23 Jun 2014
How To

Rules of Chinese Chess

Introducing Qua’s unique and exclusive lacquered Chinese Chess board set. For thousands of years, Chinese chess, otherwise known as Xiangqi chess game, has been one of the most popular strategy board games characteristic of the Chinese culture, because of its long history. The game represents a battle between two armies, with the objective of capturing the enemy’s general.  It has been a strong embodiment of the traditional Chinese spirit of battle and scholarship since thousands of years ago and is still played widely and frequently as a pastime today. The Chinese chessboard is also frequently used as a table accessory to communicate academia or as a connection with the literati. This product offers quality and elegance, thus also making it an ideal gift for a traditional family.




Basic Rules of Xiang Qi

  • Start Board Position

The pieces start in the position shown below.

Chinese Chess board set up

  • Objective of the Game

There are 2 ways to end a game:

  • When one player captures the other’s general – when the general is in danger of being captured by the enemy player on his next move, the enemy player has “delivered a check”.  A check should be announced. If the general’s player can make no move to prevent the general’s capture, the situation is called “checkmate”.

  • Alternatively, the game also ends when a player has no legal and safe moves left.


  • Moves


King Chess Pieces


  • The general may move and capture one point orthogonally.

  • The two generals may not face each other in the same file with no intervening pieces.

  • If that happens, the 飛將 (“flying general”) move may be executed, in which one general may cross the board to capture the enemy general.

  • This rule is only used to enforce checkmate.

  • The general may not leave the palace except when executing the flying general move.

King Chess

Counselor / Adviser 

Counselor Chess Pieces


  • They move and capture one point diagonally and may not leave the palace.

Chinese Chess


Chinese Chess pieces


  • These pieces move and capture exactly two points diagonally and may not jump over intervening pieces.

  • Elephants may not cross the river, and serve as defensive pieces.

  • The two elephants are often used to defend each other.

Chinese Chess


Chinese Chess


  • A horse moves and captures one point orthogonally and then one point diagonally away from its former position.

  • The horse can be blocked by a piece located one point horizontally or vertically adjacent to it.

  • Since horses can be blocked, it is sometimes possible to trap the opponent’s horse.

  • It is possible for one player’s horse to have an asymmetric attack advantage if an opponent’s horse is blocked.

Chinese Chess 



Chinese Chess


  • The chariot moves and captures any distance orthogonally, but may not jump over intervening pieces.

  • The chariots begin the game on the points at the corners of the board.

  • The chariot is considered to be the strongest piece in the game.

Chinese Chess

Cannon / Catapult 

Chinese Chess


  • Cannons move like chariots, any distance orthogonally without jumping.

  • When using the Cannon, a player may either move or capture, but not do both.


  • Cannons can only capture by jumping a single piece, friend or foe, along the path of attack.

  • Cannons can be exchanged for horses immediately from their starting positions.

Chinese Chess




  • Home territory: They move and capture by advancing one point.

  • Enemy territory: Once they have crossed the river, they may also move and capture one point horizontally.

  • Soldiers cannot move backwards, and therefore cannot retreat.

  • After advancing to the last rank of the board, however, a soldier may still move sideways at the enemy’s edge.

Chinese Chess