Chinese Chess (Xiangqu) title
“The pieces are moved on the intersections of lines rather than on cells”

  Chess migrated from India to China in the 8th century, but there is some residual supporting evidence to conclude that it was imported from India in the 2nd century AD. The pieces, board and moves of the pieces are somewhat different from those used by Chinese Chess players of modern times. In the 9th century the Prime Minister of the Tang dynasty added two new pieces called Cannon to the game.

  The earliest publication on this game dates from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and this book contains a collection of 70 endgames and their solutions (published in 1522). Another book in 10 volumes and regarded as the second oldest in the literature was published in 1570 and contained 550 endgame examples with solutions provided.

Xiangqu Board

  In 1632 The Secret Inside the Orange was published by Jin-zhen Zhu. This book gives us a list of many complete games and 133 endgames. The Plum-Blossom Meter is a hand written manuscript by Zai-yue Wang which was printed in 1917 for the first time. The Chesmayne version of this game is played on a board of 10 x 9 cells. Each side has sixteen pieces.

  In this format it is more understandable and easily playable for western players. It is known as Elephant Chess in China. The Chinese use a grid of 9 x 10 lines for their board and place the pieces on the intersections of these lines, not inside the cells as in western Chess. The Chinese-Notation numbers the lines 1 to 9 right-to-left for player A and 1 to 9 right-to-left for player B and use the letters f for forward, b for back and h for horizontal.

  Therefore, C4b6 means that the Cannon on line 4 moves back six spaces, i.e., the notation indicates the name of the piece, the line on which the piece is located, and the direction in which the piece moves (f, b, h). A further complication of Chinese Chess is that each player have a notation for their side of the board. Chinese Chess is known as Hsiang-chi in China.

  It should be noted that the names of corresponding pieces of the opponents armies are in some cases different. The dividing area in the middle of the board is known as the Yellow River. The pieces are moved on the intersections of lines rather than on cells - this pattern being familiar to the Chinese from the game of Go, which was well known before Chess arrived from India.

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