The central theme in all forms of chess is a representation of war without the randomness or inequalities of the real thing. Both sides begin the battle with the same number of pieces, and except for the privilege of first move, the sides are completely even.
The beginnings of chess can be traced back to seventh century India, where the game was called Chaturanga. Soon, it spread to the nearby regions of Persia and China. By the 11th century the game had migrated, by way of Spanish and Italian traders, throughout Europe. During this time it underwent a lot of modifications until it became the international version that is seen today.
While all this was happening in Europe, chess was undergoing different changes in China. The Chinese version differs from its western counterpart in that it more reflects the Chinese culture and philosophy. For instance, since the Chinese were the early developers of gunpowder, a piece representing a cannon was added to the set. Each piece has a unique history associated with it which reveals something of the Chinese culture.
The basics of Chinese Chess are identical to that of many other games - defeat your opponent. This is done by forcing the opponent's King into position where it cannot make a legal move. However, there are several differences from Western Chess that make it unique.
A standard chess board is constructed from an eight by eight grid of squares. In Chinese Chess the board consists of nine vertical lines and ten horizontal lines with the pieces positioned on the intersections. An open section in the centre of the board, called the river, divides the play area into northern and southern territories. Each territory has an Imperial Palace made up of nine points in the three by three square marked by the diagonal lines.
The pieces also differ from the standard types you will be used to, and the moves they are permitted to make have slight differences to normal chess. For example, the King may still move as normal but is not permitted to leave the Imperial Palace. And at no time may he directly face the enemy King unless another piece is between them.
All in all. Chinese Chess is perhaps a more colourful representation of war. It combines a richer historical feeling characterised by the symbolic presence of each piece with a greater scope of movement allowed by the larger and more open board. The computerised version of any board game would be incomplete without selection of options and other extra features. You can either play a game on the same computer with a friend or against the program, or play an opponent many miles away using a modem link up. To pick up some handy hints on gameplay the computer can be set to play itself while you watch the action.
There are nine levels of competence that the computer can be set at. The novice level is the easiest - the computer will only do a simplistic board evaluation. On the hardest level up to 15 minutes can be spent considering all of the possible moves and the consequences.
What makes Battle Chess different from other games of a similar nature is the style in which the playing pieces are depicted. Rather than opting for static, traditional pieces the designers use full colour, animated representations of the pieces. When one piece eliminates another they will enter a duel that will leave the loser lying in a pool of blood.
The whole product reeks of professionalism and definitely should not be missed.
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