Xiangqi, also called Chinese Chess, is a strategy board game for two players. It is one of the most popular board game, and also is one of the official sports games in China. Now Xiangqi is one of the official games in the World Mind Sports Games.
Xiangqi is a kind of Chinese traditional culture, embodying the Chinese philosophy. "Life is such as Xiangqi, everything is such as Xiangqi", Xiangqi is the achievement integrating from generations of Chinese culture.

The meaning of the name

The word of Xiangqi is composed by two characters: “xiang” and “qi”. Xiang means elephant, and Qi means all the board games. It’s easy to understand why the ancient Chinese call it Qi, because it’s a board game.

There is a Mythological story. About 5700 years ago, the Yellow Emperor had an army composed of animals. And the elephant is the leader of the army, The ancient Chinese always used the word Xiang to replace the word army or war. So it means that Xiangqi is a board game about the war.


According to the book ‘Shuoyuan’ which was written by Liu Xiang in the first century BC, a game called Xiangqi was very popular in the aristocracy during the age of Warring States period (475BC to 221BC). From that time, the noble and the cultured person had to master four fields of acts:
A) Playing a musical instrument 
B) A board game (Bo Yi)
C) Calligraphy
D) Chinese painting

Huang Puzhi, a famous litterateur in 11th century, believed that Xiangqi had been invented in the age of Mythology by Yellow Emperor about 5700 years ago. At first, the game might be based on the movements of the universe. The pieces represented Sky, Earth, Sun, Moon and Stars.

Some others believe Xiangqi was invented in the Spring and Autumn Period (about 770BC to 476BC). At that time, Xiangqi had two kinds of pieces, King and 5 Soldiers. It was the same as in the basic Chinese army unit which had six persons.

According to the research of the archaeologists, the modern Xiangqi system began in the Tang dynasty (618–907 AD), and it was completed in Song dynasty (960-1279 AD). It has nearly a thousand years history.

Xiangqi Wisdom

Xiangqi is not only an intellectual game, but also reflects Chinese philosophy and humanistic wisdom.

Different from western chess, the Kings don’t go out of the palace, fully representing the Chinese political, military intelligence and the fighting style with ease. "Map out a strategy, winning thousands of miles away,"Xiangqi focus on the principles of Confucian thylosophy, focusing on trying fair means before resorting to force, reserving in action and gentle in the behavior. We can find the strategies including calculation deciding the success, rapid action after the observation of enemy, which also reflect the Taoism philosophy of moving naturally like the water.

The win or lose in Xiangqi represent the cultural meaning which intends to be victorious and have the courage to face frustration. Meanwhile, draw game is also a way for sending the Chinese traditional idea of harmony. In general, in the game of Xiangqi we can see the concept of stopping the use of weapons, seeking peace by war. Also it reflects the willingness of peace, stable and happy life.

Wisdom of Xiangqi tactics

The Xiangqi tactics is also chinese military thinking.Xiangqi is a board game for two persons, “Know the enemy and know yourself, you can fight a hundred Battles without defeat.” it is essential literacy for all players. Therefore, Xiangqi, is not just a sport, but also can cultivate character, improve military strategy, and is a useful attempt to understand the wisdom of the East.

Modern science has proven that Xiangqi can promote brain metabolism, slower body aging, and therefore have the fonctions of warding off illnesses and keeping fit.

Studying Xiangqi helps the students to improve the clarity, enhance their memory and judgment.

Today’s Xiangqi

Although Xiangqi originates from China, there are Xiangqi leagues and clubs all over the world. World Xiangqi Federation was founded in 1993 during the 3rd World Xiangqi Championship. With the expansion of Xiangqi in the world, more European, American and Australians begin to play this game.

In North America, the North America Cup Xiangqi Championship is hosted bi-annually. This November, the sixth NAC was hosted in New Jersey. Team Quebec took the 7th place in 16 teams. And the North America Xiangqi Federation was set up officially at the same time, after more than two years’ preparation.

In Canada, Xiangqi is regulated by Canadian Xiangqi Federation. In Quebec, Association Quebecoise de Xiangqi (AQX) was founded officially in 2014. AQX is the member of the NAXF.

Someone said: "If you want to know the taste of the pear, you have to taste it." You cannot know the unique charm of Xiangqi, if you don’t play it. Xiangqi is a kind of Eastern philosophy and art, it loads the history, culture and wisdom. We expect more friends to understand Chinese culture through Xiangqi.

Thanks to Confucius Institute in Quebec and Association Quebecoise de Xiangqi, who have given us the opportunity to taste Xiangqi!




Maintained by Peter Sung (宋德柔) e-mail: ptysung@yahoo.ca

Wechat (微讯) ID : ptystoronto