If you were counting pieces in chess, say, one, two, three pawns, how would you do that in Japanese? Would you use ほん hon, ぽん pon, ぼん bon 本?

I am not sure whether this makes a difference: by counting I mean rather the material value than the actual wooden piece. A better example would be perhaps 3 vs 2 pawns or counting pieces in computer or online chess.

  • 1
    Can I make sure if you want to count 1, 2, 3... pawns i.e. counting 1, 2, 3 unit(s) of ポーン is 1っぽん、2ほん、3ぼん and so on (using kanji 1, 2, 3本...). Commented May 11, 2020 at 22:39
  • @kimi Tanaka I added some clarification to the question. Commented May 11, 2020 at 23:26

1 Answer 1


The most generic つ or 個 is used to count chess pieces (e.g., 1つ/2つ/3つ... or 1個/2個/3個...). They are not "long and thin" enough to use 本.

By the way, in shogi, pieces are flat, so serious players usually count them like 1つ/2つ/3つ or 1枚/2枚/3枚, but 個 is occasionally used by laypeople, too.

The same is true for computer chess/shogi.

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