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This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2016-05-03
 Author: Fergus  Duniho. Chaturanga. The first known variant of chess. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Jason L. wrote on 2011-06-17 UTC
EDITORIAL NOTE: Jason, I have excised a small part of your otherwise well-written discussion. What I have done is remove opinions on a non-chess topic. I understand people have strong opinions on many topics, but we get heated up enough about chess here, and site rules specifically state non-chess topics may be removed. I will do so when I feel it is in the best interests of the site. Should you or anyone wish an explanation of my decisions, please contact me at the email address listed on my person ID page. Joe Joyce, editor, TCVP ****************************************** I believe that Xiangqi originates from China, but I did not come here to say that the Persian and Indian versions are definitely copied from it. It's assumed in Western chess origin discussions, that Chess originates from India and that Far East Asian countries like China, Korea, and Japan all copied it. That's the assumption I am pointing out here as being a superiority thing. The truth is that Westerners play Western chess on an 8x8 board. Therefore, most would rather believe that the original game was the 8x8 game and not some 9x10 intersection game played in dirty Chinatowns all over the world. It's the same thing with Chinese people. They would rather believe that their game came first. Gives them a sense of pride. I talk to a lot of Chinese people about this, and they definitely prefer to believe their game is an original design. In more objective analyses on chess origin, documentation seems to support India, archeology seems to support Persian, and game design seems to support China. The game design aspects I have been repeating like a broken record because no one is acknowledging the really common sense things I am pointing out, support a Chinese theory but do not prove a Chinese origin. The British controlled all of India and Hong Kong is just a small part of China. India was Britain's crown colony. So it's not the same situation. The whole Xiangqi vs. Western Chess debate also extends into which game is more complex and well designed. I have met many Westerners who immediately bash Xiangqi as being a more simple game where the pieces don't move as far as the bishop and queen. Xiangqi also has an incompetent horse that can't even jump. Well, the average number of moves to finish a Chess game is around 40 and Xiangqi is around 47. The game tree complexity of Xiangqi is also about 20% higher, but these facts are not considered of course. It's because of the no-perptual check rule in Xiangqi that the game tree complexity is 20% higher which artificially inflates the complexity! Not because of the larger board of course. I don't know that much about archeology and documentation and what is considered legitimate, but I do have common sense, and anyone who plays these 2 games will feel that the Western chess game is more modern and evolved. That means newer! When teaching Xiangqi to Westerners over here, they feel that Xiangqi feels more archaic because the pieces are more limited. That implies that the game is older, and not newer. I am talking about the game design aspect of course. If 2 games are obviously related, the one with pieces that feels more archaic is probably the older game. If you look at Courier Chess (the German 12x8 game) it is obviously older than the modern version of the 8x8 game because of the limited movement of many of the pieces. Without knowing the history of Courier Chess and 8x8 Modern Chess, one can tell that Courier Chess is older. Why don't these common sense things apply to Xiangqi as well? Forgive me for repeating a broken record, but it is fairly well recognized that the best version of the 8x8 game was not finalized until the late 1400's when the modern queen and bishop were both used at the same time, and the final version of Xiangqi came about in the Song Dynasty which is about 500 years earlier. Based on this game development timeline of the 2 games, which game most likely came first? A game that finished its development 500 years after another one or the one that finished its development 500 years before? This is not rock solid proof, but it certainly suggests that the commonly accepted India origin may be suspect based on a game design point of view. So does anyone want to discuss the origin issue from a game design standpoint, or are you guys going to attack me personally for suggesting that this is a racist issue? Let's take the minister/bishop/elephant piece for example. There was a great deal of experimentation with this piece for around 1,000 years. There was the Silver General move, which exists in Shogi and Thai Chess, there was the 2 space diagonal jump move, and also a 2 space orthogonal jump for this piece. That means that between India, Persia, and Europe, it seems that we didn't know quite what to do with this piece before settling on the long range bishop. Now, the Xiangqi minister or elephant if you will, has always had that same exact movement which is 2 spaces diagonal and in the final modern version, the 2 ministers are placed on the same diagonal so they support each other. In Xiangqi history, the starting position and number of ministers changed, but not the movement as far as I know. So from a game design standpoint, if we assume the minister in Xiangqi and bishop in 8x8 chess have a common origin, which game was it originally designed for? A game where it did not undergo any change (movement wise) in its entire history, or a game where there were at least 3 different versions of it and didn't get fully developed until like almost 1,000 years later in Europe. The jumping bishop couldn't even capture its counterpart because the 2 pieces will end up jumping over each other. That doesn't sound like good game design to me. That seems like the piece was not designed for that board, so the movement of the piece needed to be changed. It needed to evolve into a piece that could move 1 or more spaces, so that bishops on the same diagonal could capture each other and not always jump over each other. One more thing about elephants. Please keep in mind that Xiangqi pieces originally did not have color, so the pieces were written with different Han Chinese characters to distinguish them. Xiang (Prime Minister) rhymes with Xiang (elephant), and the minister piece is supposed to simulate what a high level gov't. official does in his own countryside. It stays near home and doesn't go across the river to the other side. Who would design an elephant piece that was mostly defensive? War elephants are not defensive in real warfare. So the elephant debate does not apply to Xiangqi. Does anyone want to talk about game design and the evolution of pieces on different boards? I'm not here to try to present documentation of a Chinese source that Xiangqi 'does not' come from India. Such documentation does not exist probably, because no Chinese documentation would feel the need to say such a thing literally because they probably never considered the possibility. Just because Murray writes a big book on the Indian origin theory, doesn't mean I need to provide a Chinese source that says it's not the case that China copied India. I'm just looking at the bigger picture from another point of view. As I pointed out in an earlier post, the Chinese in general do not say that the West copied chess from them, but just feel Xiangqi is their own game. But the reverse is not true. The common notion in the West is that Xiangqi comes from India as do all forms of chess. I'm not even saying that India and Persia copied China. I'm just saying that Xiangqi seems to be older for a lot of common sense reasons.