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It’s a game of strategy in China

June 9, 2009

Engrossed in technical moves which will affect their outcome, dozens of Chinese men, and women, sit on wooden boxes or stand around a wooden board, advising, thinking, yelling.

Sounds busy, sounds serious but in reality it isn’t. It’s Chinese chess or Xiangqi. A game of strategy, advances, retreats, captures — a war game. The game is as ancient as the country believed to have originated around the 4th Century BC, and it continues to have a solid following.

I found myself more attracted to the noise than the game itself. Men enthusiatically pointing and telling players where to move their pieces. Watching one of these games, trying to figure out what goes where, gave me an opportunity to take a few candid shots of a game being played behind a quiet temple in Xi’an. A place seldom visited by tourists but a hub for chess men.

by Cate

by Cate

Chinese chess pieces are large round disks giving players licence to slapped them down hard in an act of war and defiance; and takeover.

by Cate

by Cate

It’s a game for the ordinary person and the businessman, something to share with their comrades over a jar of tea and cigarettes. What’s even more interesting is that it has lasted this long despite revolutions, wars and computer games. Like Mahjong it’s a game that continues to thrive; a piece of Chinese culture that usually goes unnoticed by travellers.

Taking time to meander through side streets in Chinese cities like Xi’an is more pleasurable than disappointing. These are the places where tourists seldom go and locals continue on with their daily routine. Oblivious to the observer.

If you want to know more about Chinese chess click on this wiki link here: Chinese chess

Caffeinated Traveller

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6 Comments
  1. June 9, 2009 10:38 am

    hehehe… i cannot play mahjong 🙂

  2. sunflowerluv permalink
    June 9, 2009 7:08 pm

    looks enticing 🙂
    I like Mahjong a lot! used to play it on the ocmputer like addicted. But this chess one I don’t know. Might give it a try at some point. Embracing new cultures so to say.
    Beautiful post and photos!

  3. June 10, 2009 3:21 pm

    XiangQi is really a good mind game which involves many strategies, what if in many steps.

  4. June 11, 2009 1:23 am

    Lyla – me too but I’d like to try it out.

    sunflowerluv – I’m all for trying this game out, no matter how long it’s going to take. Thanks for the comments.

    rainfield – ahhh so you play? Perhaps you can pass on some beginner tips??

  5. Bear permalink
    June 11, 2009 12:29 pm

    I looked into Chinese chess and it is not a close relative of regular chess. It has extremely interesting rules in that some pieces cannot cross to the borad’s other side (the middle of the board has a “river”) for example.

    And … although each side has the same pieces, of course, they do not share the same name … so one has to learn twice as many piece names and symbols.

    All that being said … wouldn’t it be a great way to pass time with locals if one could join in on a game or two?

    And I find learning strategy to be quicker than learning a language 🙂

  6. Erica Johansson permalink
    June 17, 2009 4:37 pm

    I love reading about places like this few tourists know about. Thanks for another interesting post!

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