needed.