Shogi-Variant Software

On this page I'm trying to list all the shogi variant software available. If you can supply additional information or correct me, please drop me a line.

Thanks for corrections and suggestions to Ivan A. Derzhanski, Fergus Duniho, Georg Dunkel, Steve Evans, Phil Holland and John Kewley.

The variants are ordered according to the board size in two groups:

The programs for the individual variants are ordered (more or less) according to computer gameplay. Note that many of these programs also play Modern Shogi. I've left it out since I think you should look elsewhere if you're looking for a program for Modern Shogi.

Shogi Variants with drops

Shogi Variants without drops

Supported platforms of Shogi Variant programs

Programs for Shogi Variants

Chu Shogi

ChuShogi (Colin Paul Adams) covers Chu Shogi. It is written in NetRexx, comes with the source, has a nice graphic board and the possibility to play over the internet and offers with two computer players (no chat possibility, though Computer Player 1 is slow and weak, Computer Player 2 is much stronger and faster. A necessity for Chu addicts. Compared to Zillions of Games both Computer players are much weaker (Zillions can easily give a two Lions handicap), but Colin's program plays much better shape. However, give Zillions three minutes per move on a fast machine and you will have to try your best if you want to win. So I recommend Zillions if you want a fast and hard opponent, and Colin's program if you want to improve your chu style.


Heian (Eduard Werner) is an adaption of the freely available chess program tscp by Thomas Kerrigan. It plays the 8x8 version of heian shogi. It's quite strong, especially in the middle game. Only the source code is provided, but it should compile on any platform with a C compiler. ASCII-interface only. Try it though, Heian Shogi is a very subtle little game! I strongly disagree with the Steve's opinion who states in his ShogiVar help file that it's "much slower and less interesting than later variants". I've only done it to understand the basics of chess-like game programming and now it's one of my favourite variants!


Pshogi is a strong mini shogi program for win95. It's really mini, you might need a microscope to play it at a big screen resolution. It has a nice graphical interface and it seems to be free (can anyone read the Japanese README?).


Shocky (Pauli Misikangas) covers micro shogi (4x5), mini shogi (5x5), judkin shogi(6x6) and tori shogi (7x7). Unfortunately, the Linux version only plays modern shogi. The other freely available version runs under DOS. The gameplay is quite strong, the interface is ASCII-only.


Roland Marounek's Shogis covers mini shogi (5x5), judkin's shogi (6x6), tori shogi (7x7), sho shogi (9x9), wa shogi (11x11), chu shogi (12x12), heian dai shogi (13x13), ka-dai shogi (a not so serious variant on a 14x14 board) and dai shogi (15x15).

It's a DOS program. It's the only extensible program: it allows you to create all the shogi variants you want and save them to a file, provided the board is not bigger than 15x15. It has quite a nice graphic mode ascii interface with menus, shows influences etc. However, I find it straining for my eyes and the gameplay is poor (it has the levels "very stupid", "normally stupid" and "stupid and slow" to elect from :-) but fast.


ShogiVar (Steve Evans) covers with drops the following variants: micro shogi (4x5), mini shogi (5x5), judkin shogi (6x6), whale shogi (6x6), tori shogi (7x7), yari shogi (7x9), and wa shogi (11x11). W.o. drops, you can play heian shogi (9x8), sho shogi (9x9), wa shogi (11x11), chu shogi (12x12), heian dai shogi (13x13), dai shogi (15x15), tenjiku shogi (16x16, but w.o. computer opponent, daidai shogi (17x17), maka daidai shogi (19x19), and tai shogi (25x25). It has a very nice graphical interface and supports the greatest number of games. There are extensive help files and rule files as well. The drawback is the poor gameplay (levels "weak" and "less weak"), though the bigger variants (daidai and up) catch up due to the sophisticated evaluation function. A must for every shogi variants addict.

Shogi Variants

Phil Holland's Shogi Variants is Shareware. It covers the following variants (all with drops): mini shogi (5x5), judkin shogi (6x6), tori shogi (7x7), wa shogi (11x11).

It's a Win9x program with mouse supported ascii graphics. It looks extensible, but the game play is extremely poor. Attention: If you run a non-English Windows version, you have to edit the .ini-file and set "Mobility Weight" (not used according to Phil) to 0, otherwise you get an initialisation error after selecting a variant. (Thanks to Phil for pointing out.)

There's also a commercial version available supporting more variants. Ask Phil.

Zillions of Games

Zillions of Games is a extensible, commercial graphical game engine for board games. It comes with almost 300 board games and offers the possibility of playing against a computer player or over a network (TCP/IP or IPX). When playing over the net, there is also a chat possibility. A demo is available from their website.

Since ZoG comes with a macro language (which unfortunately lacks anything resembling decent developing and debugging facilities) many rule files for Shogi Variants have been written. The ones supplied by me use the graphics from Steve's ShogiVar (who also converted their background to make them look nicer, many thanks at this point) are all more or less based on the shogi rule file written by Steve. Unfortunately, there's no way of directly assigning values to the pieces, using opening books or strategies. Especially in Modern Shogi, this weakness can be felt. Still, I find it a highly recommendable program.

As a rule of thumb, the smaller the board, the better the gameplay, and games with drops are much weaker than games without drops. Right now, there are the following games available:

Not yet investigated

There's a lot of free Shogi programs on, but you seem to need a Japanese Windows 95 and an lharc program capable to really extract lzh-archives containing files with long filenames. I'll be happy to include any information provided.

There's David Courtney's Tori Shogi out on, unfortunately (at least for me) only for RISC OS. It looks as it has nice graphics and might well be the strongest Tori Shogi program on the net. If you have any data you can provide, please do so. David says it was partly handcrafted assembler, so there won't be any ports to other systems.

BTW: This page/subsite is sponsored by Shogi.Net, the portal to the wonderful world of Shogi!!!