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The board of Xiangqi
Xiangqi board, with pieces in their starting positions
Players 2
Setup time under one minute
Playing time Standard "home plays": around 1 hour
Blitz games: up to 10 minutes
Random chance None
Skills required Tactics, Strategy
Traditional Chinese: 象棋
Simplified Chinese: 象棋

Xiangqi (Chinese: 象棋) is a two-player Chinese board game in the same family as Western chess, chaturanga, shogi and janggi. The present-day form of Xiangqi originated in China and is therefore commonly called Chinese chess in English. The first characterXiàng here has the meaning "image" or "representational", hence Xiangqi can be literally translated as "representational chess". The game is sometimes called "elephant chess" after an alternative meaning of 象 as "elephant".

The game represents a battle between two armies, with the object of capturing the enemy's "general" piece.

Xiangqi has a long history. Though its precise origins have not yet been confirmed, the earliest literary reference comes from the 9th century.[citation needed]

Xiangqi is one of the most popular board games in China. Distinctive features of Xiangqi include the unique movement of the pao ("cannon") piece, a rule prohibiting the generals (similar to chess kings) from facing each other directly, and the river and palace board features, which restrict the movement of some pieces.

Besides China and areas with significant ethnic Chinese communities, Xiangqi is also a popular pastime in Vietnam.


[edit] Rules of the game

[edit] Board

Xiangqi is a common pastime in Chinese cities such as Beijing

Xiangqi is played on a board that is 9 lines wide by 10 lines long. In a manner similar to the game Go (Wéiqí 圍棋), the pieces are played on the intersections, which are known as points. The vertical lines are known as files, while the horizontal lines are known as ranks. With a few awkward substitutions, it is possible to play this game using a Western chess set.

Centered at the first through third ranks of the board is a square zone also mirrored in the opponent's territory. The three point by three point zone is demarcated by two diagonal lines connecting opposite corners and intersecting at the center point. This area is known as 宮 zh-gong1.ogg gōng, the palace or fortress.

Dividing the two opposing sides (between the fifth and sixth ranks) is 河 , the river. The river is often marked with the phrases 楚河 zh-chu3he2.ogg chǔ hé, meaning "Chu River", and 漢界 (in Traditional Chinese) or 汉界 (in Simplified Chinese) zh-han4jie4.ogg hàn jiè, meaning "Han border", a reference to the Chu-Han War. Although the river provides a visual division between the two sides, only a few pieces are affected by its presence: "soldier" pieces have an enhanced move after crossing the river, while "elephant" pieces cannot cross.

The starting points of the soldiers and cannons are typically marked with small crosses, but not all boards have these marks.

[edit] Play

The pieces start in the postion shown in the diagram above. Which player moves first has varied throughout history, and also varies from one part of China to another. Some Xiangqi books state that the black side moves first; others state that the red side moves first. Also, some books may refer to the two sides as north and south; which direction corresponds to which color also varies from source to source. Generally, red goes first in most modern formal tournaments.[1]

Each player in turn moves one piece from the point it occupies to another point. Generally pieces are not permitted to move through a point occupied by another piece. A piece can be moved onto a point occupied by an enemy piece, in which case the enemy piece is "captured" and removed from the board. A player cannot capture one of his own pieces. Pieces are never "promoted" (converted into other pieces), although the pawn/soldier is able to move sideways after it crosses the river.

Generally all pieces capture using their normal moves. Some pieces have special moves or capture moves, as described below.

"Checkmate!" (assuming the cannon is safe) Note that the horse is not actually needed for this to be checkmate.

The game ends when one player captures the other's general. When the general is in danger of being captured by the enemy player on his next move, the general is "in check" (將 (trad.) / 将 (simp.) zh-jiang1.ogg jiāng. A check should be announced. If the general's player can make no move to prevent the general's capture, the situation is called "checkmate" (將軍 (trad.) / 将軍 (simp.)).

Under some sets of rules, if the general is not actually taken for some reason, the other player does not lose and can continue playing.[citation needed] Under other rules, it is sufficient to reach checkmate.

A player with no legal moves left loses. In Xiangqi, a player (often with material or positional disadvantage) may attempt to check or chase pieces in a way that the moves fall in a cycle, forcing the opponent to draw the game. The following special rules are used to make it harder to draw the game by endless checking and chasing (regardless of whether the positions of the pieces are repeated or not):

  • The side that perpetually checks with one piece or several pieces will be ruled to lose under any circumstances unless he or she stops the perpetual checking.
  • The side that perpetually chases any one unprotected piece with one or more pieces will be ruled to lose under any circumstances unless he or she stops the perpetual chasing. Chases by generals and soldiers are allowed however.[2]
  • If one side perpetually checks and the other side perpetually chases, the perpetually checking side has to stop or be ruled to lose.
  • When neither side violates the rules and both persist in not making an alternate move, the game can be ruled as a draw.
  • When both sides violate the same rule at the same time and both persist in not making an alternate move, the game can be ruled as a draw.

Different sets of rules set different limits on what is considered "perpetual". For example, Club Xiangqi rules allow a player to check/chase six consecutive times using one piece, twelve times using two pieces, and eighteen times using three pieces before considering the check/chase a perpetual check/chase..[2]

The above rules to prevent perpetual checking and chasing are popular, but they are by no means the only rules. There are a large number of confusing end game situations.[3]

[edit] Pieces

[edit] General

The generals
General and advisors

The generals are labelled with the Chinese character 將 (trad.) / 将 (simp.) zh-jiang4.ogg jiàng (general) on the black side and 帥 (trad.) / 帅 (simp.) zh-shuai4.ogg shuài (marshal) on the red side. Legend has it that originally the pieces were known as emperors, but when an emperor of China heard about the game, he executed two players for "killing" or "capturing" the emperor piece. Future players called them generals instead.

The general starts the game at the midpoint of the back edge (within the palace). The general may move one point either vertically or horizontally, but not diagonally. The general cannot leave the palace except to perform the "flying general" move.

If the two generals face one another on the same file with no other pieces between them, the "flying general" move can be made—one general moves across the board and captures the other.

[edit] Advisor

The advisors

The advisors (also known as guards or ministers, and less commonly as assistants, mandarins, or warriors) are labelled 士 zh-shi4.ogg shì ("scholar", "gentleman", "officer") for black and 仕 zh-shi4.ogg shì ("scholar", "official") for red. Rarely, sets use the character 士 for both colours.

The advisors start to the sides of the general. They move one point diagonally and may not leave the palace, which confines them to five points on the board. They serve to protect the general.

The advisor is probably derived from the mantri in Chaturanga, like the queen in Western chess.

[edit] Elephant

The elephants

The elephants are labelled 象 xiàng (elephant) for black and 相 xiàng (minister) for red. They are located next to the advisors. These pieces move exactly two points diagonally and may not jump over intervening pieces. If an elephant is blocked by an intervening piece, it is known as "blocking the elephant's eye" (塞象眼). They may not cross the river; thus, they serve as defensive pieces

Because of an elephant's limited movement, it can be easily trapped or threatened. Typically the two elephants will be used to defend each other.

The Chinese characters for "minister" and "elephant" are homophones (zh-xiang4.ogg Listen) and both have alternative meanings as "appearance" or "image". However, both are referred to as elephants in the game.

[edit] Horse

The horses
The red horse may take the black horse, but the black horse cannot take the red horse because its movement is obstructed by another piece
Green moves are legal; red ones are illegal because another piece is obstructing the movement of the horse

The horses are labelled 馬 zh-ma3.ogg for black and 傌 zh-ma4.ogg for red in sets marked with Traditional Chinese characters and 马 for both black and red in sets marked with Simplified Chinese characters. Some traditional sets use 馬 for both colours. They begin the game next to the elephants. A horse moves one point vertically or horizontally and then one point diagonally away from its former position. It is important to note that the horse does not jump as the knight does in Western chess. Thus, if there were a piece lying on a point one point away horizontally or vertically from the horse, then the horse's path of movement is blocked and it is unable to move in that direction. Note, however, that a piece two points away horizontally or vertically or a piece a single point away diagonally would not impede the movement of the horse. A blocked horse is also known as "hobbling the horse's leg" (蹩馬腿). The diagram on the left illustrates the horse's movement.

Since horses can be blocked, it is sometimes possible to trap the opponent's horse. It is possible for one player's horse to attack the opponent's horse while the opponent's horse is blocked from attacking, as seen in the diagram on the right.

[edit] Chariot

The chariots

The chariots are labelled 車 for black and 俥 for red in sets marked with Traditional Chinese characters and 车 for both black and red in sets marked with Simplified Chinese characters. Some traditional sets use 車 for both colors. All of these characters are pronounced as zh-ju1.ogg . The chariot moves and captures vertically and horizontally any distance, and may not jump over intervening pieces. The chariots begin the game on the points at the corners of the board. The chariot is considered to be the strongest piece in the game.

The chariot is sometimes known as the "rook" by English speaking players, since it is like the rook in Western chess. Chinese players (and others) often call this piece a "car", since that is one modern meaning of the character 車. (The character 車 represents a top view of the box and wheels of a horsedrawn chariot; the vertical line is the axle, and the top and bottom horizontal lines are the two wheels.)

[edit] Cannon

The cannons
The long-range threat of the cannon

The cannons are labelled 砲 zh-pao4.ogg pào for black and 炮 pào for red. They are homophones.

pào means a "catapult" for hurling boulders. pào means "cannon". The 石 shì radical of 砲 means 'stone', and the 火 huǒ part of 炮 means 'fire'. However, both are referred to as cannon in the game.

In Xiangqi, each player has two cannons. The cannons start on the row behind the soldiers, two points in front of the horses. Cannons move like the chariots, horizontally and vertically, but capture by jumping exactly one piece (whether it is friendly or enemy) over to its target. When capturing, the cannon is moved to the point of the captured piece. The cannon may not jump over intervening pieces if not capturing another piece. The piece which the cannon jumps over is called the 炮臺 (trad.) / 炮台 (simp.) pào tái ("cannon platform"). Any number of unoccupied spaces may exist between the cannon and the cannon platform, or between the cannon platform and the piece to be captured, including no spaces (the pieces being adjacent) in both cases. Cannons are powerful at the beginning of the game when platforms are plentiful, and are typically used in combination with chariots to effect checkmate. They can also take a horse immediately, however this is not a popular strategy, since the cannon can get taken right away by a chariot. There is also a strategy where both cannons of one side group in front of the opposing general along with a cannon platform. This is unavoidable unless the general can move out of the way, or another piece can take out the back cannon.

[edit] Soldier

The soldiers

Each side has five soldiers, labelled 卒 zh-zu2.ogg (pawn/private) for black and 兵 zh-bing1.ogg bīng (soldier) for red. Soldiers are placed on alternating points, one row back from the edge of the river. They move and capture by advancing one point. Once they have crossed the river, they may also move (and capture) one point horizontally. Soldiers cannot move backward, and therefore cannot retreat; however, they may still move sideways at the enemy's edge.

The soldier is sometimes known as the "pawn" by English speaking players, since it is similar to that piece in Western chess.

[edit] Approximate relative values of the pieces

Piece Point(s)
The soldiers Soldier before crossing the river 1
The soldiers Soldier after crossing the river 2
The advisors Advisor 2
The elephants Elephant 1 - 2
The horses Horse 4 - 5
The cannons Cannon 4 - 5
The chariots Chariot 9

These advisory values do not take into account positional advantages. For example, the chariot at the corner in the beginning of the game is not very useful, but it can be moved to points where it affects the game much more, for example near the center of the board or the opponent's palace. Also, the value of a cannon drops as the game goes on due to having fewer platforms for use in capturing, while the value of the horse increases slightly due to fewer obstructions. Despite the chariot having the highest value of 9 points, it should be pointed out that often, players will, at certain game scenarios, value a cannon/horse on or exceeding the level of a chariot due to the piece's unique attack style. What's left on the board is also important to value of piece. For example, in a mid or late game, if red still has two chariots and black has one advisor left, that advisor is very valuable for black because it is very easy for red to checkmate with two chariots if black does not have an advisor.

[edit] Equipment

One player's pieces are usually painted red (or, less commonly, white), and the other player's pieces are usually painted black (or, less commonly, blue or green).

Xiangqi pieces are represented by disks marked with a Chinese character identifying the piece and painted in a colour identifying to which player the piece belongs. Modern pieces are usually made with plastic, though some sets use pieces made of wood, and more expensive sets may use pieces made of jade. In more ancient times, many sets were simple unpainted woodcarvings; thus, to distinguish between the pieces of the two sides, most corresponding pieces use characters that are similar but vary slightly between the two sides.

The oldest Xiangqi piece found to date is in Henan Provincial Museum - a 俥 piece.

In Mainland China, most sets still use traditional characters for the pieces.

[edit] Notation

There are several types of notation used to record Xiangqi games. In each case the moves are numbered and written with the same general pattern.

  1. (first move) (first response)
  2. (second move) (second response)

. .

It is clearer but not required to write each move pair on a separate line.

[edit] Notational system 1

The book The Chess of China[4] describes a notational system of absolute positional references in which the ranks of the board are numbered 1 to 10 from closest to farthest away, followed by a digit 1 to 9 for files from right to left. Both values are relative to the moving player. Moves are then indicated as follows:

[piece name] ([former rank][former file])-[new rank][new file]

Thus, the most common opening in the game would be written as:

  1. 炮 (32)–35, 馬 (18)–37

[edit] Notational system 2

A notational system partially described in A Manual of Chinese Chess[5] and used by several computer software implementations describes positions in relative terms as follows:

[single-letter piece abbreviation][former file][operator indicating direction of movement][new file, or in the case of purely vertical movement, number of ranks traversed]

The file numbers are counted from each player's right to each player's left.

In case there are two identical pieces in one file, symbols + (front) and - (rear) are used instead of former file number. Direction of movement is indicated via an operator symbol. A plus sign is used to indicate forward movement. A minus sign or hyphen is used to indicate backwards movement. A dot or period or equal sign is used to indicate horizontal or lateral movement. If a piece (such as the horse or elephant) simultaneously moves both vertically and horizontally, then the plus or minus sign is used rather than the period.

Thus, the most common opening in the game would be written as:

  1. C2.5 H8+7

The single letter piece abbreviations are

Piece Initial(s)
The advisors Advisor A
The cannons Cannon C
The chariots Chariot R*
The elephants Elephant E
The generals General G
The horses Horse H
The soldiers Soldier S

*for Rook, because using C would conflict with the letter for Cannon

[edit] Notational system 3 (unofficial, for players of Western Chess)

Letters are used for files and numbers for ranks. File "a" is on Red's left and rank "1" is nearest to Red. A point's designation does not depend on which player moves; for both sides "a1" is the lowest left point from Red's side.

[single-letter piece abbreviation][former position][capture indication][new position][check indication][analysis]

Pieces are abbreviated as for system 2, except that no letter is used for the soldier.

Former position is only indicated if necessary to distinguish between two identical pieces that could have made the move. If they share the same file, indicate which rank moves; if they share the same rank, indicate which file moves.

Capture is indicated by "x". No letter is used to indicate a non-capturing move.

Check is indicated by "+", double check by "++" and triple check by "+++". Checkmate is indicated by "#".

For analysis purposes, bad moves are indicated by "?" and good moves by "!". These can be combined if the analysis is uncertain ("!?" might be either but is probably good; "?!" is probably bad) or repeated for emphasis ("??" is a disaster).

Thus, the most common opening in the game would be written as:

  1. Che3 Hf7

An example of a brief game ("the early checkmate") is

  1. Cbe3 Che7?
  2. Ch5 Cb4??
  3. Cxe6+! Cxe4??
  4. Ce5#

a b c d e f g h i

After the described notation:
Black is mated and therefore loses the game..

[edit] Gameplay

Because of the size of the board and the low number of long-range pieces, there is a tendency for the battle to focus on a particular area of the board.

[edit] Tactics

a b c d e f g h i

Triple check:
Red moves his horse from e5 to d7, giving check and exposing a double check from chariot and cannon.

There are several tactics common to games in the chess family, including Xianqgi. Some common ones are briefly discussed here, see Chess tactics for more details.

  • Fork: When one enemy piece attacks more than one piece simultaneously, they are forked.
  • Pin: A piece is pinned when it cannot be moved without exposing another more important piece to be captured.
  • Skewer: A piece is skewered when it is attacked and, on moving, exposes another less important piece to be captured.

Particular to Xiangqi is triple check, where three pieces simultaneously threaten the enemy general. This usually arises with a cannon, a chariot, and a horse. The horse moves to give check uncovering a double check from the chariot and the cannon, which uses the chariot as a platform.

Common tactics in Xiangqi

a b c d e f g h i

Fork:The horse moves to d5, forking an enemy soldier and chariot.

a b c d e f g h i

Pin:The chariot moves to e5, pinning the enemy cannon which cannot move without exposing the general.

a b c d e f g h i

Skewer:The chariot moves to e5, skewering the enemy general. When it moves, the enemy chariot can be taken.

[edit] Use of pieces

Usually, the soldiers do not support each other unless the player has no better move. This is because from the initial position, it takes a minimum of 5 moves of a soldier to allow twin soldiers to protect each other.

The two chariots are not normally lined up together as they are the most powerful piece and in doing so, a player risks the chances of losing at least one chariot to an inferior piece of the enemy. Depending on the situation, it may be advantageous to position a chariot at one of the corners of the enemy's side of the board, where it is very difficult to dislodge, and threatens the enemy general.

It is common to use the cannons independently to control particular ranks and files. Using a cannon to control the middle file is often considered vital strategy, because it helps to lock certain pieces such as the advisors and elephants in certain positions to prevent a check. The two files adjacent to the middle rank are also considered important and horses and chariots can be used to push for checkmate here.

However, the two cannons on the same file is also a powerful formation. For example, the rear cannon threatens the general; moving a piece in front of the cannons to block the attack does not work, because then the front cannon will still attack the general.

A 'common defensive configuration is to leave the general at his or her starting position, deploy one advisor and one elephant on the two points directly in front of the general, and to leave the other advisor and the other elephant in their starting positions, to the side of the general. In this setup, the paired-up advisors and elephants support each other, and the general is immune from attacks by cannons. However, with the loss of a single advisor or elephant, the general becomes vulnerable to cannons, and this setup may need to be abandoned. The defender may move advisors or elephants away from the general, or even sacrifice them intentionally, to ward off attack by a cannon.

[edit] Openings

a b c d e f g h i

Dāng tóu pào:
Red moves his cannon over from h3 to e3.
(Noted as "炮(32)–35" or "C2.5")

a b c d e f g h i

Mǎ lái tiào:
Black moves his horse out from h10 to g8
(Noted as "馬(18)–37" or "H8+7")

Since the left and right flank of the starting setup are symmetrical and therefore equivalent, it is customary to always make the first move from the right flank. Starting on the left flank is considered to be needlessly confusing.

The most common opening is to move the cannon to the central column, an opening known as 當頭炮 (trad.) / 当头炮 (simp.) dāng tóu pào. The most common reply is to advance the horse on the same flank. Together, this move-and-response is known by the rhyme 當頭炮,馬來跳 (trad.) / 当头炮,马来跳 (simp.) zh-dang1tou2pao4_ma3lai2tiao4.ogg dāng tóu pào, mǎ lái tiào. The notation for this is "1. 炮 (32)–35, 馬 (18)–37" or "1. C2.5 H8+7". See also the diagrams to the right.

This is usually followed by the most common second move, 出車 (trad.) / 出车 (simp.) chū jū—"chariot sortie"—in which the first player moves a chariot forward one space (usually the right one - moving the left one loses the horse, but you can reply by trapping the cannon with your chariots).

The most common reply is to move the right advisor diagonally. 上士 shàng shì. This is to prevent a series of events that leads to the first player quickly checkmating the second.

Less common first moves include:

  • moving an elephant to the central column
  • advancing the soldier on the third or seventh file
  • moving a horse forward
  • moving either cannon behind the 2nd soldier from the left or right

General advice for the opening includes rapid development of at least one chariot, because it is the most powerful piece and the only long-range piece besides the cannon. It may not be a bad move to develop one horse to the edge of the board, for example, to avoid being blocked by one of one's own soldiers that cannot advance. Usually, at least one horse should be moved to the middle.

[edit] History

Xiangqi has a long history. Though its precise origins have not yet been definitely confirmed, the earliest indications reveal the game may have been played as early as the 4th century BC, by Tian Wen (田文), the Lord of Mengchang (孟嘗君) for the state of Qi, during the Warring States Period. (See chess in early literature or timeline of chess.) Judging by its rules, Xiangqi was apparently closely related to military strategists in ancient China. The ancient Chinese game of Liubo may have had an influence as well.

The word Xiàngqí's meaning "elephant game" can also be treated as meaning "constellation game". Sometimes the xiàngqí board's "river" is called the "heavenly river", which may mean the Milky Way; previous versions of xiàngqí may have been based on the movements of sky objects.

During the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period, wars were fought for years running. A new strategy board game was patterned after the array of troops (according to a hypothesis by David H. Li, this was developed by Han Xin in the winter of 204 BC-203 BC to prepare for an upcoming battle). This was the earliest form of Xiangqi.

During the Cao Wei, Jin and Northern and Southern Dynasties, a kind of strategy game was popular among the people. It laid a foundation for the finalized pattern of Xiangqi. In ancient times, both highbrows and lowbrows enjoyed Xiangqi.

During the reign of Suzong of the Tang Dynasty, Prime Minister Niu Sengru wrote a fictional story about Xiangqi. That occurred during the Baoying period, so it was named Baoying. Baoying had six pieces and produced a significant influence on Xiangqi in subsequent years.

Three forms of the game took shape after the Song Dynasty. One of them consisted of 32 pieces. They were played on a board with 9 vertical lines and 9 horizontal lines. Popular in those days was a board without a river borderline; the Korean game of janggi is derived from this earlier riverless version. The river borderline was added later, and this form of the game has lasted to the present day.

With the economic and cultural development during the Qing Dynasty, Xiangqi entered a new stage. Many different schools of circles and players came into prominence. With the popularization of Xiangqi, many books and manuals on the techniques of playing the game were published. They played an important role in popularizing Xiangqi and improving the techniques of play in modern times.

A Western-style Encyclopedia of Chinese Chess Openings was not written until 2004.

The chess historian Harold James Ruthven Murray wrote that Chinese chess arose as a modification of the chess that spread from India (see History of chess), and that in China it took over the board and name of a game called 象棋 in the sense of "Constellation Game" (rendered by Murray as "Astronomical Game"), which represented the apparent movements of naked-eye-visible astronomical objects in the night sky, and that the earliest Chinese references to 象棋 meant the Astronomical Game and not Chinese chess.

[edit] Modern play

[edit] Tournaments and leagues

Although Xiangqi has its origin in Asia, there are Xiangqi leagues and clubs all over the world. Each European nation generally has its own governing league; for example, in Britain, Xiangqi is regulated by the United Kingdom Chinese Chess Association. Asian countries also have nationwide leagues, such as the Malaysia Chinese Chess Association in Malaysia.

In addition, there are also several international federations and tournaments. For example, the Chinese Xiangqi Association hosts several tournaments every year, including the Yin Li and Ram Cup Tournaments.[6] There is also an Asian Xiangqi Federation[7] and a World Xiangqi Federation,[8] which hosts tournaments and competitions bi-annually, though most are limited to players from member nations.

[edit] Rankings

The Asian Xiangqi Federation and its corresponding member associations also rank players in a number format similar to the rankings of chess. The best player in China, according to the 2006 Chinese National Ratings, is Xu Yinchuan with a rating of 2628.[9] Other strong players include Lu Qin and Hu Ronghua.

The Asian Xiangqi Federation also bestows the title of grandmaster to select individuals around the world who have excelled at Xiangqi or have made special contributions to the game. Though there are no specific criteria for becoming a grandmaster, the list of grandmasters is limited to fewer than a hundred people.[10]

[edit] Computers

The game-tree complexity of Xiangqi is approximately 10150, so in 2004 it was projected that a human top player will be defeated before 2010.[11]

And in the Computer-Human Xiangqi Dual Meet in 2006[4], the final score was Computer 5.5 - Human 4.5

Xiangqi is one of the more popular competitions at the annual Computer Olympiad.

Computer Xiangqi Programs

Chinese Chess Soul [12]
Qianhong Xiangqi [13]
NEU Chess [14]
XieXie [15]
XQ Master [16]

Computer Xiangqi Servers

Hidden Lynx easy to use free Chinese Chess game for Windows [17]
Internet Chinese Chess Server (thai. und engl.) [18]
Play Chinese Chess online! [19]
Club Xiang Qi server with English/Vietnamese/Chinese[20]

[edit] Variations

Variations of the game have been created, such as Blitz games, Supply Chess and two variations "blind" chess.

In Blitz games, each player only has around 5-10 minutes each (depending on rules), leading to a fast-paced game with no room for thought and moves have to be made by instinct.

In Supply Chess, a team of two players plays against another team, with one person taking the black pieces and another taking the red pieces. Any pieces obtained by killing the opponent's pieces is given to the teammate. These pieces can be deployed by the teammate to give him an advantage over the other player, so long as he observes the following rules:

  1. The piece can only be on your own side
  2. The piece cannot cause your opponent to be in check

There have been instances of Blitz-Supply chess, but such competitions are usually friendly or small scale, as much criticism has arisen over these variations of chess. Players often use tactics such as rapidly exchanging pieces to force out a draw in blitz games.

In supply chess, one player often exchanges all his pieces with his opponent to allow his teammate to confuse his opponent with the large number of pieces on the board. Four cannons or chariots on the board would lead to an almost unbreakable control of key lanes, virtually assuring victory.

In blind chess, played by two, all of the pieces are jumbled, flipped so the character of the piece is concealed and placed on the squares on only one side of the river. The players assume a colour and take alternate turns. The object of the game is to capture all of your opponent's pieces.

At each turn, the player can do one of three things. They may choose to uncover a concealed piece, move one of their own pieces to an empty square (pieces can only move to an adjacent square and not diagonally regardless of its movement style in original Xiangqi) or they may choose to capture one of their opponents pieces. There are limitations for the last option however.

Each piece, although move the same way, has a "rank" that enables it to capture pieces beneath its rank. The general is the highest rank and can capture any piece apart from the soldier. The chariot can capture all other pieces apart from the general. The horse may capture all pieces apart from the general and the chariot. The cannon may capture the elephant, advisor and soldiers and the elephant may capture the advisor and soldiers. Soldiers, is the lowest rank but also one of the most important as it is the only piece that can capture generals (which is the most powerful piece in blind chess)

The game continues until one of the players has lost all of their pieces. Blind chess is mostly a game of luck as the player cannot choose where their pieces are set up. They can only increase their chances by moving pieces and uncovering appropriately, calculating the odds that the uncovered piece next to them can be friend or foe, superior or inferior. This game is more well known in Hong Kong than in mainland China.

A second variation of blind chess involves playing without a visible chess board. The players have to memorize the positions of the pieces on the chess board. A third person is occasionally asked to keep track of the game with an actual chess board in case of disputes. The players calls out their moves with four character notations in the format [piece name][former file][advance/retreat/horizontal][new file/ranks advanced]. For example, if a horse was in rank 3 file 3 and it was to move to rank 4 file 5, the notation used would be the Chinese words "horse 3 advances to 5". If a chariot was to move from rank 3 file 3 to rank 3 file 6, it would be "chariot 3 horizontal to 6". If a piece advances forward without changing file, the number of steps forward or back is used instead.

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Xiangqi: Chinese Chess ([1])
  2. ^ a b CXQ Chinese Chess Rules ([2])
  3. ^ Asian Chinese Chess Rules ([3])
  4. ^ Leventhal, Dennis A. The Chess of China. Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China: Mei Ya, 1978. (getCITED.org listing)
  5. ^ Wilkes, Charles Fred. A Manual of Chinese Chess. 1952.
  6. ^ From rec.games.chinese-chess FAQ #21 “What are some of the top tournaments in the world?”
  7. ^ Asian Xiangqi Federation homepage includes English translations of Asian tournament results, rules, etc.
  8. ^ World Xiangqi Federation homepage.
  9. ^ 职业棋手等级分-象棋资料-象棋网
  10. ^ rec.games.chinese-chess FAQ lists the International Grandmasters by country.
  11. ^ Yen, Chen, Yang, Hsu, 2004, Computer Chinese Chess.
  12. ^ Chinese Chess Soul
  13. ^ Qianhong Xiangqi
  14. ^ NEU Chess
  15. ^ XieXie
  16. ^ XQ Master
  17. ^ Hidden Lynx easy to use free Chinese Chess game for Windows
  18. ^ Internet Chinese Chess Server (thai. und engl.)
  19. ^ Play Chinese Chess online!
  20. ^ Chinese Chess server with English/Vietnamese/Chinese interface

[edit] Further reading

  • Lau, H. T. Chinese Chess. Tuttle Publishing, Boston, 1985. ISBN 0-8048-3508-X.
  • Leventhal, Dennis A. The Chess of China. Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China: Mei Ya, 1978.

(Out-of-print but can be partly downloaded on http://www.banaschak.net/index.html)

  • Li, David H. First Syllabus on Xiangqi: Chinese Chess 1. Premier Publishing, Bethesda, Maryland, 1996. ISBN 0-9637852-5-7.
  • Li, David H. The Genealogy of Chess. Premier Publishing, Bethesda, Maryland, 1998. ISBN 0-9637852-2-2.
  • Li, David H. Xiangqi Syllabus on Cannon: Chinese Chess 2. Premier Publishing, Bethesda, Maryland, 1998. ISBN 0-9637852-7-3.
  • Li, David H. Xiangqi Syllabus on Elephant: Chinese Chess 3. Premier Publishing, Bethesda, Maryland, 2000. ISBN 0-9637852-0-6.
  • Li, David H. Xiangqi Syllabus on Pawn: Chinese Chess 4. Premier Publishing, Bethesda, Maryland, 2002. ISBN 0-9711690-1-2.
  • Li, David H. Xiangqi Syllabus on Horse: Chinese Chess 5. Premier Publishing, Bethesda, Maryland, 2004. ISBN 0-9711690-2-0.
  • Sloan, Sam. Chinese Chess for Beginners. Ishi Press International, San Rafael, Tokyo, 1989. ISBN 0-923891-11-0.
  • Wilkes, Charles Fred. A Manual of Chinese Chess. 1952.
  • For a serious and updated reading about Xiangqi history: Andrew Lo and Tzi-Cheng Wang, ""The Earthworms Tame the Dragon": The Game of Xiangqi" in Asian Games, The Art of Contest, edited by Asia Society, 2004

[edit] External links

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