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Chinese Chess: An Introduction to China's Ancient Game of Strategy Paperback – August 15, 2003

4.0 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Tuttle Publishing; Reprint edition (August 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080483508X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804835084
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The game of Chinese chess, or 'elephant chess' as
it is known in Chinese, has been played for centuries.
Since, naturally, most of the books heretofore
published on this challenging game of strategy have
been in the Chinese language, the present book by
H. T. Lau renders a welcome service to another large
group of game-lovers the world over.
Explained with clear examples coupled with about
170 diagrams are the fundamental aspects of Chinese
chess - the board, the mode of movement and values of
the pieces, and the basic rules. The reader will note
that there are interesting variations on the Western
chess theme (although no prior knowledge of other
forms of chess are necessary for an understanding of
this book). Once the basics have been outlined,
standard opening strategies are explicated, as are
tactics for use once the game gets under way.
Strategies used with various combinations of pieces
commonly remaining toward the conclusion of the game
are described in a chapter devoted to the end-game,
which is perhaps the phase that the beginner should
master first. This section shows how a player with
seemingly few pieces left can win a game, and how a
player in what looks like a losing situation can force
a draw.
Eightly mid- and end-game exercises designed to
sharpen the player's skill are presented with answers
at the end of the book. Finally, two appendixes are
devoted to the elegantly constructed games found in
two classic seventeenth-century works on Chinese chess.
Here, then, is a book for both the novice and the
chess fan who wants to add to his or her repertoire
of fun.
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Format: Paperback
Well, it's a good book such as it is. I wanted to give it 3.5 or even 4 stars. I just didn't feel it delivered what it advertised.
The *tons* of recorded games in the appendices are great. The total lack of annotation is terrible. Perhaps many or most people don't need annotation, but the book was advertised as a book for *beginners* and I am in fact a total beginner, and I found the lack of annotation to be extremely unhelpful. I can't understand why many of the moves are made - and there are even a few games which end in resignation in which I don't understand why the player resigned. Now, like I said, probably many people don't need this explained, but I do, and if you think you would need these kinds of things explained, then this is not the book for you.
On the other hand the explanations of the various openings (8 openings and 8 responses are discussed) are quite good. Again, they will seem high-level to a total beginner like me. There are a lot of things it is assumed you will understand which you might not understand. But still, if you have a board in front of you and play through the moves as you go through the discussion, you will be at least somewhat edified.
Unfortunately, the discussion doesn't really go in-depth. The openings and responses are given, and some comments like "red intends to attack the right side" or "blue is defending the central line" are given at the end of the listing, but no real discussion of the implications of the moves are given. Xianqui is a very tactical game - even more tactical than Western Chess because of the extreme importance of aggressiveness and sacrifice in the game. For that reason, I feel a more detailed discussion of the results of the various opening systems was in order.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was looking for a good book that could change someone who knows how to move the pieces into someone who knows how to move the pieces purposefully. This book is not it, but I also haven't found a better one either. Still, I will score it against an ideal that may be published later, rather than inflating its score because of the lack of alternatives.

The main problem is that this book does not really attempt to distill any understanding of the game in principles and demonstrate those principles with game examples. That is my idea of how a book teaching a game should approach its goal. What we have here instead is a bunch of move collections.

The book starts with the obligatory introduction to the game, its appeal, its rules, and the game notation. It next proceeds to openings where it quickly goes through the most important opening variations - just the moves, no theory or much commentary beyond who's doing better at the end of a variation. Next we jump to endings, which describe the material, the outcome, and then show the moves leading to the outcome, but again, with no higher level description of the tactical approach. The book ends with a collection of middle game problems followed by their answers. Then there are two important appendixes that contain the game collections from two classic old XiangQi manuscripts - moves, variations, no commentary - these account for about a quarter of the content. That is basically it. You're not really being provided with any insight, although, of course, you could derive some from studying all the material, but it's really up to you; the author has not bothered to provide you with much help besides collecting that raw material.

The only thing this book teaches you well is the game notation and how to read games.
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