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Archive for June 30th, 2010

Your Move, Najib…

… opponent is preparing (his next move) to cross the river. Get across before him; get the chariot .

Najib Razak:

“I know how to play the normal chess but not Chinese chess. That was my first experience, I do not know the moves yet, it’s quite different from normal chess.”

Quick, preliminary notes on “Chinese chess”:

  • Actual name: xiangqi 象棋, literally “image” or “figure game”, with origins during the Spring and Autumn period (c 700 BC). Division line on the board is the river Chu, 楚河, one of several sovereign states in multi-state China circa 1,000 BC.
  • Western chess pieces are closely related in configuration and moves to xiangqi except for two crucial strategic differences: (a) at the base line there is a fixed area, the square box, to which the top figure, the “general” or “marshal” – there is neither king nor queen – resides alone with his twin advisors or ministers beside him. None of the three leave the box. (b) Chinese pieces simulate an open field battle situation, not centered on a king (in Western chess) so that getting many across the river by capturing the enemy pieces takes precedence over fortressing.
  • Xiangqi relies not on a single powerful figure, the Queen in Western chess, but on three pairs to conduct an assault across the river. Two of these (1) the chariot or che 車 and (2) the horse ma 馬, are the equivalent of the Western rook and the knight in roles and moves. The third pair, cannon or pao 砲 is not in Western chess. Bishop substitutes for elephant, xiang 象, and doesn’t cross the river so it’s role is defensive.
  • As in Western chess, the objective is still the capture of the general but because he can go nowhere else a strategic difference to Western chess arises.

Your next move?

Anwar Ibrahim – the 將 – is already boxed in. His strength is not inside the box, internal with his advisors and PKR cohorts (the 士, Amin, Eli Wong, Tian Chua et al are liabilities). But rather it’s in the twin chariots – the che 車 – to the right PAS and left DAP. Cross the river, on their home ground skewer them.

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