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The History of Chess Variants. A brief history of Chess variants from Chaturanga to the 21st century.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on 2021-04-04 UTC

I have this book and as an historian myself I am in close contact with Jim Png. We had a very long conversation just today. Coincidence. Jim Png is not saying that chess has been invented in China. I know that this issue is a complex one, too complex maybe for in hurry readers. What is explained here is that xiangqi had predecessors as a game, deep in ancient history. This is known and recognised by modern historians. What it is unknown is the relationship between these ancient mentions of xiangqi and the xiangqi that is known after Cen Shun story in the 9th century. Maybe it was another game, maybe not. The great merit of Jim Png is the meticulously collection of all testimonies from ancient Chinese texts and his trial to bring that to us. He does (because he is preparing another book) a work much valuable than many other writers have tried to do before him about Chinese Chess. And much more also that so many writers who are continuing to ignore a possible Chinese contribution just because they have once been told that chess had been invented in India and it cannot be otherwise.

Yes the connexion with liubo is puzzling and stimulating. Not only because the liubo board had a central "water" and there is a river in xiangqi. The rules of Liubo are still unknown, they are just guessed, and maybe more than one game was played with this material. There are 6 pieces per side, 1 being more important. There is 1 general and 5 pawns in xq. The liubo board is heavily marked, as the one for xq. Is that a coincidence or the trace of an influence? The fact that Janggi, which is not known before the 16th century, has no river is of course not a proof at all against a relation between liubo and xiangqi! Liubo disappeared just when xiangqi started to grow and this deserves some further studies.

I consider Jim Png as the person with the highest knowledge on history of Chinese games we have today.