Elegant Pastime Xiangqi Manual

Although not the earliest of the ancient manuals, <<适情雅趣>> (Hanyu Pinyin: Shi Qing Ya Qu)  is perhaps the most thorough and systematic Xiangqi manual. Throughout this website, Shi Qing Ya Qu will be abbreviated as sqyq. A very rough direct translation for the title would be suitable (适) and elegant pastime/interest (雅趣). Before a better English translation comes along, I will refer to it as the Elegant Pastime Xiangqi Manual. 

It was written in the Ming Dynasty by 徐芝 Xu Zhi( Hanyu Pinyin Xu2 Zhi1). Xu had collected and based his work on two earlier manuals, <<梦入神机>> and <<金鹏十八变>>. Some say that this great masterpiece was written around AD 1570. There are 10 volumes to the original work, and includes works on openings, midgames and whole games. Volumes 1-4 is basically a study of kills in various midgames. Volumes 5 and 6 teaches endgames but in Volume 5 the endgames mostly end with red wins whilst the endgames in Volume 6 mostly end in draws. There are 550 games from Volume 1-6. 

Volumes 7-10 are basically based on openings from <<金鹏十八变>>. It also reflects the fashionable openings of that era. There are 51 chapters to it which include 21 chapters on openings with advantages to red, 14 games whereby a handicapped move was given to your opponent, and 16 handicapped games whereby a one horse or two horse advantage was given to your opponent. 

What makes the "Elegant Pastime Xiangqi Manual" one of the greatest masterpieces of all time is the thoroughness and systematic study of Xiangqi. And it is very practical too. If you master the principles shown, you could apply them to your game and increase your skill level greatly. The ingenuity of the moves are also breathtaking. Please click to see some of the kills to understand why. In fact, the "Elegant Pastime Xiangqi Manual" has been hailed as the greatest Xiangqi manual on kills for all time, hands down. And unlike later chess manuals which focused specifically on openings, or endgames or Xiangqi setup compositions, "Elegant Pastime Xiangqi Manual" encompassed all. Indeed, it is recommended by all Xiangqi masters, and to date, many contemporary Xiangqi manuals still refer to it.

There are errors to some of the listed games though. Xiangqi Legend Xie Xiajun (see Xiangqi greats) studied all of the games and found some mistakes and eventually corrected them. Others like 徐家亮 Xu Jialiang ( a master of both Xiangqi and International chess, who incidentally was  the 1958 Chinese National International Chess Individuals Champion), have further corrected some of the games. But original author Xu Zhi deserves praise for having written such a masterpiece that has stood the tests of time and has gained recommendation by pratically every one who has come across this masterpiece. And for a 500+ year old Xiangqi manual, it is just plain superb.

Each puzzle has a four Chinese character name, some reflective of ancient wars, others using Chinese idioms that are still in use today. These were meant to tell the story of the board given. Xu had also painstakingly inserted a hint in almost every board, so that the reader could try to solve the puzzles.Talk about user friendly 500+ years ago...

Again, it is impossible for me to just upload the whole book in a short time, but I will slowly do it one by one. And to be very frank, I have never solved the long puzzles by my own, though sometimes when I am in top form am I able to solve some of the simpler puzzles. I will refer to some of the books written by experts. And it is impossible not to make mistakes in uploading the games, so if you find any mistakes please tell me. I will try to explain the most important moves in detail. But, for anyone of you out there that is interested, PLEASE HELP ME!!!! As for the explanations of the Chinese titles of each game, I must admit that although I understand most of them, there are still many characters that are seldom in use today, and anybody with good explanations, PLEASE STEP FORWARD!!!

The games have been studied extensively by many people. And many mistakes have been found. I will try to present the original version and contemporary studies of it as best as possible. And in the process of doing the game, many have submitted to me their personal studies or modifications of the games in the ancient manual. I applaud these people for their hard work. Keep them coming.

Lastly, as there are 550 games alone in the puzzles section, I will try to publish 5 games within one page. When I have the time, I will go into the details and then publish some of the errors found by contemporary masters and publish their findings and insights. As for the rest of the volumes, that would have to wait... But for now, I believe it would be sufficient with the games published. Please click on each link and the games will be shown in the same window.


Last updated: 12th July 2011
Mr Felix Tan for many modifications and proofreading.
Mr Peter Sung for proofreading and Mr Lau Mong Yong for helping me out with some of the games.
Mr Ong Hock Seng has also helped proofread and sent his own study of game 108 and other corrections for mistakes in other games.
Mr Chris Hankinson for pointing out a few mistakes! And for helping me out by doing many of the games!!! If I could click "like" for Chris, I'd do it a million times.

1. <<象棋杀局宝典—适情雅趣>> by 徐家亮
2.  <<中国象棋谱大全>> by 程明松, 杨明中, 屠景明 et al.

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