Chinese Chess (Xiangqi) Is Awesome

Chinese chess is as embedded in Chinese culture than rice itself. The earliest findings of the game dates back third century BC. It spreads throughout most of Asia from Singapore, Vietnam, to South Korea. Its long history and gameplay makes this game addictive and fun.

At many of the parks in China, there’s a few groups of older men in several circles with their heads down as they watch two players squat with their chess board on the ground. Some of the game boards are cemented into the sidewalks for people to play. In Singapore, they had cemented tabletops. It’s almost always a heated game with moments of complete silence then sudden shouts and screams. Everyone passing by stops for at least a few seconds to watch the current situation of the game. Once the game is over, the players are high spirited with laugher and congratulating each other on their good game.

I learned that Chinese chess was one fantastic way to learn Chinese culture and interact with locals – even with the language barrier. I, too, stop to watch how the game is going whenever I pass by one. In my apartment, I own two sets. My friends and I have had a few nights of beers and chess (I know it sounds boring but it really is fun). There’s even a few iPhone/iTouch apps out there which has killed lots of time of buses and trains.

The rules are quiet simple. I learned how to play by only using the Wikipedia article as my reference. It’s much simpler if you know how to play international chess as some moves are similar. I find that Chinese chess is easier than international chess, more fun, and more intense.

After learning Chinese chess, I learned Mahjong which is as popular (In fact, the most widely played game in the world – perhaps due to population). I used Wikipedia again to learn this game.

Little girl playing Chinese chess
Chinese Chess (Xiangqi)
Chinese chess

18 Comments

  1. Adrienne @Shenventure on May 11, 2011 at 3:45 am

    I love the photo of the little girl! That’s great you’ve learned how to play chinese chess and mahjong. haha, i love the “flying king” in chinese chess. i’m not crazy about chess in general, but love mahjong! especially b/c of the tiles.

    • Michael on May 12, 2011 at 7:35 am

      Mahjong is great. Hasn’t been easy finding four people interested though. We found a few spots in the city that are designed to play just mahjong. Ordered a few beers, automatic table that shuffled and gave us tiles, and had a good time. I love it.

  2. Adrienne @Shenventure on May 11, 2011 at 4:45 am

    I love the photo of the little girl! That’s great you’ve learned how to play chinese chess and mahjong. haha, i love the “flying king” in chinese chess. i’m not crazy about chess in general, but love mahjong! especially b/c of the tiles.

    • Michael on May 12, 2011 at 8:35 am

      Mahjong is great. Hasn’t been easy finding four people interested though. We found a few spots in the city that are designed to play just mahjong. Ordered a few beers, automatic table that shuffled and gave us tiles, and had a good time. I love it.

  3. Thomas Aylmer on May 11, 2011 at 6:33 am

    Yes, I really like Chinese chess as well. It’s provided a lot of entertainment for us. It is definitely a game that makes you think, and not for the weak minded. Good times! Look forward to more in our couple months we have left.

    • Michael on May 12, 2011 at 7:32 am

      For sure! Glad we learned it.

  4. Thomas Aylmer on May 11, 2011 at 7:33 am

    Yes, I really like Chinese chess as well. It’s provided a lot of entertainment for us. It is definitely a game that makes you think, and not for the weak minded. Good times! Look forward to more in our couple months we have left.

    • Michael on May 12, 2011 at 8:32 am

      For sure! Glad we learned it.

  5. Peter Heck on May 12, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Very cool, never even knew this game existed. I’m looking forward to learning more and playing when I get the chance.

  6. Peter Heck on May 12, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Very cool, never even knew this game existed. I’m looking forward to learning more and playing when I get the chance.

  7. Alex on May 12, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Thanks for this article! I didn’t knew about the chinese chess and it looks like a fantastic board games. I need to find where to buy one of those know to really learn how to play!

  8. Alex on May 12, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Thanks for this article! I didn’t knew about the chinese chess and it looks like a fantastic board games. I need to find where to buy one of those know to really learn how to play!

  9. Shannon Mason on January 15, 2012 at 12:38 am

    Is this played the same way as the Americanized chess is played? 

    • Michael on January 17, 2012 at 8:51 pm

      Not quite the same. It’s got the basic concept of international chess but it’s definitely different.

  10. Shannon Mason on January 15, 2012 at 1:38 am

    Is this played the same way as the Americanized chess is played? 

    • Michael on January 17, 2012 at 9:51 pm

      Not quite the same. It’s got the basic concept of international chess but it’s definitely different.

  11. Michaela on November 11, 2012 at 11:14 am

    I used to know how to play Chinese Chess using a game board, but the actual tabletop game in your picture looks totally different!  I’ve only played Mahjong on computers and I didn’t realize you could play it any other way!  LOL!  I know, that’s bad. 🙂 

  12. Michaela on November 11, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    I used to know how to play Chinese Chess using a game board, but the actual tabletop game in your picture looks totally different!  I’ve only played Mahjong on computers and I didn’t realize you could play it any other way!  LOL!  I know, that’s bad. 🙂 

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