Introduction to the Five Rams Cup

Imagine a Xiangqi tournament whereby only the best Xiangqi experts in the world were eligible for participation. Back in the 1980-2000s, this tournament was known as the Five Rams Cup (五羊杯全国象棋冠军赛).

Xiangqi pastry at Lugang ChanghuaFrom the Lexicon of Xiangqi (Chinese Chess) Terms in English (written by the Webmaster),

The Five Rams Cup was perhaps the toughest Xiangqi tournament in the world. Sponsored mostly by the late Hong Kong business tycoon Henry Fok, the very first tournament was held in January 1981. All the tournaments were held in Guangzhou.

When the tournament first started, only winners of the Chinese Xiangqi National Individuals Championship were allowed to participate. Therefore, upon its inception in 1981, there were only four players that were eligible for competition: Grandmaster Liu Dahua, Grandmaster Hu Ronghua and Grandmaster Yang Guanglin and Grandmaster Li Yiting. However, Grandmaster Li Yiting had already retired, so there were only three players that were eligible for competition. To make place for more top players to take part, the entry requirements were loosened in 2002. The rules were later relaxed even more such that competitors who had never become National Champion were also allowed to participate. Still, it was perhaps the toughest Xiangqi tournament in the world for its time.

Winners of the Five Rams Cup three times in a row were allowed to retain the coveted trophy permanently. Players who have accomplished the feat include Grandmaster Hu Ronghua (5th-8th tournament from 1985-1988) and Grandmaster Lü Qin (twice: 9th-13th tournament 1989-1992, 20th-2Second tournament, 1999-2001). The games played by these greats have been studied meticulously. It was considered to be a great honor to be able to take part in the competition. Unfortunately, as there were no more sponsors after the 29th event, it was stopped.

Some interesting facts:

1. Taking part in the Five Rams Cup would increase the player's chance of becoming National Champion.

Lü Qin represented Grandmaster Yang Guanlin in 1985 and 1986 when Yang relinquished his invitation to let young Lü Qin have more exposure. Lü Qin would become the National Champion the following year.

Yu Youhua 于幼华 was invited to take part in the tournament in 2002. Like Lü Qin, he was not a national champion yet. However, after the Five Rams Cup, he became National Champion in the same year. Hong Zhi was also invited to the Five Rams Cup in 2005, where he was not a national champion yet. Again, following the steps of Lü Qin and Yu Youhua, he would win the following National Championship,and he would win the next Five Rams Cup in 2006. Jiang Chuan made his debut in 2004. He would become National Champion in 2010.

2. There were only three players in the first Five Rams Cup. Liu Dahua won the very first championship, thus becoming the first Champion of Champions. The prize money, sponsored by Coca Cola, was 150 yuan for the champion. By the 16th tournament, the prize money for the champion had multiplied many-fold to 50000 yuan. Grandmaster Liu Dahua never won the tournament again after 1983. The 16th Five Rams Cup was so "peaceful" that champion Lü Qin won the tournament with only one win. The rest of the matches all ended in draws. Such a result ignited an outrage, and there were calls to make changes to the point system to make the game less drawish. Controversywas sparked, and additional awards like continuous wins were added in the hope of adding fireworks to the sport.

3. Players who had not won the Chinese Xiangqi National Individuals Championships were allowed to take part in the 16th Five Rams Cup after 2002, as long as they made Grandmaster by virtue of a high winning percentage.

4. Hong Kong casino tycoon Fok Koon Tai was the major sponsor of the tournament up till 2009. He announced that he would sponsor the event indefinitely in 1988. Unfortunately, he died in 2006. A nightly newspaper from Guangdong (羊城晚报yáng chéng wǎn bào) proceeded to sponsor the 29th tournament but stopped afterward. There has not been another Five Rams Cup to date.

It took the Webmaster over three days to reorganize the files of the Five Rams Cup for your perusal. The list is almost completet.

As with other game records found on this site, the Webmaster has chosen to categorize the game records in terms of of the opening system played. In the old website, there was no Vietnamese given for the players. The Webmaster has added some simple Vietnamese to help the Vietnamese community view the boards.

The matches played in the event can be found below. Unless specified, there will be ten boards per page. As there was only a limited number of games played in the first few tournaments,

Contents:

Five Rams Cup Contents
Event Date Winner Contents Event Date Winner Contents
01 Jan 1981 Liu Dahua 01 16 Dec 1995 Lü Qin 16
02 Dec 1981 Hu Ronghua 02 17 Dec 1996 Hu Ronghua 17a 17b
03 Jan 1983 Liu Dahua 03a 03b 18 Jan 1998 Xu Yinchuan 18a 18b
04 Jan 1984 Li Laiqun 04a 04b 19 Jan 1999 Zhao Guorong 19a 19b 19c
05 Jan 1985 Hu Ronghua 05a 05b 20 Dec 1999 Lü Qin 20a 20b
06 Jan 1986 Hu Ronghua 06a 06b 21 Jan 2001 Lü Qin 21a 21b
07 Dec 1986 Hu Ronghua 07a 07b 22 Dec 2001 Lü Qin 22a 22b 
08 Jan 1988 Hu Ronghua 08a 08b 23 Jan 2003 Xu Yinchuan 23a 23b 
09 Jan 1989 Lü Qin 09a 09b 24 Jan 2004 Lü Qin 24a 24b 24c
10 Jan 1990 Lü Qin 10a 10b 25 Jan 2005 Xu Yinchuan 25a 25b 25c
11 Jan 1991 Lü Qin 11a 11b 26 Jan 2006 Hong Zhi 26a 26b 26c
12 Jan 1992 Lü Qin 12a 12b 27 Jan 2007 Xu Yinchuan 27a 27b
27c 27d
13 Dec 1992 Lü Qin 13a 13b 28 Jan 2008 Xu Yinchuan 28a 28b 28c 
4 Dec 1993 Xu Yinchuan 14a 14b 29 Feb 2009 Lü Qin 29a 29b 29c
15 Jan 1995 Xu Yinchuan 15a 15b

 

 

 Enjoy!