JIA, TITAO 贾题韬 (jiǎ tí tāo, 1909-1995)
Nicknames: Not found yet.
Jia hailed from the City of Zhao (赵城, Hanyu Pinyin zhào chéng), in Shanxi (山西, Hanyu Pinyin shān xī). He had already made his name in his youth and was said to have studied the ancient manuals and was especially adept at the single horse defense. Jia was also known for his visualization on the board, being able to calculate many variations deeply and accurately. He was also an expert at handicap games and was known for making brilliant plays. In the 1920-30's Jia served as a teacher in Sichuan (Szechuan as it is more known to the West).
Jia learned Xiangqi from an astrologist who was also a Xiangqi expert at the Kai Hua Temple (开化寺, Hanyu Pinyin kāi huà sì). He was able to defeat his mentor after two years of training and in the process also mastered Weiqi. When he was in university, he obtained masters in philosophy and logical thinking and analysis. He was so gifted that his professor actually wrote a letter asking the university to appoint him as the lecturer instead and that his professor was willing to teach elsewhere.
A devout Buddhist, Jia went on a pilgrimage to various important Buddhist worshipping sites in China like the Wu Tai Mountains (五台山, Hanyu Pinyin wǔ tái shān) and E-Mei Mountains (峨嵋, Hanyu Pinyiné méi ) and he was well versed in the different forms of Buddhism.
After 1938, Jia became a professor who taught at various universities. It was during this stage that he promoted Xiangqi with vigor and taught Xiangqi to many students. Perhaps his most famous student was Master Liu Jianqing.. It was also during this period of time that he wrote and published An Analytical Guide to Xiangqi (<<象棋指归>>, Hanyu Pinyin xiàng qí zhǐ guī). This was quite a masterpiece as it was the only book in the past few centuries that actually defined Xiangqi theory and presented it in a systematical manner for use in actual play. After Jia's masterpiece, Xiangqi is now studied systematically like a discipline and this revolutionary idea of his would change the way that Xiangqi was taught and learned. Jia was only thirty-two years of age when he wrote the book. It was quite influential. Although Jia was in Sichuan, which was far away from the Xiangqi hotbeds in East China, his reputation as a Xiangqi expert came about from his book. Jia rarely had the chance to interact with other Xiangqi players in the other parts of China because of his commitments to teaching. In fact, only Xie Xiaxun and Zhu Jianqiu had ever visited him and attested his prowess in Xiangqi. He was more of a mystery to the Xiangqi players in the major venues.
One of the highlights of Jia's Xiangqi career was when he challenged Xie Xiaxun in 1940 to seventeen matches. When it was over, Jia won two more games than Xie. Although Xie was past his prime, it was still a legendary achievement for Jia.
An Analytical Guide to Xiangqi would not be the last of his books. Jia had many other books to his name, amongst them, A New Theory of the Xiangqi Endgame (<<象棋残局新论>> Hanyu Pinyin xiàng qí cán jú xīn lùn)which was another groundbreaking piece of work of its time and still influences Xiangqi thinking even today. Jia was quite ahead of his time and Jia predicted the rising popularity of non-cannon openings like the elephant and pawn opening which were generally considered as inadept in the early twentieth century.
Jia also served as editor of the Xiangqi column in Xin Xin News (新新新闻, Hanyu Pinyin xīn xīn xīn wén) and which was a rather influential newspaper of its time.
Jia was also a devout Buddhist and had written several books on the topic himself.
After 1949 Jia was appointed as a government official to Tibet based on his background in Buddhism. It was in Tibet that Jia served for many years before returning to Chengdu, Sichuan when he was old. Jia passed away in 1995.
First created: 6th, Dec 2017
Last updated:15th, Dec 2017
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Tu Jingming 屠景明 Yang Baiwei
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