From: GRIMBERGEN KUNPV1 PSYCH KUN NL
Date: 30 jul 1990
Subject: Tsume Shogi
TSUME SHOGI
Solving tsume shogi is a special skill that is neglected by a lot of Shogi
players. This is unfortunate, since tsume shogi sharpens your endgame and
because Shogi has drops, the endgame and especially mating the enemy king
can turn a game completely around. Countless are the games I won starting
from a bad position and I think I have my tsume shogi to thank for that.
But even more important, solving tsume shogi is lots of fun. I love puzzles
and that is exactly what tsume shogi is about. Some of my fellow players
call me crazy but one of my greatest joys in Shogi is solving a very hard
tsume problem after hours of puzzling, frustrated to the bone, but refusing
to give up and look at the solution. Of course you don't have to get so
obsessive about it, but tsume shogi is an essential part of studying the
game.
The rules of tsume shogi:
Tsume shogi problems are given by means of a diagram, showing the
position from which you have to mate the king by consecutive checks. You
are always black and only the enemy (white) king is showed (your own king
is not important, since you are about to mate your opponent) alongside the
defending pieces and the pieces you can use to mate (both on the board and
in hand). All pieces not shown are considered to be in your opponents hands
and can be dropped in defence. Often the number of moves is given in
Japanese count (blacks first move counted as 1, white's answer as 2,
blacks second move as 3, white's answer as 4 and so on) but this is not
necessary. It is important to note that a useless defensive move (like
dropping a piece between king and checking piece that can be taken without
changing the mate) is not counted as a move. This is neither a design nor a
qualification fault but a basic rule of tsume shogi (but be careful, in some
of the more tricky problems dropping a piece can change the mate
according to the piece dropped).
How to solve tsume shogi problems:
The basic idea is to solve tsume shogi problems without moving the pieces,
just like in a game situation. Some players prefer to put the position on a
board but I trained myself to solve the problem directly from the book or
magazine so that tsume shogi is useful way of killing time in train, car or
plane.
Roughly said, problems with more moves are more difficult than problems
with fewer moves. Although this is not always true (Mr. Ito 5-dan once
showed me a 9-mover that cost him a day to solve, although most 9-
movers don't take me more than 5 minutes) it is easy to find books working
according this principal. I started tsume shogi with a book by Kato,
containing 180 tsume problems (unfortunately this book is now out of
print). At the start I had a very difficult time, but going through the book I
was amazed at the beautiful themes used in tsume and I began to like it
more and more. Shortly after finishing this book I became sho-dan by
beating five dan-players in a row, quite a few in a close endgame.
Reijer Grimbergen