First post – we’ll start off with Shogi!

OK, this might be a weird topic to start off a parenting blog, but it’s a blog after all, so I’ll be writing about whatever the day brings. And lately, the day brought Shogi into our house.


I wonder how many of you knew or heard of Shogi before. I know I didn’t. The Bigguy (turning five in a couple of months) kept on talking about a new game they were playing in kindergarten. He was repeating about chickens and elephants and how he’d won with his friends and took their lion. Not being able to make out what he was actually talking about, I decided to ask their “auntie” (that’s what they call the ladies at kindergarten) about the game …

So, they play Shogi. Shogi is a Japanese version of chess, with the overall idea being similar (you need to capture the king) but the overall rules being quite different. For me, the main difference is that you can put captured figures back onto the board – that makes a huge difference in one’s strategic thinking. You can learn a bit about Shogi here, if you’re interested.

Anyway, so how does a to-be-soon-5-year-old play chess, and in a Japanese version at that? Well, there’s what they call Animal Shogi. They got theirs from some people who visited their kindergarten to teach them stuff on Japan. It’s a mini-Shogi, designed for kids.

The game seems simple enough – the board is only 3 x 4, so not too big. All you get is 4 figures: the lion (the king), an elephant, a giraffe and a chicken. Each figure can only move in certain ways (the elephant – diagonally, the giraffe – straight, the chicken only forward and the lion, of course, wherever he wants). And that’s it – the overall Shogi rules remain the same.

It turned out that as much as you can get normal, adult Shogi quite easily, the chances of buying animal shogi in Poland are close to none. So the next best thing – and Android app and playing on the smartphone.

Did I ever get a beating the first time around! The Bigguy just completely destroyed me. He was playing the game for almost a week before we caught on, and by now knew all the basic strategies. It wasn’t easy! By now I get along, and have to let him win every now and then. But really is a serious game.

I didn’t want to start the blog by recommending anything, but I just have to. If your kinds can’t get into chess (which may be quite boring and way too complex for the young guys) try Animal Shogi. Buy it, make it yourself (it’s not hard) or download it from the Android Market. It’s awesome, and you will spend some really high quality time with your kids. And you’ll be suprised just how they are able of difficult, adult strategic thinking!

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