Going Oriental With Xiangqi

Xiangqi is Chinese Chess and has remained unchanged for hundreds of years. It is closely related to the Indian game Chaturanga. Most people believe Chaturanga to be the parent game although there are some who claim the opposite is the case.

The concept, pieces and moves are so similar that it is obvious that one is derived from the other. Most of the known evidence points to Chaturanga as the original game but so far there is nothing absolutely conclusive.

It is played by millions of people mainly in China of course. It is also played in many other Asian countries and by Chinese communities around the world. This variant is more similar to our chess than some modern variants like Hexes Chess. Maybe you would like to share an Amazing Xiangqi Tale.


Xiangqi has a long and storied history
Xiangqi has a long and storied history
Xiangqi is about 2,000 years old. People who claim that it is the original chess game have a couple of different theories as to how it came about.

Some say that it was inspired by the constellations, the stars in the sky. Astronomy was very important to the Chinese as it was to many ancient cultures.

Some say it was a game inspired by military warfare strategy and this makes sense. It may have come into being as a game based on the power struggle between the Han and Chu dynasties late in the 3rd century BC.


Xiangqi: Fancy taking on this Chinese Dragon?
Fancy taking on this Chinese Dragon?
The pieces move on points instead of squares. The points are intersections between horizontal and vertical lines. The board dimensions are 10 lines by 9 with a river in the middle dividing the board in two halves. Usually the two sides are Black and Red rather than White and Black as in Western Chess.

In Chinese Chess the King is called a General, the Rooks are called Chariots, the Knights are called Horses, the Bishops are called Ministers on the Red side and Elephants on the Black side. There is no Queen, the General has two Guards who protect him in the palace. Neither the General nor the Guards can leave the palace.

There is also a piece that does not have an equivalent in Western Chess. This is the Cannon and each side has two of these. Cannons are a bit stronger than Chariots.


Chess Variants: Check-mate in Xiangqi
The old masters have a mine of strategies
Just like in our game, the idea is to force your opponent to choose the lesser of two evils by attacking two pieces at once (fork). Or perhaps forcing an enemy piece to move to evade capture leaving a lesser piece behind it hanging (skewer).

Another idea would be compelling the lesser piece to remain under attack to protect a more powerful piece behind it from capture and in the process falling victim itself (pin).

Cannons are often used to take control of the central file in front of the General forcing pins on other pieces that step in to block attacks on the General. If a player can capture one or two of these defenders then he moves a little closer to checkmating the enemy General and claiming victory.


Chess Variants: Play Xiangqi
Play Xiangqi
You can play Chinese Chess in many places over the net. One of the better sites for example would be Xiangqi Club.

Or perhaps you would prefer to try the free Chinese Chess section over at Play OK.

Or you could see how things suit you over at Xah Lee.

Tell us Your Amazing Tale from Xiangqi History

Xiangqi is deeply woven into the fabric of Chinese life. It holds many clues to how China works. Growing and evolving over the last 2,000 years, it has seen all of the changes and events that have taken place in this country over that era. It can be properly described as a reflection of Chinese society. The history of Xiangqi is rich and intriging in the same way as the history of China itself. There must be a wealth of great stories and tales from Xiangqi history dating back through the ages. Do you have an amazing tale from Xiangqi's rich history?

Amazing Xiangqi Tales Left by other Lapocites

Click below to see Amazing Xiangqi Tales from other Lapocites...

Fairy Tale 
Some believe that Xiangqi was derived from copies of the Elegant Pastime Xiangqi Manual . Indeed, in the original version of the book, on its first page …

Xiangqi is the origin of Chess Not rated yet
Original Chaturanga, meaning 4 armies , has the same idea as Pachisi, played by 4 players. These can mutually interact in fighting the other players. …

Chinese Culture Not rated yet
Xiangqi was supposed to be originated from Chinese as military strategies by which time there had been official documents about the game. Earlier Xiangqi …

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Moving On

Chess Variants: Anti Chess
Chess Variant - Anti Chess
I hope you enjoyed this discussion. The history of these games are intriguing and are still shrouded in mystery.

Although it looks very different from our chess visually with the different style of board and pieces, structurally and conceptually it is remarkably similar.

If your interest was raised by that particular variant maybe you might like to learn about more of them. See what you make of antichess.