Xiangqi is a two-player Chinese board game originated from military strategies in the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States Periods, by which time there had been official documents about the game. The early-stage xiangqi was composed of three components: chess pieces, dice and board. The pieces were carved out of ivory, with each player having six pieces; before starting a game, the two players would play dice; and the board was a square chess board. After a long period of development, the modern form of xiangqi appeared in the Northern Song Dynasty and caught on in the Southern Song Dynasty.
There’s no dice in modern xiangqi. And the game is different from its ancient counterpart in terms of pieces and board. There are a total of 32 pieces in red and black, with one person taking 16 red pieces and the other taking 16 black pieces. The red side has one “marshal”, two pieces each bearing “advisor”, “elephant”, “horse”, “chariot” and “cannon” and five “pawns”. The black side has one “general”, two pieces each bearing “guard”, “elephant”, “horse”, “rook” and “cannon” and five “soldiers”. The “marshal” and “general”, “advisor” and “guard”, “pawn” and “soldier” of both sides have the same functions.
The board is 9 lines wide by 10 lines long, with a total of 90 crossing points. The grids formed are square. The pieces are placed and moved on the crossing points. The area dividing the two opposing sides with no vertical lines is called “the river” and the area with two diagonal lines connecting opposite corners and intersecting at the center point is called “jiu gong”. The two players conduct a representational military battle on the board by deploying horses and chariots and organizing troops based on their understanding of the layout the game and the playing rules.
Currently, Chinese xiangqi has been introduced to the whole world, giving a boost to the effort to carry on and develop traditional Chinese culture