Basic Xiangqi (Chinese Chess) Midgame Tactics 06 Discovered Attacks/Checks

Author: Jim Png from

Note: This article first appeared on

This article is the sixth article in a series of articles introducing the basic tactics used in Xiangqi (Chinese Chess). In this article, the author will introduce Discovered Attacks and Discovered Checks.

The article will be divided into the following sections:

What is a Discovered Attack/Check?

By definition, a discovered attack occurs when moving a piece will reveal another piece that is attacking. As the moving piece can also be used to attack, it often results in two simultaneous threats. The opponent would usually be unable to deal with both threats simultaneously, thus allowing the attacking party to make gains in the situation. It is a very potent form of a DOUBLE ATTACK.

If moving a piece results in a check, it would be called a Discovered Check. A Discovered Check is the most potent form of a Discovered Attack as the opponent MUST resolve the check.  

A Discovered Attack is called 闪击 (shǎn jī), while a Discovered Check is called 闪将 (shǎn jiāng). If material is captured, it is called 抽将 (chōu jiāng) or Capturing Material with a Discovered Check.

While capturing material may be the most commonly used purpose of applying a discovered attack/check, this tactic can also be used for various other purposes. For example, they can be used to disrupt the enemy's formation, increase one's initiative, block and halt enemy attacks, achieve a winning position, et cetera. Therefore, there are many more uses of discovered attacks other than capturing enemy material.

The concept of a Discovered Attack or Discovered Check is not alien to International Chess players.

Discovered Check is the Dive Bomber of the Chessboard – Reuben Fine

An introduction to Discovered Attacks/Checks is best started with the following example.



Why Discovered Attacks/Checks are more common in Xiangqi

Discovered Attacks and Discovered Checks tend to occur much more frequently in Xiangqi than in International Chess. This author believes that the phenomenon is probably due to the following reasons:

  • Pieces (Horse and Elephant) can be blocked in Xiangqi. For example, if a Chariot were blocking a friendly Horse whose scope included enemy pieces, moving the Chariot to attack another area would result in both the Chariot and Horse attacking.
  • The presence of the Cannon. When the Cannon attacks, it needs a cannon mount. If the cannon mount is a friendly piece, it can be also be used to attack such that a discovered attack is formed.
  • The bigger chessboard in Xiangqi and fewer impediments like Pawn Structures. As mentioned in an earlier article about the difference between International Chess and Xiangqi, the coefficient of firepower density was different. Xiangqi boards are much bigger (90 intersections vs. 64 squares), and there are no Pawn Structures in Xiangqi which may cause congestion such that it would be harder to set up discovered attacks/checks.

Indeed, the Cannon-Chariot combination is perhaps the most commonly seen tactical unit delivering discovered attacks or discovered checks. Another widely used combination is the Chariot-Horse combination.

Indeed, several basic kills make use of the tactic of a Discovered Attack and Discovered Check to achieve winning positions. The Detonating Mine Attack, White Horse Checkmate, Drawer Checkmate, et cetera are basic kills whose central theme is the Discovered Attack/Discovered Check.

Example 1: Resolving Checkmate threats and Turning the Tables




Example 2: Example of Setting up a Discovered Attack



Example 3: A variation of a Discovered Attack



  Example 4: Discovered Attacks/Checks leading to a kill

The following example was found in Basic Xiangqi Tactics by Cheng Mingsong. (3)





Discovered attacks and checks are a very potent form of Xiangqi tactics. If they are allowed to materialize, the opponent will suffer significant losses. Discovered checks force the opponent to react immediately. It is a commonly seen tactic in Xiangqi and a joy to watch.

Works Cited

1. 朱, 宝位. 棋牌入门丛书 象棋入门. 合肥 : s.n., 1994. 978-7-5337-0734-7.

2. 刘, 殿中. 象棋新编教程 象棋初学门径. 北京 : 北京体育大学出版社, 2000. 7-81051-484-9.

3. 程明松. 象棋基础知识丛书 象棋基本战术. 无出版地 : 成都时代出版社, 2006. 7-80548-428-7.

4. 刘殿中. 象棋新编教程 象棋中局战法. 北京 : 北京体育大学出版社, 2003. 7-81051-905-0/G.756.

5. contributors, Wikipedia. Xiangqi. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. [Online] Page Version ID: 1031515692, Jul 2, 2021. [Cited: Jul 8, 2021.]

6. 王, 贵龙. 象棋名词术语手册. 呼和浩特 : 远方出版社, 2000. 7-80595-652-9.

7. 黄少龙. 象棋入门初步. 成都 : 成都时代出版社, 2009. 9787807055228.

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