Mr. Wen Zhu（文竹）is the "Godfather of Xiangqi in Hunan Province", he once became obsessed with Xiangqi, and "loved the game very deeply".
When Hunan's Xiangqi started to take off, out of his pocket, he personally sponsored the Provincial Xiangqi Tournament, trained a group of excellent players, and personally leading the "Hunan Troop" to compete across the country, aiming to build up a professional team. He loved the game and was willing to devote his life to it.
"Loved very much the game"
Spring rain was incessantly long, wet clothes and wet shoes, wet everything. In the Hunan Old Staff College on Rongyuan Road in the City of Changsha, a plaque with the engraved words "Hunan Xiangqi Team Training Centre" hangs in front of a building. Pushing the door open and getting in, once inside, the sound of raining gradually subsided. The visitor heard the crisp sound of wooden blocks clashing against one another ~~ inevitably Wen Zhu was playing Xiangqi with a retired old colleague.
Here was the 45-year-old Wen Zhu, with slightly gray hair on his sideburns. He was thoughtful, yet he seemed to play his move casually. In between the small areas of the chessboard, it's a chess game and it's a life.
Mr. Wang Runan (王汝南), former president of the Chinese Qi Yuan, bluntly said, "Wen Zhu changed the Hunan Xiangqi scene."
At the end of the game he had just finished, Wen Zhu poured a cup of tea for the guest and himself, and talked about his bond with Xiangqi.
Wen Zhu is a native of Fengyang, Hunan Province, the family have been farming for generations. He remembered people in the village liked to play Xiangqi in front of their houses or under the shade of a large tree, and there were always crowd of adults and children around them.
Thus Wen Zhu, who was not yet at school, already had some understanding of the move of the pieces. At the age of eight or nine, Wen Zhu became much efficient in the game, and began to be really fascinated by it.
"At that time, I used to get money from my parents, and then pick up a tractor which was passing by, got into it and went to the county seat more than 20 kilometers away just to buy a chess book to study, in this way I did spend a lot of money. Because I jumped on and off from tractors on the way to the city, I fell down from these kind of transportation several times, once breaking the ankle and had to recuperate for a few months at home, I was not deterred." For this reason, Wen Zhu was punished and scolded by his father.
Later Wen Zhu attended a middle school in the county seat. The classmates around him were no longer his equal opponents, and in order to get more serious practice, he began to play with others on the street, whereby the losers had to pay a few cents.
"I definitely lost, but if in this way I improved my game, I can consider as if just paying for my Xiangqi tuition." Wen Zhu said with a smile.
Once, Wen Zhu read in a chess magazine that there was a large tournament to be held in Leshan, of Sichuan Province. In order to see the Xiangqi masters in real person, he took some money from home and got on the train. The railway system at that time was still underdeveloped, Wen Zhu had to change trains a few times, there was traffic delay on the way too, and when he arrived in Leshan, it was already three days late, the tournament was all over already.
"The mood at that time was really indescribable, there was no other way, I could only come back home in great disappointment." When talking about this, Wen Zhu was quite emotional, even to this day. He sighed and took a sip of tea, then continued to talk about his past adventures.
Although he loved the game, his academic performance in school never fell behind, and after graduating from junior high school, he was admitted to the secondary school and successfully graduated, he then joined the Guangdong Armed Police Force.
During his three-year police career, Wen Zhu has been the champion of various Xiangqi competitions in the local force. He had not met any good opponent, in a way he felt a sort of total helplessness, nevertheless he continued to try to find stronger opposition.
Due to strict regulations, Wen Zhu rarely had the opportunity to step out of the force. Sometimes after dinner, he took two hours off in the name of meeting friends, and in fact, as soon as he got out, he went straight to his chess friends who were already gathered. After a few hours of play, it was the morning sunrise, the players dispersed one after the other. What awaited Wen Zhu was the boss's reprimand and the penalty. He was even almost expelled from the sercice.
"At that time, I dreamed of Xiangqi, just like everyone having WeChat now, and my love for the game was too deep, as if like someone intoxicated." Wen Zhu said.
Since then, this "love" has not been lost or cleared away.
In 1993, at the age of 21, Wen Zhu was discharged from the service and later had participated in the Hunan Provincial Xiangqi Tournament, finishing in the top eight.
Due to the excellent results in various competitions and the fascination of the game itself, in 1993, Wen Zhu joined the Hunan Provincial Qi Yuan as a member and began to devote himself to the development of Xiangqi.
After 5 years of hard work, Hunan Xiangqi ushered in a milestone year in 1999. That year witnessed the birth of the "Godfather of Hunan Xiangqi".
At that time, the Xiangqi team in Hunan was not yet matured enough, and the outside world recognition was low. Wen Zhu wanted to hold a promotion event, but there was no sponsorship. With the enthusiasm of the game, Wen Zhu, who was working at Hunan TV Station at that time, took out more than 60,000 yuan of his own savings, organized the "Wenzhu Cup" Hunan Province Xiangqi Competition, bearing all the expenses for food and accomodation of the participants.
This was groundbreaking in the world of Xiangqi at that time.
Asked why, Wen Zhu said: "I just like the game, I don't care so much." ”
The tournament was a great success, giving hope for the development of Hunan Xiangqi. Wen Zhu began to serve as the vice chairman of the Hunan Provincial Qi Yuan, trying to lead Hunan Xiangqi to a broader and brighter future.
That year, Wen Zhu hosted the "Wenzhu Cup" National Xiangqi Invitational Tournament, although the strength of the participating players were not of top-level, they were nonetheless good players from various provinces, and the biggest significance of this invitation tournament was that Hunan Xiangqi started really to emerge from the ground upward. The best thing was people had the idea of learning from the experience of other advanced provinces and joining hands with the whole country.
From 1999 to 2001, Wenzhu personally funded three consecutive Hunan Provincial Xiangqi Tournaments.
"At that time, I was eager to hope that the Hunan Xiangqi team could embark on the road of professionalism." Wen Zhu, sitting in the chair, comfortably, talked about his dream back then, his voice couldn't help but raised a few degrees higher, he was still full of enthusiasm for the game like in the past.
Since then, he has also successfully held other tournaments such as the 2001 Nanyue Seven Chess King Quickplay, the 2002 "De Tailong Cup" Xiangqi Rookie Invitational Tournament, and the 2003 "Xiang An Cup" Xiangqi Master Invitational Tournament. At the same time, at the 2002 National Sports Game, Wen Zhu led the young Jiang Chuan and Xie Yejian winning two bronze medals in the Team and also in the Individual competitions.
As a result, Hunan Xiangqi began to emerge among the equal in the country.
In 2004, the first professional Xiangqi team in Hunan was established under the leadership of Wen Zhu, and participated in the National Xiangqi Second Division League.
What shocked the Xiangqi world was that the Hunan team, which made its debut in the national arena, successfully qualified for promotion to the 2005 National Xiangqi League A Division, and the dream of establishing a professional Hunan Xiangqi team was at last realized.
During this period, the Hunan Provincial Qi Yuan was also successfully created. Wen Zhu recruited a group of outstanding young players for systematic training, and since then, many well known Xiangqi players have emerged from there.
"Nurturing Human Resources"
Jiang Chuan, who won the National Individual Championship and the World Championship, is one of the players once trained by Wen Zhu.
In 2002, Jiang Chuan was only 18 years old, an unknown player at that time, through recommendation, Jiang Chuan had met Wen Zhu, without hesitation, the latter agreed for Jiang Chuan to represent Hunan professional team in the competition.
Years later, Jiang Chuan recalled: "He saw that I didn't say much, so he agreed to give me a precious opportunity to compete. ”
Why trust a fledgling young player so much? Wen Zhu said: "I saw that this young man was very smart, had a good sense of the game, and felt that he could be well trained. ”
As it turned out, Wen Zhu's feeling was right. With excellent results in the professional competition winning honours for Hunan, Jiang Chuan afterwards successfully joined the Beijing Xiangqi team in 2003 for further advance and more success.
"One of the great impressions of knowing Wen Zhu over the years is that he is really very good to the players, especially amateur and young players, he is willing to give unknown players the opportunity to become famous, and he also has keen eyes to spot players of talents. Teacher Wen Zhu also maintained that all competitions hosted under his name must provide free food and accommodation to all participants, which I have enjoyed a long time ago." Jiang Chuan said frankly.
In addition, other well known Xiangqi masters such as Sun Haoyu, Cheng Jinchao, Meng Chen, Lu Weitao, etc. have also been trained and led by Wen Zhu, as well as players such as Xie Yejian and Zhang Shenhong.
"It has always been my ideal to train more outstanding talented players and help the Hunan Xiangqi team develop and grow." After a pause, Wen Zhu with a sigh, added that unfortunately, due to many factors such as the environment and traditional background etc. of Hunan Xiangqi, the many talents carefully trained and cultivated are frequently lost to the outside provinces.
"As long as they become talented players, isn't it a good thing?" said Wen Zhu philosophically.
Today, Wen Zhu has his own business, and in addition to his busy work, he still devotes a lot of time to promoting Xiangqi.
The building with a plaque engraved with the words "Hunan Xiangqi Team Training Centre" often welcomes retired staff or young Xiangqi enthusiasts, and Wen Zhu is always willing to have a game and to talk to them.
"When I play Xiangqi, my mood is much better, I can calm down and think better as well, and the things in Xiangqi seem to have more taste and appeal than things in life." Wen Zhu continued, "A move may looks so simple, yet there are dozens or hundreds of variations to ponder and make a right choice, avoiding grave mistakes as much as possible. Things that you like will always allow you to use fully your brain power to think, to decide, and to enjoy. ”
Wen Zhu thus said, fiddling with the chess pieces on the table, the spring rain outside the window did not stop, and the sound of rain water mixed with the sound of chess pieces lightly hitting the chessboard, produced a sort of appealing summer melody.
"In the second half of this year, I am planning to hold a top tournament in the country, and the plan is still in the pipeline." Wen Zhu said, after a long pause.
As for the funds, Wen Zhu said: "The complex is here, it doesn't matter if one provided some money oneself." Since 1999, for the Hunan Xiangqi professional team, and for the holding of various Xiangqi tournaments every year, I have funded at least the sum of several millions yuan. Some people who engaged in the games will play their own economic calculations to some extent, and I may be like the philanthropist hero Lei Feng（雷锋）in this regard。Really what kind of economic account can I be calculated in my hobby? No way, I am just taking it as a fund for the public welfare!"
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Source : 蝴蝶飞的博客
~ a XIANGQI EN BLOG translation ~