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Play Chinese Chess Online Against the Computer with Western Pieces


If you like Chinese Chess you can also enjoy many more fun online games at Springfrog including:

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Play 2D and 3D Chess online against the computer

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Enjoy a traditional game of Chinese chess against the computer. The pieces of most Chinese chess sets and online games are usually only distinguishable by the Chinese characters on them which makes it difficult for Western eyes to tell the pieces apart. Springfrog's great version of this game uses Western pieces to make it easier to distinguish them, whilst keeping faithful to all of the traditional rules of Chinese Chess.

Whilst Chinese Chess, also known as Xiangqi, has some similarities to Western Chess, there are many differences which make this a unique challenge. Whereas the pieces on a Western Chessboard occupy the squares of a 8x8 board, Chinese Chesspieces actually sit on the intersections of the lines of the board. These intersection lines are known as points. The other main different aspect of the board itself is that horizontally in the center of the board there is a gap, known as the River.

Rules of How to Play Chinese Chess

The objective of the game is the same as Western Chess, that is to create a position where the next move would result in an unavoidable capture of the enemy's King (also known as the General). This is known as a checkmate.

A game can also be won if the opponent is in a position of Stalemate, where their king is not under threat but no pieces controlled by the opponent can make any legal moves. This is unlike Western chess where stalemate results in a draw.

If the King is in danger of being captured, but there is a possible way of avoiding the capture then the player whose King is in danger must make a move to avoid that capture.

Certain pieces are confined to particular areas of the board, for example the River forms a natural barrier across which Elephants cannot pass. Lets look in detail at the various pieces, their movement abilities and restrictions.

Pawns or Soldiers

The Pawn or Soldier is the most basic piece. It can only move one point at a time. Whilst in its home territory before crossing the river, pawns can only move forward. Once it has crossed the river a pawn can also move sideways (horizontally). These same moves are used to capture enemy pieces. Therefore unlike Western chess, captures are not done diagonally. There is also no promotion once a Pawn has. reached the far side of the board. Once here, a Pawn is simply restricted to sideways movement on that far rank.


Cannons can move horizontally or vertically. When moving without capturing they can move any number of points as long as their path is not blocked. Cannons capture enemy pieces in a unique way. The Cannon must jump over another piece (known as the Platform) in order to capture the next piece along the board. The Platform can be any piece, friend or enemy. There can be any number of points between the Cannon, the Platform and the captured piece.


The Chariot is exactly the same as a Rook or Castle in Western chess. In other words, Chariots move any number of points horizontally or vertically, as long as there are no pieces in their way. Capturing is done by occupying the point of the opponent's captured piece.


Horses move and capture in a similar way to Knights in Western Chess. That is to say they move by jumping two points horizontally or vertically, then one point at right angles to the first part of the move. There is one important difference to the movement of Knights in Western Chess: In Chinese Chess, a Horse's particular move is blocked if the first point in the initial 2-space move is blocked by another piece, whether friend or foe.


Elephants move exactly 2 points diagonally. As you may expect from their size and weight, Elephants can't jump! They also can't cross the River, so their range is limited to their home territory.

Advisors or Guards

Advisors are confined to the Palace, which is the space of 9 points in the middle back-ranks on the board denoted by diagonal crossing lines. Advisors move diagonally one point at a time.

The General or King

This is the top guy - the one you must protect at all costs. The General is confined to the palace and can only move one point at a time, either horizontally or vertically. The two opposing Generals are not allowed to see each other across the board without any other pieces being in between them. It is said that if this were to occur, a General could execute what is known as the Flying General move and assassinate the opposing general.

Good luck on the ancient Chinese battlefields and have fun!

Chinese Chess
Who goes first?
Computer skill level

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Play more fun online games here at Springfrog

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