Winning a game

In general, there are two ways to win a game of xiangqi

(1) Checkmate
A position in which your opponent’s King is under attack (in check) and he has no legal move to prevent his King from being captured.

In figure 1, Red to move. Note that the Black King is stranded to the corner by the Red Horse, both K6=5 and K6+1 are not playable. Red checkmates at once with either P3+1 or P3=4. The latter is playable because the King cannot capture the Pawn, being supported  by the Horse.

fig. 1

(2) Stalemate

A position in which your opponent has no legal move with any of his pieces, although his King is not in check. Unlike Western chess, a stalemate in xiangqi does not result in a draw. If you stalemate your

Now look at figure 2, the Red Horse is removed. Red can’t checkmate with either P3=4 (Black King simply takes it), or P3+1 (Black can answer with K6+1 or K6=5).
Here, Red can win by Stalemate. The Red Pawn has prevented Black from stepping up his King. Red simply moves his King to control the central file, K6=5, and Black will be left with no legal move. He is stalemated.
opponent, you win.

fig. 2

Elements of checkmate

A successful checkmate requires the participation of two forces:
(1) The Assaulting Force (AF) that makes the checking. It consists of mainly your own pieces including the King. At times, an opponent piece may be exploited to render its service as the Cannon Carriage.
(2) The Interception Force (IF) that may include some opponent pieces. There are situations where the interception force is entirely composed of opponent pieces.The following diagrams help reinforce these concepts.

AF: Horse

IF: Red King and Black’s two Advisers.

Remember the rules about the Kings? They must not face each other directly.


AF: Chariot

IF: Cannon with Black’s Elephant providing the gun carriage.

AF:  Cannon, exploiting the enemy Adviser as its gun carriage.

IF: Black’s Adviser at the palace center.
This is a unique smothered mate in xiangqi

Basic Checkmates

 Basic checkmates have the following characteristics:
(1) The checkmate is performed by a single piece or coordinated by two pieces.
(2) The opponent has no attacking pieces (Chariot, Cannon, Horse, Pawn) to protect his King.

As the objective of the game is to capture the opponent King, we recommend that new comers to the game should first study all the basic checkmate methods listed under the menu item “Checkmates”.