Xiangqi: A game for two only? Introducing Tag Team Matches!

Butterflies. The Webmaster was searching for commonly asked questions on the internet so that he could answer them. One of the interesting questions that could be found was: "How many players take part in a game of Chinese Chess?"

The obvious answer would be two people. Kibitzers in the background cannot count as the players, although they might be more enthusiastic than the actual players. So, it should be two players…

But, is it necessarily so? While two people indeed play most over-the-board Xiangqi games, there are two different ways of playing Xiangqi, where there are more than two players. These different game formats are called Xiangqi Tag Team Matches and Xiangqi Consultation Matches.

Xiangqi Tag Team Matches

Xiangqi Tag Team Matches is one of the ways that is used to popularize Xiangqi. But what is a Xiangqi Tag Team Match?

The following are the definitions of some of the commonly seen formats from the Lexicon of Xiangqi (Chinese Chess) Terms in English that the Webmaster has compiled. A second edition is in the works.

XIANGQI TAG TEAM MATCH
联棋 lián qí
A Xiangqi Tag Team Match refers to three or more players combining their efforts to doing battle with another combination of three or more players in one game of Xiangqi. Players on the same team would take turns to make moves in a pre-determined order. Therefore each player only gets to make a move every few turns. The team members are not allowed to discuss the game or strategy so that it would be a test between team members to try to read what their teammates are thinking of while at the same time try to fathom what the opponents are doing. Such a form of competition is usually done for recreational purposes.
If there were only two players per side, it would be called a Xiangqi Doubles match. (See XIANGQI DOUBLES TAG TEAM MATCH.) (1)

Such a form of competition is very demanding. Other than trying to anticipate the intent of the opposing team, you would have to try to figure out what your teammate or ally was thinking.

Perhaps the most important Xiangqi Tag Team Tournament was the two tournaments that were played in Sichuan back in 2018 and 2019. It was a joint effort by the World Xiangqi Federation and the authorities in Sichuan.

The names of the tournament were the 2018 and 2019 Sichuan Airlines Cup World Xiangqi Tag Team Tournament ("四川航空杯" 全球象棋双人邀请赛 Sì chuān hang kōng bēi quán qiú xiàng qí shuāng rén yāo qǐng sài). It was quite a big event whereby the World Xiangqi Federation. A team of a Chinese Xiangqi Grandmaster teamed up with a Xiangqi expert selected from Europe, South East Asia, and Russia to form a team. The tournament went on using the Swiss format.

The first-ever World Xiangqi Tag Team Tournament was won by the team of Chinese Women's Grandmaster Chen Xingchun and long-time Japanese Xiangqi Player Shoshi Kazuharu, who was a World Xiangqi Federation (WXF) Federation Master.

In 2019, the team of Chinese Grandmaster Zhao Xinxin and Cambodian International Xiangqi Master Heng Chamnan (邱亮 qiū liàng). (2) (3) (4) (5)

 

 

XIANGQI DOUBLES TAG TEAM MATCH
双打赛/双人赛 shuāng dǎ sài/ shuāng rén sài
A Xiangqi Doubles Tag Team Match refers to a specific form of competition whereby four players are divided into two teams of two to play a game of Xiangqi. Each player only gets to make a move every alternate turn. Team members are also known as allies. (See ALLIES.)
According to Tu Jingming in his Xiangqi Dictionary, there are two types of competition formats. In one type, the players are allowed to discuss their moves. In the other type, the players are not allowed to move and would have to guess the intentions of their ally as well as the opponent.
There have been several tournaments held in China using this format. Usually, a women's grandmaster would be paired up with a men's grandmaster. (1)

Another prominent Tag Team Tournament was held recently. It was called the 2020 Longhua Xiangqi Master and Disciple Tag Team Tournament龙华象棋师徒双人赛(Lóng huá xiàng qí shī tú shuāng rén sài). Each team consisted of an elder Xiangqi Grandmaster and his protégé, who was also a Xiangqi Grandmaster or Master in China.

One of the videos of the matches between the team of Grandmaster Liu Dahua and his protégé Master Dang Fei (both were ex-record holders of the Xiangqi blindfold simultaneous matches record) and the team of Grandmaster Lv Qin and his women's protégé, Grandmaster Chen Xinglin. How the match was carried out can be seen in the embedded video.

 

Teams of Chinese Xiangqi Grandmasters and Masters were pit against each other. What was interesting was that there was already a certain level of tacit understanding amongst the team members, and they would be very familiar with each other's habits and preferences. (6)

Xiangqi Consultation Match

While collecting information for the Lexicon, the author came across this format of the competition. Unfortunately, there was no tournament to date that uses this format. For the introduction's sake, the definition has been given below.

XIANGQI CONSULTATION MATCH
多人赛
A Xiangqi consultation match refers to a specific form of competition whereby the match is divided into two teams playing the same game. Each team may consist of two or more players and are usually equal in number. The team members can consult each other to determine their next move. The rest of the game continues in the same fashion as a normal game would. Team members are also known as allies. This format of the competition is rarely seen and usually done for recreational purposes. (See ALLIES and also XIANGQI TAG TEAM MATCH.)

 

References

1. Png, Jim Hau Cheng. Lexicon of Xiangqi (Chinese Chess) Terms in English. Taipei : Jim Png Hau Cheng, 2017. 978-957-43-4707-0.

2. 全球象棋双人赛. 百度百科. [Online] [Cited: Sep 13, 2020.] https://bkso.baidu.com/item/%E5%85%A8%E7%90%83%E8%B1%A1%E6%A3%8B%E5%8F%8C%E4%BA%BA%E8%B5%9B/22869527.

3. 麋鹿. 双人赛陈丽淳所司和晴称霸 许银川伊万获亚军. 新浪体育. [Online] Sep 12, 2018. [Cited: Sep 13, 2020.] https://sports.sina.cn/others/qipai/2018-09-12/detail-ihiycyfx6514087.d.html.

4. 赵鑫鑫、邱亮夺得2019全球象棋双人赛冠军. 新华网体育. [联机] 2019年Sep月22日. [引用日期: 2020年Sep月13日.] http://sports.xinhuanet.com/c/2019-09/22/c_1125025227.htm.

5. 象棋世界冠军如何“配合”海外棋手? 东方体育日报 Oriental Sports Daily. [联机] 2019年Sep月23日. [引用日期: 2020年Sep月13日.] http://www.dfsports.com.cn/jjzgu/qpu/25447.html.

6. 郑志鹏见习记者深圳晚报. 深圳龙华象棋师徒双人赛激战 吕钦:考验师徒默契. 新浪体育. [联机] 2020年Aug月30日. [引用日期: 2020年Sep月13日.] https://sports.sina.com.cn/go/2020-08-30/doc-iivhvpwy3867739.shtml.