Best Free Chinese Chess

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Introduction

Chinese Chess is thought to be played by part of around one billion Chinese speakers around the world (and they can’t all be wrong!). Xiangqi—to give the game its Mandarin title—translates as Elephant Chess. It is actually a noble cousin of the modern Western game: both forms seem to have evolved from a common ancestor, presumably related to the legendary Indian game of Chaturanga.

The rules of Chinese chess are close enough to those of the Western game to make them easy to digest. But their differences make for subtly different game play.

Chinese chess has attracted its fair share of interest from computer programmers, and even top players are meeting their match. The good news is that there are excellent freeware options for the delight of all sorts of players.

 

Rated Products

HOXChess  

Top recommended free Chinese chess and a well designed open source program supporting multi platforms


Our Rating: 
4.5
License: Free (Open source)
Support multi platforms and work with multiple online game sites, configurable user interface with optional board and chessmen designs, support multiple engines with adjustable difficulty levels, open and save games in xml format.
No import from other game formats, no undo and redo moves although steps forward and backward are available for reviewing games. Computer vs computer mode not available.
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Qianhong  

A remarkably user-friendly chinese chess program recommended for anyone new to the game


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free
Good for learning with undo/redo moves and hints, scalable board, traditional and western sets of pieces, complete user manual, support icc file format. Various modes of play including user/computer vs. computer.
Stronger third party engine needs to install separately, user interface design not as good as HOXChess.
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WinBoard  

WinBoard has a Chinese Chess interface and runs almost any UCCI engines


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free
Various engines included, support UCCI engines, play against a chess engine or match two engines with auto-save match results, set conventional clock or incremental clock, open and save games in pgn format, etc.
Setting up Internet Chess Server for Xiangqi not as easy as HOXChess, encountered some bugs such as a blank window for setting some engines with the program.
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XieXie Freeware  

A Chinese chess game with rich features and a built-in engine strong enough for most players


Our Rating: 
3.5
License: Free (Limited features)
Engine strong enough for most players, handicapped or timed game, various board sizes, styles and colors, chessmen sets; show hints, undo/redo moves, save games and edit opening books.
No third party engine plug-in.
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HiddenLynx  

A very good application for practicing and playing Chinese Chess


Our Rating: 
3
License: Free
Simple user interface, highlights available moves, undo/redo moves, built-in engine with 5 levels of strength, auto-save games.
No third party engine plug-in, cannot edit opening books, etc.
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Milo's Chinese Chess  

The 3D vivid interface together with animated legal moves enriches your game experience


Our Rating: 
3
License: Free
3D vivid interface, animated legal moves, built-in engine with 6 levels of strength, undo/redo moves, open and save games, etc.
No third party engine plug-in, developer's web site not accessible.
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Online Chinese Chess

These are a few choices for playing Chinese Chess online straight in a web browser:

  • Coffee Chinese Chess gives you a good browser-based experience in playing against a computer opponent without the need to install any software. You can just go straight to the site, choose your pieces and play the game right away.
  • ChessWhiz, a web client which is open source and based on Adobe Flex, allows you to log in as Guest or enter your username, then join a table to observe the game or play Xiangqi with humans on the Internet.
  • Chesscape, an online game running on Java, lets you register a free user ID with password, then log in either to practice game or select a table to start game among other members.
  • Playok.com - Xiangqi is also another option to play Chinese Chess with humans online, just log in with your member ID (free registration), select a set of chessmen and play among other members.

 

More Chinese Chess Engines

If you're looking for more Chinese Chess engines, you might want to check out this list of Chinese Chess engines which are compliant with the UCCI protocol and free for download. From the list, these are the top five strongest engines (based on a test conducted by H.G. Muller):

  1. Cyclone (commercial software, last free version 0.55)
  2. BugChess
  3. Binghewusi (Soldiers Creek 54)
  4. Kou (Cloud As)
  5. 3DChess

 

Related Products and Links

Both Chinese chess and Western chess share some proximate game rules with Japanese chess (Shogi) after evolving from games of ancient Indian and Persian origin.

Other than that, you might want to check out these board games too:

 

Editor

This category is maintained by volunteer editor Jojo Yee. Registered members can contact the editor with comments or suggestions by clicking here. You can visit the Google+ profile page of Jojo Yee here.

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