"Plum Flower Manual" series
There are several ancient manuals that contain the words ‘梅花谱’ (Plum Flower Manuals) in their titles. Some of the titles did not contain the Plum Flower Manual tag initially, but were added into their book titles later and soon became well-known entities in the Plum Flower Manual series.
The common theme in these ancient manuals was the Central Cannon vs. Screen Horse Defense opening system. The latter 'Plum Flower Manuals' were all inspired by the 'original' Plum Flower Manual which was written by Wang Zaiyue about five centuries ago.
These ancient manuals were part of the Cannon-Horse Debate (炮马争雄) which has lasted for centuries (and is still going on) whereby supporters or advocates of the central cannon would try to prove that it was superior to the Screen Horse Defense and vice versa.
They are (in approximate order of publication dates):
- 《梅花谱》Plum Flower Manual by Wang, aka the ORIGINAL Plum Flower Manual,
- 《无双品梅花谱》Unparalleled Plum Flower Manual (1760-1770AD),
- 《崇本堂梅花谱》 Chong Ben Tang's Plum Flower Manual,
- 《梅花泉》Plum Flower Springs Manual,
- 《梅花变法谱》or perhaps better known as Zheng's Plum Flower Manual 《郑氏梅花谱》(1879AD)
- 《象棋讓先秘譜》or perhaps better known as 《吴氏梅花谱》Wu's Plum Flower Manual
- 《善庆堂梅花谱》Shan Qing Tang's Plum Flower Manual,
- 《反梅花谱》Anti-Plum Flower Manual
Other than the Central Cannon vs. Screen Horse Defense opening system, there were also many boards that discussed the Same Direction Cannons, Opposite Direction Cannons et cetera. There were also very rudimentary discussion of other opening systems like the Pawn Opening and Elephant Opening and even discussion of very rare counters like the Blind Dog Gambit (Zheng's Plum Flower Manual), Turtle Back Cannons (Anti-Plum Flower Manual) et cetera.
The Plum Flower Manual Series, together with the Secret in the Tangerine, are still very relevant, viable and practical in over-the-board play nowadays. It is generally believed that they are the best place to start studying the opening system in Xiangqi, especially for beginners.
The Webmaster will upload the entire series eventually. In the meantime, to preserve the ancient manuals, some of them have already been converted into print form with added analyses and commentaries which are available for sale on Amazon. Please refer to the publications section of the site.
The main reference used for the ancient manuals is Cheng Mingsong, Yang Mingzhong and Tu Jingming's Encyclopedia of Xiangqi Manuals.
程明松, 杨明忠, & 屠景明. (2007 重印). 中国象棋谱大全. 成都: 成都时代出版社. ISBN 9787805485294.