The Anatomy of the Xiangqi part 4

--the end game
“it starts and ends with the endgame…”

In Xiangqi, the end game can be defined as the latter third part of the game. This is usually the stage where the final result is determined, be it a win or a loss or a draw. Most games last till endgame unless fatal mistakes have been made too early.

The endgame has the following characteristics:

  1. Lesser pieces ( after exchanges in the opening or mid-game)
  2. Less complex than the mid-game or openings
  3. Easier to analyze and determine whether the game is a draw or who has the upper hand.
  4. Certain formations where the result can be predicted

For the beginner, the study of the endgame is a good place to start learning Xiangqi.
The study of endgames in Xiangqi has been done to such an extent that now many formations can be determined as a sure win situation 例胜 or sure draw 例和. For example, one horse against one advisor is a sure win situation no matter where the horse is placed or how the advisor defends. A horse against 2 elephants is a sure draw.

However, due to bad positioning, there might be a way for the aggressor to win. For example, a horse against 1 elephant is normally deemed a sure draw if the elephant is placed correctly. Sometimes, however, the horse might be able to capture the elephant and win the game ( one horse versus a solitary king is a sure win situation). This is called a positional win or incidental win 巧胜 according to the WXF. The same goes for positional draw or 巧和.  

Enough cannot be said about the importance of remembering such situations, and nothing hurts more than to draw or even lose in the end game when you are supposed to win.
It is impossible and not within the context of this website to list all the sure-win situations or definite draw situations. I will only list the more commonly seen ones. 

I will organize these end-games and present to you each one of them and try to explain the rules as clear as possible.

To facilitate memory, abbreviations of the pieces will be used. The king is usually not represented. Only the pieces left are represented by their WXF notations. SW = sure win, PW = positional win, SD = sure draw and PW = positional draw.

For example,

a)      1C1A SW 1A, would mean that 1 cannon with 1 advisor is a sure win against the opposing side with only one advisor left. Normally, you have to manipulate your pieces into a certain position and a win is guaranteed. These are the endgames where it is highly recommended that you memorize.

b)      1R PW 2E2A, would mean that in this endgame, there is positional win (PW) for one chariot against 2 elephants and 2 advisors.

c)      1R SD 2E2A, would mean that a draw is normally the ruling when a chariot is faced against 2 elephants and 2 advisors

 Last updated: 21st March 2011              To the next article: Introduction to endgame compositions

References :

  1. In Chinese, <<象棋入门>> by 李浭 and 馬正福
  2. In Chinese, <<少兒象棋啟蒙篇>> by 傅寶勝
  3. In English, Chinese Chess, An Introduction to China’s Ancient game of Strategy by HT Lau
  4. In Chinese, <<象棋四日通>> by Master 黃少龍   
  5. In English,  
  6. In English,



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