Author: Jim Png of www.xqinenglish.com
Note: This article first appeared on Xiangqi.com.
This article is a continuation of the major Xiangqi tournaments in China only. It will focus on tournaments that have been sponsored by companies and other business entities. The first part will include the ‘official’ tournaments held by the CXA. The second part of the article will focus on significant tournaments sponsored by different companies and business groups.
The contents include:
- Five Rams Cup Chinese Xiangqi Grandmasters Invitational Tournament “五羊杯”全国象棋特级大师邀请赛
- Yinli Cup Xiangqi Invitational Challenge “銀荔杯”象棋爭霸賽
- Jiu Cheng Zhi Ye Cup “九城置业杯”象棋比赛
- Maoshan Cup Chinese Xiangqi Champions Invitation Tournament “茅山杯”全国象棋冠军邀请赛
- Juezhan Mingshan Cup National Xiangqi Champions Invitational Tournament 决战名山全国象棋冠军挑战赛
- Bi Gui Yuan Chinese National Xiangqi Champions Individual Invitation “碧桂园杯”全国象棋冠军邀请赛
- God of Wealth Cup. Televised Rapid Xiangqi Tournament “财神杯”视频象棋快棋赛
- List of other tournaments that have not been mentioned
The Five Rams Cup Chinese Xiangqi Grandmasters Invitational Tournament was THE PREMIERE EVENT in Xiangqi when it first came out. The first event was held in January 1981. The last event (29th Championship) was held in 2009. It was mainly sponsored by the late Hong Kong tycoon, Mr. Henry Fok. (1) (2)
Only past Chinese National Champions were eligible for participation initially, but the criteria were loosened later to allow other grandmasters to participate.
When the tournament was held for the first time in 1981, only three Xiangqi players, Grandmaster Yang Guanlin, Grandmaster Hu Ronghua, and Grandmaster Liu Dahua, were eligible. Another past national Champion, Li Yiting, had long retired. The placings of the players in all the tournaments can be found at this link (in Chinese).
As Xiangqi blossomed in China, there were more new National Champions, and the list of players eligible for competition grew.
In its heyday, it was regarded as the top Xiangqi tournament in the world. Indeed, all the games played in the event were analyzed in detail, and you could be sure that the Xiangqi periodicals would report the event.
There have also been many books that were written of the Five Rams Cup. Winning the tournament three times in a row would mean that the winner was allowed to keep the cup forever, and only Grandmasters Hu Ronghua and Lv Qin could accomplish the feat.
The video shown below is a commentary by Grandmaster Liu Dianzhong on a game played by Grandmaster Lv Qin against Li Laiqun.
The Yinli Cup was another major Xiangqi tournament in its heyday as it vied with the Five Rams Cup. It was an annual event that was held from 1990 to 2005. Like the Five Rams Cup, only a handful of selected players were eligible to participate. Unlike the Five Rams Cup, which focused on past National Champions (for most of the competition), the Yinli Cup would invite players based on their results that particular year. There was also a women’s division. Players from Division A and the top nine women’s Xiangqi masters were eligible. The results of the past tournaments can be found at this URL (in Chinese).
The winner of the tournament would pocket one hundred and fifty thousand RMB.
And as with other major tournaments, there were also many other Xiangqi activities like (3 页 44)
In the 2004 event, thirty-six Xiangqi Grandmasters and Masters did battle with one thousand local Xiangqi enthusiasts at Guang-an (广安), Sichuan, where the event was held. It was the biggest simultaneous Xiangqi event that the CXA ever held. Guang-an was the birthplace of the late Chinese leader, Deng Xiaoping, and the 2004 Yinli Cup was held in commemoration of Deng. (4)
The following video is by International Master Chao Ifan, who comments on a game between Taiwan Grandmaster Wu Kui-lin against Chinese Grandmaster Hu Ronghua. For those who do not know, Wu Kui-lin had also learned Xiangqi from Grandmaster Hu Ronghua.
The Jiu Cheng Zhi Ye Cup was held only three times from 2008 to 2010. It was marketed as the grand final tournament to end the year, and it made headlines on its first tournament. The winner of the event would fatten their purse with three hundred thousand RMB. The prize money would be raised to half a million RMB the following year. (5)
The Jiu Cheng Zhi Ye Company sponsored it, and only past Xiangqi champions were eligible for participation. It was also marketed as the last major tournament of the year, somewhat like the ATP Finals in Tennis. There was much marketing effort as celebrity singer Joker Xue (薛之谦Xue Zhiqian ) was also invited to produce the theme song 楚河汉界. There was also a performance by Zhou Libo (周立波) as part of the opening ceremony. (6) (7)
There is a Youtube video of the song, which is quite lovely in the author’s opinion, that can be accessed at the link below.
The following is a link to a commentary of one of the matches. Towards the end of the video, footage of the actual match can be seen as the grandmasters discussed the game in a post-mortem analysis.
The Maoshan Cup was another invitational tournament that was a highlight on the Xiangqi calendar when it was held from 2009 to 2015. The annual event boasted past national champions like Hu Ronghua, Lv Qin, Xu Yinchuan, Xu Tianhong, Zhao Guorong, Tao Hanming, et cetera. There was also a women’s division whereby past women’s national champions did battle. The event was organized by the CXA in collaboration with the local authorities at Jurong
The event was held at the scenic Maoshan Mountain (Wikipedia translation) in Jurong (句容), Jiangsu Province.
The men’s champion’s prize money was one hundred thousand RMB, while the women’s champion pocketed sixty thousand RMB in 2015. (3 页 42) (8)
The following link shows a Youtube video analyzing the match that won him the championship in 2013.
From 2012-2015, the Juezhan Mingshan Cup National Xiangqi Champions Invitational Tournament was held. It was an annual event that was held over a period of time at different venues. The tournament was unique in that it was divided into two legs. There were 6-8 stops for the first leg and a grand final which was the second leg. At each stop, two past national champions would battle to be eligible for the grand finals. The venues were selected mountainous scenic sites in China.
There were also efforts to integrate the event with the common folk. In 2012, a simultaneous online competition was also held (the QQ 游戏天下弈棋 Cup) for three seasons. Over one million participants participated, but only four of the top players were selected to participate and battle against the grandmasters. The URL to the online competition can be found here. (3 页 42-43)
There were several names to the various events for different years to acknowledge the sponsors, which can be confusing for Xiangqi enthusiasts outside of China. The following are the names for the 2013-2015 tournaments. I
The first-ever Bi Gui Yuan Cup was held from the 16-20th of December in 2012. It was a collaboration between the CXA and the Bi Gui Yuan Group. It has become one of the premier annual events in China nowadays, with some of the highest prizes. The tournament winner would pocket six hundred thousand RMB, and the total prize money was 1.14 million RMB. The prize money would increase over the years. In 2020, the winner of the tournament will pocket seven hundred thousand RMB. It is currently the Xiangqi tournament in China with the highest overall prize money.
Only past Xiangqi National Champions were eligible for participation. The grandmasters would draw lots and be divided into two groups. The top two winners from each group would proceed to the next leg of the competition, where they would battle for the championship. Indeed, many older Xiangqi grandmasters like Hu Ronghua, Li Laiqun, Lv Qin, Xu Tianhong, Zhao Guorong, et cetera give the fans much to reminiscence. It is one of the rare events where one of the author’s favorite grandmasters, business tycoon Li Laiqun, could still be seen in action in the 2010s, showing occasional strokes of brilliance and reminding the young guns of his presence.
The time controls have changed slightly over the years. In 2017, the time control for a regular game was 60min+ 10sec. Tiebreaks were decided with a round of rapid chess where both colors would play to a time control of 10 min + 10 sec.
The Bi Gui Yuan Cup is also instrumental in promoting the culture of Xiangqi as many grassroots Xiangqi promoters are recognized and rewarded for their efforts. (3 页 35-42)
The Bi Gui Yuan Cup has its website promoting the event which can be accessed at this URL.
The video shown here is the proceedings conducted when the Grandmasters drew lots to determine the pairings. The top Xiangqi players in the world are shown here.
The God of Wealth Cup is a nationally televised rapid Xiangqi tournament in China. It is the first major tournament to kick off the year and is held together with the Chinese New Year as part of the festivities. The tournament is the combined efforts of the Chinese Xiangqi Association, Guangdong Television (广东电视台) and the Caishen Enterprise (财神集团).
The current tournament format used is a Single Elimination Format with two games played between the competitors. The time format is 6 min+3 sec (for each move played). If the winner cannot be determined, a third game is played where Red would start with five minutes and Black would begin with three minutes. Both colors would increase their time by 3 seconds for every move played. If the tie-breaking game ended in a draw, Black would advance. The tournament does not affect the Elo ratings of the participants.
The brutal competition is exhilarating. Because of the nature of the competition, there are many upsets in every tournament.
The first event was held in 2013, and it has been held annually since then. There have also been other Xiangqi-related festivities that are held in conjunction with the tournament to help promote the game. (3)
The following is a video showing a match in 2017. The video is in Chinese. The commentators are GM Tao Hanming, GM Zhao Guorong, Master Li Hongjia, who made way for GM Zheng Weitong slightly later on.
The following is a list of Xiangqi tournaments in China only (international tournaments have been excluded) that should have made it in the list. They have not been discussed in detail as the author cannot find sufficient information or adequate information to introduce them in slight detail.
There are still many tournaments that could have made it to the list.
There are many Xiangqi tournaments in China. The tournaments covered in this article are only the tip of the iceberg as they belong on a national scale. There are many more times the number of tournaments mentioned above in terms of provincial, city, town, county, et cetera.
Many of the names sound similar and can be pretty confusing for the Xiangqi enthusiast. Nevertheless, the tournaments in China that have had a lasting effect for the past few decades have been listed.
1. 维基百科编者. 五羊杯全国象棋冠军赛. 维基百科，自由的百科全書. [Online] 63828129, Jan 20, 2021. [Cited: Sep 10, 2021.] https://zh.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=%E4%BA%94%E7%BE%8A%E6%9D%AF%E5%85%A8%E5%9B%BD%E8%B1%A1%E6%A3%8B%E5%86%A0%E5%86%9B%E8%B5%9B&oldid=63828129.
2. 天天練象棋. 象棋：曾經的「五羊杯」，成就了多少棋壇豪俠，令人回味無窮. 每日頭條. [Online] May 14, 2019. [Cited: Sep 10, 2021.] https://kknews.cc/zh-tw/sports/jk2m6me.html.
3. 珠江文化. 象棋白皮书 -- 关于象棋现状的调查报告. Guangzhou : 珠江文化, 2019.
4. 四川广安市举行千人象棋车轮大战 众多国手参与. 搜狐新闻. [Online] May 5, 2004. [Cited: Sep 11, 2021.] http://news.sohu.com/2004/05/05/18/news220031827.shtml.
5. 象棋王子. 象棋总决赛决胜局许银川逆转胜 2比1击败洪智夺冠. 新浪体育. [联机] 2010年Jan月10日. [引用日期: 2021年Sep月10日.] http://sports.sina.com.cn/go/2010-01-10/15454783472.shtml.
6. 象棋大奖赛推出主题曲 薛之谦唱响《楚河汉界》. 东方体育日报. [联机] 2009年Dec月13日. [引用日期: 2021年Sep月11日.] https://sports.sohu.com/20091213/n268908706.shtml.
7. 赵博. 年终总决赛总投入高达千万 象棋市场化依然镜中花. 新浪体育. [Online] Jan 10, 2010. [Cited: Sep 11, 2021.] http://sports.sina.com.cn/go/2010-01-11/07364784244.shtml.
8. 刘硕阳. 22位象棋冠军齐聚江苏句容 棋王的“动静”. 人民网. [Online] Apr 25, 2013. [Cited: Sep 11, 2021.] http://sports.people.com.cn/n/2013/0425/c35862-21270868.html.