Xiangqi, or Chinese chess. What is this archaic game from Central Asia?

Mental sports/Other
Chandler Lee
Xiangqi, or Chinese chess. What is this archaic game from Central Asia?
It takes approx. 4 minutes to read this article

Chess is very popular not only on the Old Continent. Asian society willingly practices the game Xiangqi, based on slightly different rules.

Board games – why are they so popular?

Games played on boards are one of the oldest forms of entertainment. Back in the day, when there was no computer or Internet and people didn’t even dream of electricity, we had to organize our free time in some way. As it turned out, board games are perfect for this purpose. Currently, the board games market is experiencing a kind of renaissance. Games of this type are back in favor, and many cafes have special areas where you can play your favorite board game in peace.

How do you play Xiangqi?

As with any game, also in the case of Chinese chess, anyone who would like to try their hand against an opponent during a game should first learn the main rules, and these, at least for a beginner, may seem complicated. In addition to the rules, you’ll also need a suitable game board. There are also many sites where you can play Chinese chess online.

Pawns and pieces in Chinese chess move in a slightly different way than we’re used to in traditional chess. They can only move on crossed lines. At the very beginning, each player has three rows of starting pawns and pieces. In the traditional version of chess, there is a queen. Here we do not meet her. She has been eliminated in favor of two additional advisors. Instead, there is a king, but he can rule only from the territory of the palace. And he is not called a king, but a general. Fortunately, he is not alone in the palace. Two advisors must be there with him; the same ones who appeared in the game instead of the queen. The game ends when the opponent’s moves are blocked or when the general is captured.

Chinese chess (象棋) always attracts the attention of new players. While learning, you can learn the basic rules and strategies…

Published by World’s Boards Thursday, October 15, 2020

What does a game board look like?

When you look at the game board of Chinese chess, it looks a bit like the one used in traditional chess. There are 10 horizontal lines and 9 vertical lines. Pawns and pieces can only move where these lines intersect. One glance at the game board is enough to notice that it is divided into two parts. There is a wide gap between them, which is supposed to mark the river separating the two enemy territories from each other.

What are the figures in Xiangqi?

Even if someone is not familiar with traditional chess, they are probably able to name the figures involved in the game. In the case of Chinese chess, one can find some similarities with traditional chess. There is a general (equivalent to a king), two advisors (these are guards introduced into the game in place of the queen), elephants, jumpers, towers, cannons and pawns. A general has a limited range of movement. He can only move one field in a straight line, but he cannot leave the palace. Counsellors, on the other hand, move diagonally, but also like a general, within the lines marking the palace. An elephant moves diagonally by two fields. A jumper is one field forward on a straight line and one on a slant. The tower moves on straight lines, as do the cannons. The riser to the river line moves one field forward. When it manages to cross the river, it can also move sideways.

Is the game of Chinese chess complicated?

The game of ordinary chess is not the simplest and requires a lot of training. From a European perspective, playing Chinese chess is a bit more difficult because it requires learning new game rules. However, once someone manages to master them, playing Chinese chess can bring a lot of joy. It is one of the best ways to develop logical thinking. So, if you have aspirations of becoming a brilliant strategist in the future, it is high time you start practicing your Xiangqi skills!

Featured Image: Wikipedia

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