Basics of Xiangqi (Chinese Chess) 04 The Xiangqi Notation

There is a simple way for recording XQ games or moves. In 2018, the World Xiangqi Rules was published which has strict rules as to how to write the notation. The Webmaster was honored to provide the first ever English translation of the rules.

In the ancient times, the notation for Xiangqi was not like the modern-day version. There were many different notations. Some were purely descriptive in nature. Some, like the Plum Flower Manual by Wang, had a ninety word long poem made up of unique Chinese Character. Each Chinese Character represeted a specific intersection and notation was simply given by two Chinese Characters.
In the World Xiangqi Rules, the recommendations for notations has not changed. An improvement was that clear instructions were given for the issue of tandem pawns.
Each move is basically made up of 4 components. Please check out the video for a clear concise explanation.



The first component is basically an alphabet to present the chess piece moved.

According to WXF (World Xiangqi Federation, the official governing body), the notations for the various pieces are as follows :


Xiangqi (Chinese Chess) Pieces and their official abbreviations
King Advisor Elephant Chariot Horse Cannon Pawn


There has been different names used for the various pieces since Western scholars were first introduced to Xiangqi. However, it is best recommended that the WXF recommendations are used.

The second component is the file which the chess piece is located.

The third component refers to the movement of the piece:

forward is denoted by “+” , backwards is denoted by “-” and traversing the same horizontal column is denoted by “.”.
There are some variations to the notations for traversing though. In most Chinese XQ manuals, it can be represented by “=” or nothing at all , just simply C25. I am more comfortable with “=” but all 3 notations are acceptable.

The fourth or last component denotes the number of steps moved.

Before we go on, a few terms are to be clarified again.
File --> the vertical line on which a piece is located. The files are numbered.
For Red, the files begin on the RIGHT and are numbered from 1-9 respectively.
For Black, the files also begin on the RIGHT but, on black's right hand side and are numbered from 1-9 respectively.
Therefore, Red's 4th file is equivalent to Black's 6th file! Please remember that everything is relative.

Rank --> the horizontal line on which a piece is located.



1. 世界象棋联合会;中国象棋协会. 世界象棋规则. 北京 : 人民体育出版社, 2018. 978-75009-5141-9.

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