Xiangqi Clippings

Monday, October 31, 2005

Take a good look at this set of xiangqi. Can you tell of what are the pieces made?



To give you a little hint, all the chessmen are edible. 10,000 such pieces were specially made for an open tournament held at the Marine Parade shopping complex in Singapore during the mid-autumn festival this year.



Photograph above: the scene of Singapore's first ever Novelty Xiangqi Competition organised in conjunction with the mid-autumn festival cerebrations.

Some special rules unique to this competition (7-round Swiss 30-minute game) are:

(a) A brand new set of edible, individually and hygienically packed moon cake Xiangqi pieces for every game.
(b) On capturing an opponent's piece, the player is required to consume that captured piece of moon cake.
(c) All players are required to put on a new pair of disponsable gloves, provided by the organiser prior to the start of every game.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

An Annotated Game from the 9th World Xiangqi Championships

I want to test if Java chessboard can be used on blog page. The game posted here was played between Liu DianZhong, GM of China and Nguyen Vu Quan of Vietnam in round 6 of the recent World Championships in Paris. Thanks to IGM Zhao GuoRong for annotating the game.

In the commentary, the move number is tagged with r or b to differentiate the colour. So 11r means Red's 11th move, and 11b means Black's 11th move. The number within the blackets is the move number shown on the Java chessboard which counts the moves singly.





Among the opening systems for Red, the 5-9 Cannons is much favoured by players of aggressive style. It offers more variations with plenty of attacking opportunities for both sides. Having done some careful study before the match, GM Liu decided to play this opening. His intention is to seek better results by engaging the opponent in fierce contest.

11r(21) Red has several options: R8+6, C9+4, C5+4 are also playable.

11b(22) Another line of play is c2-1; R4-3, e3+5; R8+7, h8+7; R4-2, c7+1.

13b(26) An alternative is p7+1, then E1+3, c7=3; P5+1, p5+1; H7+5, r8+3; H5+6, r8=4; H6+7, r4+3; an equal position more or less.

14r(27) The usual continuation here is H3+4. "Seeing that my opponent moved pretty fast in the opening stage, and thinking that he might have done some homework about the usual line of play, I decided to make a detour and surprise my opponent with this unfamiliar move." explained GM Liu after the match.

14b(28) Certainly not h3+1 which leaves Red with Pawn majority after C5+4, e3+5; C5=9.

18b(36) Guarding the Pawn rank. Good move!

20b(40) r1=5 would be a blunder. C5=2, r8+4; H3+4 and good-bye to the black Chariot.

21r(41) Simple and effective. If H5+4, r8+2; R8=4, c3=5; -R=5, c5=2; Red would not be able to dominate the game easily.

22b(44) This costs Black the game. The right move is p7+1, with two possible lines of play as follows:

(a) H4+6, r1=4; H6+8, h8+6; H8+7, k5=4; Red has nothing to further his attack
and Black has a better chance with the ensuing h6+4 or h6+5.
(b) E1+3, h8+6;
R4-4, r1=3; R8=4, e7+9; and black has a slight edge.

23r(45) Winning a piece for nothing. However, capturing the Horse with the Cannon would allow Black to gain back a piece after p7+1, E3+1, r8+1 and in all likelihood draw the game.

23b(46) p7+1 will not save the day either. R8=4, r1=5; H2+4, p7+1; -R-1, p7+1; -R+1, r5+1; H4+3 and Red wins.

26b(52) Tougher would be r8=1, C9=8, r1=3, though being one piece down.

In the final position, Black resigns as he is helpless against the ensuing C9-4 or R8=4.

Commentary by IGM Zhao Guo Rong (China), translated by Felix Tan (Singapore)

China National Xiangqi Individual Championship

The championship is being held (from 28 Oct to 7 Nov) in Taiyuan, the provincial capital of Shanxi. I am making a trip there on 3 Nov. This blog (my first) is created so that if there are any interesting news for the xiangqi fraternity, I can post them quickly while on the move.

Following closely after the national championships, another major event - the first Xiangqi Culture Festival will take place on 10 to 12 November, at the city of Xingyang, in the neighbouring province Henan. The programs include a seminar on the history of xiangqi, a town planning exhibition of the "Chu-Han Border" district, a xiangqi competition at provincial level, and simultaneous display matches by xiangqi masters.