Changgi players

Changgi is the Korean version of chess. It appears to be derived from the Chinese version of chess, know as Shang Chi. The graphic at the left, illustrating Korean men playing Changgi first appeared in Stewart Culin, Korean Games, with Notes on the Corresponding Games of China and Japan, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1895, plate xix.

There are some differences between the two games. Changgi pieces are octagonal in shape, and the Changgi board has no central river as found on the Shang Chi board.

The collection copy of the Changgi set was purchased in 1979 from a San Francisco, California shop selling games. The Changgi set came in an 11.7cm by 3.2cm octagonal green plastic box with a cover that fit over the bottom of the box. On the top of the box were a number of Korean written characters indicating the contents. There was no board sold with the box of pieces. According to Culin, while one could buy sets of Changgi pieces in shops, boards were not available for sale (op cit, page 82). Almost a century later, this situation had not seem to change!

Shang Chi set

The game is played on the 9 by 10 points of a 8 by 9 elongated rectangular board. Unlike European chess sets, the Changgi pieces are octagonal, and vary in size depending upon the power and role of the piece in the game. Each piece is marked with Korean characters identifying their role in the game. The 32 pieces in this set are made of plastic and the largest measures 3.7 cm in diameter by 1.3cm thick. The smallest measures 2.1cm in diameter by .6cm thick.

Both sides have identical pieces with similar powers and roles and moves as in the Chinese game. There are a number of differences from the European game. An excellent graphic Website which explains what each piece is and how the game is played is: To return to the Museum chess set Website, please use your "back button".

Last update February 24, 2010