Chess in Chinese ♟️ A Practical Guide

Fundamentals of Chess in Chinese

Want to play Chess in Chinese? Learn all the pieces, moves and more for playing Chess in Chinese.

BONUS: Discover differences between Chess and Chinese chess

Want to know how to say Chess in Chinese? It’s 国际象棋 (guó jì xiàng qí). Not to be mistaken with the Chinese chess 象棋 (xiàngqí).

⬇️⬇️⬇️ Take the Chinese Chess Quiz ⬇️⬇️⬇️

Want to play international (European) Chess in Chinese?

Might be helpful, first to know the pieces and moves when playing Chess in Chinese! Don’t worry, we have you covered in yet another useful guide to playing board games in Chinese!

If you want to find out more about playing board games in Chinese we have a helpful guide for you.

Our Chinese board games article even includes instructions for Chinese chess.

That’s right! There’s a Chinese version of the classic game of chess. It’s called 象棋 (xiàngqí) which translates to ‘Elephant Chess‘.

Xiàngqí is one of the most popular board games in China and Vietnam and is in the same family as what we know as International / European chess.

The object of the game is to capture your opponent’s king (sound familiar?) while protecting your own. The reason for the name including ‘elephant’ in the game is because there is an elephant ‘象’ (xiàng) piece on the board.

Want to learn more animals in Chinese?

Elephants in Chinese Chess behave like bishops but are restricted to only being used for defence.

Still, wanting to more Chinese board games? How about the age-old Monopoly? We have entirely dissected the Chinese version to bring you a comprehensive guide to playing Monopoly in Chinese.

First, let’s break down the keywords you’ll be needing for Chess in Chinese.

EnglishHanziPinyin
Chess国际象棋 guó jì xiàng qí
Chess Piece棋子 qízǐ
Chess Player棋手 qí shǒu
Chess Board棋盘qí pán
White Piece 白棋 bái qí
Black Piece黑棋hēi qí

Know all the colours in Chinese?

Next, the pieces on the board when playing Chess in Chinese are translated to:

EnglishHanziPinyin
Pawn兵, 卒 bīng, zú
Bishopxiàng
Knight
Rook (castle)
Queenhòu
Kingwáng

Want to impress your Chinese chess playing friends? Here are some ways to do that. 

Firstly, when talking about ‘a game’ of chess, the way you would have been referred to a game would have most likely been in a sporting context.

A sporting match or competition is 游戏 (yóuxì).

Instead, refer to ‘the game’ of Chess in Chinese as 对局 (duì jú).

  • King-in-Chinese-1
  • Queen-in-Chinese-1
  • Bishop-in-Chinese-1
  • Knight-in-Chinese-1
  • Castle-in-Chinese-1
  • Pawn-in-Chinese-1

Now your opponent knows you’re not messing around!

Lastly, for your chess vocabulary you’ll want to know all the moves!

EnglishHanziPinyin
To Move走棋 zǒu qí
To Sacrifice牺牲 xī shēng
Castling王车易位 wáng jū yì wèi
Check 将军jiāng jūn
Checkmate将死jiāng sǐ

Some final words to complete your Chess vocabulary in Chinese are:

  • Chess Tournament 国际象棋比赛 guó jì xiàng qí bǐ sài
  • Grand Master 象棋大师 xiàng qí dàshī
  • Combination 组合 zǔ hé

Want to be called a 象棋大师 (xiàng qí dàshī) when playing chess?

Use a 组合 (zǔ hé) and let your opponent know you know the word too! 

A Combination is a move in chess that usually involves you sacrificing a valuable piece forcing your opponent into action.

The result is their guaranteed defeat 打败 (dǎbài) and your victory 胜利 (shènglì).

So you’ve dominated in International Chess in Chinese? Is it time to turn to Chinese chess?

First, let’s talk about when was Chinese chess invented. 

The original Chinese chess was created around 200 B.C by a military commander named Hán Xin. Hán Xin was using it to help develop his military strategy, and it later became known as The game to capture Xiang Qi. Xiang Qi being the commander of the opposing army. 

To set up your Chinese Chess board first take out your 16 pieces of your army. You’ll either be playing as red or black.

Generally red plays first but the two players can agree otherwise.

Chinese chess pieces are flat circles that will either have an image printed on them indicating what they are or will have traditional / simplified Chinese printed on them.

Pieces are placed upon the lines of the chessboard that is 9×10 in dimensions. 

Additionally, there is a river down the middle of the board, splitting the two armies. 

Here’s your army:

1 General (King) 2 Advisors/ Guards2 Elephants (Bishops)2 Chariots (Rooks)
Black: 将 jiàng
Red: 帅 shuài
Black: 士 shì
Red: 仕 shì
Black: 象 xiàng
Red: 相 xiàng
Black: 車 jū
Red: 俥 jū
2 Horses (Knights)2 Cannons (Catapults)5 Soldiers (Pawns)
Black: 馬 mǎ
Red: 傌 mǎ
Black: 砲 pào
Red: 炮 pào
Black: 卒 zú
Red: 兵 bīng

Check out this video by Rick on how to play Chinese Chess.

He will go through all of the pieces, how to set up the board and give a break down on what the pieces can do in the game.

Chinese Chess Quiz

Welcome to the Chess quiz! Enter your First name and email to begin. Don't worry you can unsubscribe at any time!

First Name
Email
车 (jū)

Black Piece

马 (mǎ)

Chess Board

Chess Player

Checkmate

Check

White Piece

后 (hòu)

To Move

兵, 卒 (bīng, zú)

象 (xiàng)

Chess Piece

Chess

王 (wáng)

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Chess in Chinese – FAQ’s

What is the difference between Chess and Chinese Chess?

International Chess and Chinese Chess are similar in ways but have some key differences that set them apart.

The objective to take the king/ general remains the same and the pieces are very similar in their name, set up and abilities.

Chinese chess pieces are similar to coins with either the Chinese characters or an image printed on them.

International chessboards are 9×9 squares whereas on a Chinese chess board piece move along lines which are 9×10 with a ‘river’ diving the board.

Where can I buy Chinese chessboard?

Chinese chess is a top-rated game both in China and internationally. You’ll have no trouble finding it in most board game stores or online.

How do you say king in Chinese?

The kind in International Chess is called 王 (wáng), and in Chinese chess, he is a general 将 (jiàng) for black 帅 (shuài) for red.

How many pieces are on a Chinese chess board VS international chessboard?

Both international and Chinese chess has 32 pieces in total, 16 per player.

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    Alexander Krasnov , Student Advisor

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