Intro to Chinese Chess: Its Strategy, History and Cultural Significance Course Description

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Intro to Chinese Chess: Its Strategy, History and Cultural Significance

Course Description

This course offers students an opportunity to learn and play Chinese Chess and understand the culture of Chinese community. Chinese Chess has over 2000-year-history and is a powerful means of being a part of Chinese communities.


Chinese Chess, or Xiangqi is a military strategy game similar to western chess. It has a long history from the first century AD, during the Warring States Period. It was first created for model the critical battle between two ethnicities in China (One of them finally became the dominated ethnicity in China). It has been improved and many strategy books were written throughout centuries.

Chinese chess has 7 kinds of pieces each side and 9*10 board. The goal, like western chess, is to kill the opposite general. It has unique cannon piece with special movements to shoot only the second piece before it. It’s a very strategic game (considering its larger board and more complicated movements than western chess) and the difference between skillful player and beginner is distinctive. The competition system is well-established in China and thousands of children study this game in various education agencies or from personal mentors. Usually, each formal competition game lasts longer than 1.5 hours.

Another important component of Chinese chess is its cultural significance. Nowadays, Chinese chess has become one most popular intelligent entertainment among Chinese community (Also in Vietnam). Almost everyone in China, more or less, knows how to play Chinese and people associate with each other by playing chess. It’s very common to see people playing on the streets, in clubs, or in the backyards. Every public chess playing welcomes guests to watch and comment, and therefore usually there are a lot of people surrounding one chess board. If one could provide intelligent strategies, he or she would immediately become a part of the community. It’s a good starting point to understand Chinese culture and know Chinese people.

As Rice puts much emphasis on international study especially China recently, Chinese chess is a very good approach to study Chinese culture while cultivating strategic thinking and entertaining.



Class Participation (30%): Students are encouraged to talk and talk beyond the chess board and to discuss history and culture of China. Students receive their participation grade through sharing their insights, commenting a strategy in the chess game or any showing their effort in being involved in class activities.

In Class Mini-match (30%): Throughout the year, there will be many mini-match played in class. Both sides will get 3 points by showing their understanding of the roles and the strategy taught in the class. Winner will get 1 extra point, and any creative and effective strategy results in 1 point reward. At the end of the semester, the average points are calculated.

5 Online Chess Games (20%): Students will be provided access to Internet Chinese Chess playing with people in China. Participation, understanding of the strategies and perseverance are graded.

One Test of the Chinese Language and History Involved in the Chinese Chess (20%): This is a quiz at the end of the semester to test what students learned besides only playing this game.

Attendance: Students have 4 times free absences (excused or unexcused) and after that each time absence results in a 1/3 letter deduction from your final score.

Week 1

The history of Chinese chess and its influence on Chinese communities nowadays. (Common scenes, people’s customs in playing chess and watching chess, some anticipated reactions)

Week 2

Learn the basic role and movement of each piece, the roles of the game, piece value and terminologies used in strategy description and chess play recording.

Week 3

Strategies for beginning stage. Practice and discussion about pros and cons of each strategy taught, the difference and similarity between western chess and Chinese chess.

Week 4

More strategies for beginning stage of the game. Common Mistakes and counter-strategies. Practice and mini-match.

Week 5

Strategies for particular situations and interesting strategies. Mini-match based on the strategies learnt today.

Week 6

More strategies and practice of the middle stage of the game. Speed mini-match.

Week 7

Playing as many matches as possible and finding the faults made in each game to improve future strategies.

Week 8

A case study of a national champion’s play. Discussion.

Week 9

Intro to the end stage of the game. Check techniques, anticipation techniques and other practical strategies.

Week 10

The end stage of the game. Mini-match based on the end stage game.

Week 11

Classic chess situations study and solving. Understand the underlining principle of each game.

Week 12

A regular competition. And a few speed competitions.

Week 13

How to make Chinese friends from chess and other powerful means of demonstrating profound understanding of Chinese culture and history.

Week 14

Final quiz. Play. Free discussion.

Computer Policy:

Students are strongly encouraged to bring their laptops to the class. Laptops not only are able to serve as the board of Chinese, but also are class text book as most of the contents of the class and knowledge will be sent electronically.

The online Chinese chess platforms and resource websites are well established and the game has been powerfully computerized. So take advantage of this opportunity!

Course Expenses

A classroom with projector is needed. Besides, there’s virtually no cost on students’ side as most of the material will be electronic.

Mentor Information

William B. Parsons , Associate Professor, Religious Studies

RESEARCH INTERESTS: William Parsons is Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies. His research interests include Asian religions, mysticism and psychological/cultural methodologies.

CONTACT:  Humanities 219  |  713 348-2712

Contact Information

Li Xiong

Brown College. 804.


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