The Moat Horse

This checkmate method is known as 卧槽马 in Chinese. I think it appropriate to highlight some background of its translation. In the mid 80s, the Asian Xiangqi Federation, started to look into the standardization of English translations of xiangqi terms. After much deliberation, a consensus was finally reached on the official translation of the seven pieces in 1995, during the 4th World Xiangqi Championships. The sub-committee in-charge also translated several scores of technical terms, compiling them into a bilingual glossary.

When a Horse reaches the spot right in front of the opposing base-Elephant, for example, a red Horse on the B31 or B71 spot, it is known as the Elbow Horse in the bilingual glossary mentioned above. I recalled that “Elbow Horse” was agreed upon for want of a better term. Since the 4th and the 6th files are called the “arm-pits” or “shoulders”, so in like manners, we compare the 3rd and 7th files to the elbows. The Chinese term 卧槽 literally means “horse lying in a manger”. However, common knowledge tells us that horses sleep standing. What is the true meaning then? For years, I have been searching in vain for an answer, until I learned a version from GM Xu Tianhong (Jiangsu). The word 槽 is referring to the moat built around ancient castle, and 卧槽 in this context means “arriving at the moat”. So the term conveys a sense of danger and emergency. This is, in my opinion, a convincing explanation, more battle orientated. Hence, “Moat Horse” substitutes “Elbow Horse” in this article.

Most textbooks describe this checkmate as having the Horse controlling the spots beside the opposing King, and then checkmate with another piece, usually the Chariot. In reality the Horse and the Chariot may switch roles in executing the checkmate.

AF: Chariot
I F: Horse

AF: Horse
I F: Chariot + the opposing Advisers
At times, a Pawn may replace the Chariot in the Intercepting Forces. For example, in the diagram above, remove the red Chariot; replace the Elephant at B70 with a red Pawn.

AF: Chariot
I F: Horse
You will observe that a red Cannon at B11, or B21 will also give checkmate — which is better known as the Horseback Cannon checkmate.

AF: Horse
I F: Chariot + the opposing Advisers
A Pawn at B61 will give the same result.

Below are two end games in which red wins using the Moat Horse checkmate.

If black instead of capturing the Horse moves up his King, red also wins by C7=4, smothered checkmate.