Introduction to the Elegant Pastime Manual
Although not the earliest of the ancient manuals, the Elegant Pastime Manual (《适情雅趣》shì qíng yǎ qù) is perhaps the most thorough and systematic Xiangqi manual in the ancient times. A rough translation of the title would be suitable (适) and elegant pastime/interest (雅趣).
It was written in the Ming Dynasty by Xu Zhi( 徐芝 xú zhī). Xu had collected and based his work on two earlier manuals, Dreams of Divine Positions (《梦入神机》mèng rù shén jī) and The Eighteen Stances of the Golden Roc (《金鹏十八变》jīn péng shí bā biàn). It is believed that this great masterpiece was written around AD 1570.
There were ten volumes to the original work and includes works on openings, midgames, and whole games.
Volumes 1-4 is a study of kills in various midgames. Volumes 5 and 6 teaches endgames, but in Volume 5, the endgames mostly end with red wins while the endgames in Volume 6 mostly end in draws. There are 550 games from Volume 1-6.
Volumes 7-10 are based on openings from The Eighteen Stances of the Golden Roc (《金鹏十八变》jīn péng shí bā biàn). 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 made it great
What made the Elegant Pastime Xiangqi Manual one of the greatest masterpieces of all time was the thoroughness and systematic study of Xiangqi. There was the advice given in the book that is still applicable today. If the visitor master the principles shown, you could apply them to your game and increase your skill level significantly. The ingenuity of the moves is also breathtaking. Please click to see some of the kills to understand why.
The Elegant Pastime Xiangqi Manual has been hailed as the most excellent Xiangqi manual on basic kills for all time. And unlike later chess manuals that 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 in some of the listed games.
Xiangqi legend Xie Xiajun studied all of the games and found some mistakes and eventually corrected them. Others like Xu Jialiang (徐家亮 xú jiā liàng, a chess polymath who is 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 practically everyone who has come across this masterpiece. And for a five hundred 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 Zhi also painstakingly inserted a hint in almost every board, so that the reader could try to solve the puzzles. Talk about being user-friendly 500+ years ago...
It is impossible not to make mistakes in uploading the games, so if you find any mistakes, please tell me.
Lastly, as there are 550 games alone in the puzzles section. For the sake of presentation, the Webmaster will publish ten games within one page unless specified. Enjoy!!!
In 2020, when the Webmaster transferred the site, some coding went bad that was okay before. It appears that the interactive viewer could not process the apostrophe ', and many of the files became incompletely uploaded. Murphy's law struck and the Webmaster could not find many of the original files. He has opted to re-do the entire manual and upload the corrected version. And because of the workload, he has decided to base his work mainly on the Encyclopedia of Xiangqi Manuals by Cheng Mingsong, Yang Mingzhong, Tu Jingming et al. In some of the files, Xu Jialiang's work and contributions can still be found in some of files.
As for the opening boards, there is much discrepancy and the Webmaster will upload them at a later date.
1. 《象棋杀局宝典—适情雅趣》 by 徐家亮
2. 《中国象棋谱大》 by 程明松, 杨明中, 屠景明 et al.
The Elegant Pastime Manual puzzles shown on this website published as books and ebooks on Amazon. A detailed analysis with added variations and sub-variations have been added. There is a ton of information hidden behind the titles whereby the Webmaster has researched and explained to the best of the abilities. Understanding the titles would allow the reader to have a deeper appreciation of the culture and beauty of Xiangqi.
Elegant Pastime Manual Contents
DISCLAIMER: This webpage contains products with affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, xqinenglish.com will receive a small commission. You will not incur any extra cost when buying from an affiliate link.