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Xiangqi (Chinese Chess) [World Xiangqi League]

[Xiangqi Board] Xiangqi means "elephant game" in Chinese. Xiangqi is the most popular board game in the world, with hundreds of millions of players! Xiangqi is recorded to have been played from at least the first century AD, and it is a close relative of the "International Chess" game originated in India and popular in Europe, America and elsewhere. Asserting the exact history of xiangqi and chess is difficult, as there exist some disagreements among the few historical texts and scholars. Xiangqi is most popular in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, Korea and Malaysia, but it is played in many other countries as well, with noted increasing popularity now in Europe and America.

Xiangqi is similar to other chess-type games, in that there are two opposing armies who face each other across a game board, with pieces similar to a Rook, Knight, Bishop, King and Pawns. There is no Queen, and there are a pair of extra pieces called Cannons. The two sides of the board are separated by a "river" (which impacts the moves of the Pawns and Bishops), and the King and his two "Counselors" must stay within the imperial "palace" grid at the center edge of the board. The pieces are marked in Chinese, with some pieces having different characters on each of the two armies! (See our Game Rules for more information.)

In 1632 Jin-zhen Zhu wrote one of the most important books on the game: The Secret Inside the Orange, which records many of the most important games to learn by serious students of the game. The book's title is based on the following legend:

There was once an orange field in which an emormous orange was grown.
When the orange was peeled,
it was found that inside two old men were sitting facing each other,
playing chess.

This account, and the complete games, are given in H.T.Lau's "Chinese Chess" book. You can purchase this book and other Xiangqi items at our secure storefront.

Xiangqi is pronounced something like "Shiang Chi" and is commonly romanized today as xiangqi or Xiang Qi, in the pinyin system. For a Chinese language lession, see our tutorial.

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