Shogi is not nearly as popular as I’d like it to be in English speaking countries. Most shogi enthusiasts feel the game should be at least popular enough that chess enthusiasts have heard of it. But alas, even most geeky chess players have never heard of shogi or Japanese chess.
A side effect of the challenge of finding shogi players in America and other English speaking countries is that very few shogi books are published for English speakers. I generally buy every English shogi book I can find, and often have a complete collection of every published magazine and book written in English.
Today, I was glad to discover my shogi book collection is once again out-of-date. I was glancing at Amazon and discovered two new English language shogi books I don’t own. It was all I could do to prevent myself from whipping out the already overused credit card and purchasing them on the spot.
You can see the Amazon suggestions above. I already own Trevor Leggett’s book, Japanese Chess. It’s a very good book for new players to shogi, by the way. Don’t Cry, Zeffiro appears to be a popular manga that has shogi as a theme. I don’t own that one, but might end up buying a copy of the series someday. Don’t Cry, Zeffiro is popular in Japan’s shogi newspaper, Shukan Shogi.
What got me really excited are the two end books, Which pieces do you need to mate? and HIDETCHI Japanese-English Shogi Dictionary. Those two books are new to me. Not many years ago, the only English language books on shogi available were basic, these-are-the-rules type books. It is so refreshing to see books delving deeper into individual topics of shogi.
Which pieces do you need to mate? by Daisuke Katagami appears to be a book of mating problems. Three pieces are shown in hand, and the reader must decide which of the pieces can result in a mate. It is written by a professional shogi player, virtually guaranteeing an educational experience for us amateurs. The book already has two very positive reviews on Amazon.
While I am excited to get my hands on Which pieces do you need to mate? I am even more excited about the HIDETCHI Japanese-English SHOGI Dictionary. I have spent countless hours frustrated by shogi specific Japanese words and phrases that aren’t explained in any of my Japanese-English dictionaries. All of the most advanced shogi books, tutorials, and articles are written in Japanese and completely unreadable to someone without a good grasp of shogi specific Japanese vocabulary.
If you’re a die hard shogi enthusiast, you probably recognize HIDETCHI from the extremely popular YouTube series of shogi videos. The videos have opened up a world of shogi information that can be found nowhere else on the English speaking sites of the web. My favorite of the HIDETCHI videos explains flipping and placing pieces with a cool Japanese flare. If the dictionary is as informative as the video series, then it will be a great buy.
Looks like I have two new shogi books to drool over. I’ll see if I can talk my wife or kids into buying them for me for Christmas or my birthday. Father’s Day is coming up, either of those books would make a great tie substitute! Shogi books make great Father’s Day presents, … hint, hint.