Wednesday, July 25, 2007

People's Daily on Xiangqi

Recently an article commenting on the game of Xiangqi was published by the prestigious People's Daily. We think it is of interest to our English language readers so we do the translation.


Ever since the 2007 "Qi Dou Xing Cup" National Xiangqi League put forward the new competition system of "Black wins when game is drawn, times compensation with bidding for the right to play Black", the controversy has never stop, and most recently Grandmaster Lü Qin openly opposed the system, this ignited a more intense debate.

In promoting the "Black wins when game is drawn, times compensation with bidding for the right to play Black" new system, the early intentions of Hu Ronghua, maker of these regulations were : eliminate strategic draws, passive draws and other "ugly draws", so that the ancient game becomes more attractive in competition.

To this new competition system, the supporters applauded it as a "self-help" for Xiangqi, while the opposition ridicules it as "self-injuring" for Xiangqi. Both sides having such widely divergent views, the reasons are mainly of two aspects: the first is that the new competition system was hastily put forward, without the much needed exchanges of views; secondly, people in Xiangqi circle are more or less influenced by modern society, Grandmasters do not mind maintaining their respective arguments in their own interest.

In the recent years, the Xiangqi development obviously presents two kind of tendencies: one is the influence and market attraction of the game continue to go downhilll; another is the development of Xiangqi caters to the market force, unceasingly making reforms for the market.

The continuous downtrend of the influence of the deeply popular Xiangqi, naturally will bring about wide reform according to changes of circumstance. However it is not so simple a thing to proceed to a well-judged and balanced reform. The Xiangqi issues are multiple and quite complex, they are not just about what some Xiangqi people self-believed of too much drawn games, of too little (outside) competing forces. Then, by simply reforming the system of competition in order to revitalise the declining development of Xiangqi, this is indeed impossible to put into realization.

Xiangqi has quite many draws, that is an undisputable fact. Nevertheless through thousands of years of development, it has also given us many famous games of classic standard. Why is it that nowadays drawn games are to be considered as "run-away rats"? The development of Xiangqi admittedly needs marketing, but relying on market does not mean always pandering to the market.

Xiangqi is a national cultural heritage, and in earlier days, numerous people loved Xiangqi, at one time a good number of Grandmasters became household names, well known throughout the country, this is a rich treasure for the whole of Xiangqi world. Yet, the Xiangqi circle in recent years bursts out from time to time with disputes, these not only affect the personal image of some Grandmasters, but also affect the image of Xiangqi as a whole. This situation can only makes one to feel somewhat painful and distressed.

Doing anything, one must consider the three fundamental elements of "timing,
circumstance and co-operation". In order to make Xiangqi prosperous today, putting aside timing and circumstance for the moment, it is as important to talk more about co-operation among people as well.


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