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San-Kwo-K'i (San-Kwo-Chih)




Eastern Asia, Southeastern Asia


San-Kwo-K'i is a three-player version of Xiangqi. It is conceptualized as reflecting the War of the Three Kingdoms from Chinese history (221-264 CE). Each player plays as one of the three kingdoms: Wei (blue), Shu (red), and Wu (green).


Played on a hexagonal board with the three camps divided by a "river. Pieces are placed on the intersections of the lines. Centered on opposite sides of the boards are two areas, known as the gong ("castle"). Pieces are double-sided, with different colors and names of the pieces indicating to which player they belong. Jiang("general")/shuai("marshal")(1): may move one space orthogonally and cannot leave the gong except when opposite the opponent's jiang/shuai, in which case the piece can capture the opponent's jiang/shuai. Shi("guard")(2): moves one space diagonally and cannot leave the gong. Xiang("elephant")/xiang("minister")(2): move two places diagonally and cannot cross the river. Ma("horse")(2): move orthogonally one and then diagonally one space. Can be blocked by a piece next to it orthogonally. Ju("chariot"(2): moves any number of spaces orthogonally. Pao("catapult")/pao("cannon") (2): can move orthogonally any number of spaces, captures by jumping one piece (of either player). Zu("private"/zu ("soldier")(5): can move one space forward. Once they cross the river, can also move one space horizontally. Chuo (red, "fire")/Ch'i (blue, "banner")/Feng (green, "wind")(2): moves two points orthogonally and one point diagonallyThe goal is to checkmate the opponents' jiang/shuai. When a player checkmates one of their opponent's jiang/shuai, it is removed from the board and any of that opponent's pieces are now controlled by the player making the checkmate.

von Möllendorf 1876: 17-18.




Murray 1913: 133-134

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Murray, H. J. R. 1913. A History of Chess. London: Oxford University Press.

von Möllendorf, O. 1876. "Das Schachspiel der Chinesen." Mittheilungen der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Natur- und Völkerkunde Ostasiens 2: 11-18.



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