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Chinese Chess for Beginners Paperback – March 31, 2006

7 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Ishi Press (March 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0923891110
  • ISBN-13: 978-0923891114
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,413,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Spotnik on October 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book was not only an excellent introduction to the game, but after playing a number of games (and even winning some!) I found that I learned almost as much the second time through. The chief value of the book is the annotated games, but there are also some basic mating exercises that are helpful as well. It is also helpful if you have played Int'l Chess before as Mr. Sloan addresses some of the issues those players might have making the transition (e.g. the relative weight of material superiority). Even if you splurge for David Li's "Syllabi" down the road, this is still a worthwhile investment for the absolute beginner.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mikko Saari on April 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
Chinese Chess or Xiangqi is an interesting, fast-paced variant of Chess: similar enough to be fairly easy to learn, yet different enough to be interesting even to those thoroughly bored by Western Chess. It's clearly a game worth exploring, but books on the game are rather rare and hard to come by. Sloan's book is from 1980s and slightly dated, but the game hasn't changed, of course, so the lessons contained are still valid.

To be honest, the book could certainly be better. It does cover everything necessary: it introduces the pieces, explains the rules, explains strategy, has sample games... All good and well, yet the presentation could be clearer, the text a tad more captivating and I would really prefer if the sample games were included in their entirety. Still, it works, and to those who prefer reading books to reading web pages, this is still worth considering.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is an indispensable book for all wishing to learn Chinese Chess or to improve their game. There are so few books on Xiangqi (also romanized as Xiang Qi or Hsiang-K'i)available in English that any serious American player will end up purchasing all of them eventually, but I'll bet none will subsequently discard their copy of "Chinese Chess for Beginners" by Sam Sloan. I was already an experienced player of Xiangqi when I came across a copy of Sloan's book, but there were enough eye-opening tidbits that I went through it again immediately--then promptly bought a second copy so I could lend "Chinese Chess for Beginners" to friends interested in learning to play Xiangqi, but keep a copy on hand for ready reference.

I notice that "Chinese Chess for Beginners" has received a couple of unfair, negative and uninformed reviews, which might discourage interested readers--readers who might really benefit from Sloan's book before they proceeded to one of the more comprehensive introductions to the game by H. T. Lau, David H. Li, or another overview such as Tony Hosking's. Rather than add to the book's already detailed positive reviews, let me address the most patently unfair criticisms.

First, even though it will be necessary for continuing players to learn the Chinese characters used on the pieces, most especially if they plan to play online, Sloan does NOT employ any Chinese characters, but uses standard Western abbreviations throughout--such as R for rook, K for king--in all his diagrams. The reviewer who was "not impressed" that "Chinese Chess for Beginners" demanded "a knowledge of the symbols used in Chinese Chess" was clearly confusing Sloan's book with another.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By B. Jones on October 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
I taught myself to play Chinese Chess a couple of years ago after a visit to Philadelphia's Chinatown. My nephew (at that time 6 years old) was the only one brave enough to learn the Chinese characters with me, so I was looking for a book to help other friends and family members to learn the game. The presentation in this book is such that I cannot recommend it for that purpose.

The information in this book is good, it just isn't presented as well as the material deserves. If you just want to learn how the pieces move, check out the "xiangqi" (Chinese Chess) article on Wikipedia. That's how I learned, and it was much clearer and more concise.

The biggest problem for me was the use of a notation system that relies on relative data. Unlike the algebraic notation system I'm used to in Western Chess (which uses a letter to describe each file and a number to represent each rank, thus giving absolute grid reference locations,) the system Sloan employs uses an absolute number for each file and a second number (this one relative to the piece being moved) to describe rank positions and movement. This becomes confusing.

Originally published in the '80s (before desktop publishing) on a small scale, the layout of the book shows its age/budget. It looks like it was printed on a black and white newspaper press with very limited formatting options. More than merely aesthetically unpleasing, the limited formating sometimes makes it harder to parse out what the author is trying to get across. There's good information in the book, but you'll have to fight against the materials of the book to get it out.
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