Is Chess too easy for you? Then maybe it is time to try Shogi.  What makes Shogi so challanging is that players can place pieces they have captured back onto the board like paratroopers. Shogi has a strong following in Japan, and when you take the time to learn it you will discover why.

Players 2


A Shogi board and pieces

How to play

The pieces are set up as shown in the photo below, with the unprompted side( the black printing) up.


The moves of each piece are shown in the photos below.

The king can move one square in any direction


The gold general can move one space in any direction except diagonlly backwards


The Silver General can move one square along any diagonal or one space forward


A promoted Silver General moves like a Gold General


The Knight moves two spaces forward and one space to the left or the right, jumping over any piece.


A promoted Knight moves like a Gold General


A Lance can move forward any numberof squares, but can not jump over any piece.


A promoted Lance moves like a Gold General


The Diagonal-Mover can move any number of spaces in a diagonal direction, just like a Bishop in Chess


A promoted Dianonal-Mover is also called a Dragon King and can move like a king or Diagonal-Mover


A Flying Chariot moves like a Rook in Chess, any number of squares along a straight line



A promoted Flying Chariot or Dragon Horse moves like a Flying Chariot or a King


A Foot Soilder moves forward one square

A promoted foot solider moves like a Gold General.


A piece can capture a opponent’s piece by landing on it. The captured piece is is removed from the board and placed on the right side of the board. Some sets may have a special platform to place the captured pieces.

On a player’s turn they move one of  his or her piece or drop a piece they have captured on a empty square on the board.

A dropped piece is always dropped unpromoted. A player can not drop a Foot Solider in a file with another of his or her unpromoted Foot Solider.

A Foot Solider can not be dropped into check mate

No piece can be dropped onto a square where it will have no future moves.

Every piece except the King and Gold General can promote.  A piece can promote when it moves into ,within, or leaves the final three ranks of the board. Promotion is optional unless there is no further legal future move. A promoted piece is flipped over so that the red printing shows and it moves as shown above in the photos.

When the king is under attack from another piece he or she is in “check”. A player can not perpetualy put King in check by repeating the same board postion. The player who started this situation is oblige to make a different move.

The game is won by check mating the opposing King. If the King is attacked and can not move out of danger, block the attack with another piece or capture the attacking piece  the player is checkmated.




When you are siting with a table full of Russians, it is safe to say that most of them will know how to play Durak.  Players try to avoid being the last player to have any cards left at the end of the hand.  That player is the Durak, and has lost the game.  
Players 2-6

Standard deck with 2-5 removed

How to play

The dealer gives each player 6 cards. The top card of the remaining deck is flipped and placed face up under the remaining cards crossways.  The suit of this card determines the trump suit. 

Aces are high followed by kings down to 6. Trumps always beat non-trump cards regardless of rank. 

 The player with the lowest trump is the first attacker.  The player to the attacker’s left is always the defender. After each turn play proceeds clockwise. 

The attacker opens the bout by playing one card face up on the table as an attacking card. The player to the attacker’s left is the defender and must play a higher card in suit or a trump card to beat the card. If a trump card was the attacking card it is beat by higher trump only. The defending cards are placed across  the attacking card it is beating.

If the defender beats the first attack card, the attacker can continue the attack by playing another card. If the defender beats this second attack card too, the attack can be continued with further cards if :

The new attack card is the same rank as some card already played  as a  attack card or a card played by the defender during that bout.

The total number of cards played by the attackers during a bout six or less

If the defender had fewer than six cards before the bout, the number of cards played by the attackers must not be more than the number of cards in the defender’s hand.

Other opponents of the defender may play an attack card if given permission by the original attacker.  They may however not talk about what cards they have to play on the attack.

If the defender can not beat or choses not to  beat all the attacking cards, he or she must pick up all the attack and defending cards played during that bout and put them into his or her hand. The defender may choose to stop defending at any point during the turn. If a defender stops deffending the turns ends immediately. The failed defender loses her or his turn to attack, and the player to the defender’s left attacks next.

If  the defender has beaten all attacking cards, and no other players are willing or able to add more, the defender has won the bout. The turn ends, all cards on the table are discarded mace down to the discard pile. The defender becomes the new attacker.

At the end of each turn each player takes cards from the remaining deck till their hand has six cards. The main attacker draws first then any addtional attackers in table order and finally the defender. 

  When the deck runs out of cards, play continues  without any more cards being drawn. At this point, when someone runs out of cards, they are done with the game.

The last player player that has cards left if the loser and deals the next game.

Team play

If you have four players or six players, Durak can be played with teams. Teams of two sit oposite each other at the table. Teams of three are possible if you have six players The members of each team may not help in the deffense of a teammate, but they may help during the attack of an opponent.


Twenty Five

With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner I thougt it time to feature a game from Ireland. Twenty Five is a fast trick taking  card game that  I am told is still popular In  Irish pubs.  After learning the ranking of the cards, you will find Twenty Five is a great game for when you have a large group a friends at your table. Sláinte!

Players 3-9

With an even number of players, players can be split into pairs. Each pair is a team and sits opposite of each other. With odd number of players each players plays as a individual.


Standard 52 card deck 

How to play

The photo below  shows the ranking order of cards if the truump suit was spades.

Ranking order of trump cards

5, J ,A (of hearts),A,K, Q, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 (When spades or clubs are trump)

5, J, A ,K, Q,10, 9, 8, 7, 6,4, 3, 2 (when hearts are trump)

5, J, A (of hearts), A,K, Q, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 ( when diamonds are trumps)

Ranking order of non-trump cards

K, Q, J, A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 (spades and clubs)

 K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 (hearts)

 K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, A (diamonds)

The dealer deals five cards to each player two at a time followed by three at a time.

The top card of the remaining stack of cards  is flipped over. The suit of this turned card is trumps for the hand. 

If a player has  the ace of trumps he or she may take the trump card turned up by the dealer. This is called robbing the trump.  Robbing the trump  must be done before he or she  plays a card to a trick. The player places a unwanted card from his or her  hand face down beside the undealt part of the deck. The trump card may then either be  taken into  his or her hand or left on the table but still used as though it were one of the cards in their hand. 

If the turned up card is the ace, the dealer may rob the trump.

The player to dealer’s left leads to the first trick. The highest card of the suit led wins unless a trump is played, in which case the highest trump wins. The winner of each trick leads to the next.

When a card of a non-trump suit is led, players who have cards of this suit must either play a card of the suit that was led or play a trump. If a player has neither a card from the suit led or trump they may play and card the chose.

When a trump is led, the other players must play trumps if possible, with the exception of the top three trumps (which are the 5, the Jack and the Ace of hearts). These three cards have the privilege of reneging A player can only be forced to play any of the three top trumps when the first  player leads a better trump than any of the top three trumps the player  holds. If a player holds no trumps or only the trumps allowed to reneg, he or she may play any card they chose. 

Each trick is worth five points to the team or player that wins it. As soon as a player reaches 25 points the game is over and that player or team is the winner. This can occur before the hand being played is complete. 

If no player has reached 25 at the end of the hand, the next dealer shuffles, the cards are cut, and a new hand is dealt and played.

When played for stakes some people play  that the winner is paid after each game. However , when the game is played between two teams it is common to play the team who won best out of five games wins the stake.

A score of 25 to zero is often considered winning two games or double the stake.

Home Made Schnapsen Set

Need a Schnapsen set to take to your local cafe? Try taking the H,C,D,and S tiles from an old Scrabble game. These tiles represent the suits of marriages that have been played during the hand.  Then find some  beads to make  two small abacus to keep track of points won.  Add to this a deck with cards from ace to ten ,and you are ready to play

Improvised Hanafuda Deck

A Hanafuda deck is not always  available when you want to play koi Koi.  Fear not ,because any 52 card western deck can be used to play Hanafuda games.  Since there are fours cards of each rank it is simple to let the ranks of the card be it’s Hanafuda suit.  So you would remove the twos from the deck and you have 12 Hanafuda suits. For example all the aces would be Pine/ January. The ace of spades would be the bright of the suit, the ace of clubs the ribbon, and  aces of Hearts and Diamonds would be the trash cards of the suit.

If you do not mind drawing on your cards, the special  cards of a suit could be marked with a sharpie marker. Otherwise you could simply write a the role of each card on a piece of paper. Maybe even write a list of the Yaku with the modified suits on it.

If you have any ideas how to improve this idea please share in the comments.