The Invincible Xiangqi Manual

<<自出洞来无敌手>> (Hanyu Pinyin Zi4 Chu1 Dong4 Lai2 Wu2 Di2 Shou3) 
This is another ancient manual, whose author was given as 纯阳道人. 道人 refers to the a Taoist priest, so he probably was a Taoist priest.
. I have very limited data on this ancient manual. 

According to the research by 程明松, 杨明中 and 屠景明 who authored <<中国象棋谱大全>>, it was mostly hand copied manual which was widely spread in the Qing dynasty. It was mentioned in certain collections of books in the 17th century and it is widely believed to have existed even before the Elegant Pastime Xiangqi Manual. Indeed, there are unmistakable similarities to both manuals. The first officially published version of this ancient manual was found in 1948, by a man called 邵次明 Shao Ciming who authored a book called <<象棋战略>> ( Tactics in Xiangqi).

The entire manual consists of 7 parts or volumes with each volume containing 5 games. Each Chinese character of the name of the manual is used to represent one type of opening discussed in that section. They are mainly same direction or opposite direction cannon games, which were highly fashionable in ancient times.
自出洞来无敌手 if translated directly means that after intensive training in a cave, you come out invincible. 自 = can be translated as “ since” in this context, 出  and 来 = “ coming out or going out” in this context, 洞= “cave" in this context,   无敌 = "invincible" 手 = "opponent" in this context. Another website has translated the manual’s name as “ Victories all the way” but I prefer the loud nature of the original name.  

For those not familiar with this idea, think of some of the kung-fu or martial arts movies that you have seen before, especially those by Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee. Even better still, think of the recent Disney cartoon movie of the panda who learns Kungfu. A common storyline is that the hero knows little or none kungfu, gets bullied, and by a stroke of fate comes across a super-duper kung-fu manual. He then retires to somewhere secluded (caves were highly favored, or deep forests or valleys…) and trains himself in the martial art found in that kungfu manual and after months to years of crazy intensive training, comes out invincible and takes revenge. There are many subplots to the kung-fu manual itself, but it was fashionable in that era to name it with a poem or a short verse. I believe that the name of this ancient manual followed such a pattern. 

When compared to other ancient manuals, this is more of a collection of games where not many variations are mentioned. It is comparatively simple, and but the kills are equally exciting as in The Secret of the Tangerine.  For those who have gone through The Secret in the Tangerine, this would seem like a more simple version.

To be honest, I have never gone through more than 2 games in the manual and that was many many years ago. I have decided to add this to the ancient manuals sections because it is relatively easier than the others to annotate. At the moment, I do not have much information about the manual, so if anybody has any information, please tell me.

The openings mentioned in the manual were exclusively used in this ancient manual. They have not been used anywhere else. As they are also nearly impossible to translate, I will not do so. Instead, I will use the Hanyu Pinyin to represent each chapter.
自 : 信手炮 Zi volume        SD cannons: ranked chariot vs filed chariot     
出 : 列手炮 Chu volume    OD cannons: big variation    
洞 : 入手炮 Dong volume  Central cannon vs Single horse defence       
来 : 窝心炮 Lai volume      SD cannons with RR and double central cannons vs single horse defence.     
无 : 袖手炮 Wu volume     Screen horse (red) vs Central cannon openings (black)       
敌 : 出手炮 Di volume       SD cannons: filed chariot vs ranked chariot
手 : 应手炮 Shou volume  SD cannons: ranked chariot vs filed chariot 

Last updated: 4th June 2011
Acknowledgement: None yet

1. <<中国象棋谱大全>> by 程明松, 杨明中 and 屠景明
2. <<象棋辞典>> by 屠景明 杨柏伟 

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