Value of pieces

Should I exchange a chariot for 2 horses?
Is it worthwhile to sacrifice a horse for two elephants during attack?

XQ is basically a decision making game. Every move, a decision is made with the ultimate goal of gaining advantage and winning the game. In the course of the game, there will be exchanges, and sacrifices, but how do we choose the correct move?
First two concepts have to be explained.


Position vs Piece

There have been many articles written about these two concepts, each has its arguments. But the general agreement is, with all other factors being equal, positional advantage is more important than material upper hand. But please bear in mind that each game is unique on its own. Even the same opening will result in different outcomes because the players are different.

Analysis is where we learn and improve our game. As for the value of pieces, I learnt mine from the streets when I was young.  
King= priceless. Chariot=9 pts, Horse = Cannon = 4 pts, Elephant = Advisor = 2pts,
Pawn that has not crossed river = 1 pt, Pawn that has crossed river = 2 pts

Grandmaster Liu Dianzhong (刘殿中) views it a little bit differently. In his book for beginners , <<象棋初学门径>> or <<Gateways or paths for Xiangqi beginners>> :
Cannon = 4.5 points,  Horse = 4 pts, Elephant = 2.5pts, Advisor = 2 pts.The other pieces have the same value. 

I went to my local bookstore recently and I noticed that in books written for elementary kids in china, the syllabus for the point value system was:
Chariot = 10 pts, Cannon = 4.5 pts, Horse =  4 pts, Elephant = 2 pts, Advisor = 2 pts,
pawn that has crossed river = 2 pts, and pawn that has not crossed river = 1 pt.
 

David Li gave 10 points to the Chariot, 5 to the horse and 4 to the cannon in his work (“ First syllabus in Xiangqi”). The values of the other pieces are the same.

What everybody agrees on is that the king is, of course, priceless. Losing the king means losing the game. Everything can be sacrificed to protect its well being.


This is but a rough guide to assist you when playing Xiangqi. I cannot stress the importance of the unique individuality of each game. For instance, a pawn that is right smack in the middle of the palace threatening to check your king is worth much more than 2 points.

So…have fun!!! 

Last updated: 26th March 2011 

References:
1. In Chinese, <<象棋新编教程>> ( New syllabus on Xiangqi) by GM Grandmaster 刘殿中 Volume 1 <<象棋初学门径>> (Gateways for Xiangqi beginners) p 27
2. In Chinese, <<象棋入门>> (Xiangqi for beginners),  p 15 by 李浭, 马正福
3. In English, First syllabus in Xiangqi by David H Li.
4. In English, wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xiangqi

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