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Chinese Weiqi, the Game of Black and White


Weiqi is the Chinese name for the classic board game usually known in English as Go. Called ‘yi’ in ancient China, the game has a history of over 3,000 years; it can be regarded as the originator of all ancient chess games. Weiqi is a strategic board game between two players respectively using black and white game pieces. The fantastic Weiqi embodies ancient Chinese philosophy and cultural profoundness and at the same time involves lots of flexible strategies.




According to ancient books, weiqi was invented by the legendary Chinese emperor Yao and his counselor Shun. This attribution indicates the incredibly early time the game originated. In the Spring and Autumn Period, people would use terms in weiqi like “ju qi bu ding” (meaning “holding a game piece but not sure what move to make”) to describe vacillation in politics. It’s quite clear how popular the game was at that time. Later, numerous talented weiqi players emerged in all dynasties and many emperors in ancient China were weiqi lovers, such as Cao Cao, a great general in Eastern Han Dynasty and Zhu Yuanzhang, first emperor of the Ming Dynasty. There were lots of interesting stories about weiqi in Chinese history. In the Yuan Dynasty, the famous book on weiqi ‘Xuanxuan Qijing’ (The Classic of the Mystery of the Mysterious) came out. It was a glorious example of comprehensive weiqi works in ancient China.


The rules of weiqi are very simple but there’s plenty of choice to move the game pieces, with countless variations of strategies. This is where the charm of the game lies. The time for one round of weiqi can be as short as 15 minutes or as long as a few days. In most cases, though, it takes one or two hours to finish one round.


Weiqi is a game that combines science, art and competition. It’s perfect for intelligence boosting, personality cultivation and flexible strategy learning. It’s no wonder the game has been popular for thousands of years and is gradually becoming an international cultural game.



Characteristics and Philosophies



Playing weiqi requires players to be initiative and creative. Chess players have full autonomy of the game, and this autonomy reflects a players’ thinking depth and their biggest initiative. It is said we can never duplicate a weiqi game; this is the charm of weiqi.


Equality ideology

Weiqi can reflect the thoughts of equality. In a Chinese chess game, the different roles of different chess pieces to some degree present hierarchy, but weiqi is different; before the start of the game, all the pieces have the same identity, status and value; only when they are placed at different positions can they have different values. In addition, there are no limits or restrictions of the moves of pieces; the pieces can be placed anywhere on the board.


Overall concept

The overall concepts are the most important in a weiqi game. In the competitive process, players should not only pay attention to immediate interests, but also grasp the long-term interests. In order to obtain their own long-term and overall interests; sometimes players have to sacrifice the immediate and partial interests. Sometimes players have to abandon some chess pieces to reverse the disadvantaged situation and achieve a comeback.

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