Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Chess vs. Xiangqi


  • Please log in to reply
17 replies to this topic

Poll: Which is more complex, Chess or Xiangqi? (10 member(s) have cast votes)

Which is more complex, Chess or Xiangqi?

  1. Chess (5 votes [50.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 50.00%

  2. Xiangqi (Chinese Chess) (5 votes [50.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 50.00%

Vote Guests cannot vote

#1 somechineseperson

somechineseperson

    Prime Minister (Situ/Chengxiang 司徒/丞相)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 1,650 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Languages spoken:Mandarin Chinese, English
  • Ethnic Groups or Race:Han Chinese (Mainland Chinese)
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese Philosophy
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Chinese Philosophy, Marxism, Religious Philosophy (including Buddhism and Christianity), Chinese History, General World History, History and Philosophy of Science

Posted 29 August 2009 - 07:38 AM

I've been thinking about the question of whether Chess or Xiangqi (Chinese Chess) is strictly speaking the more complex game when viewed from the perspective of complexity theory.

For more information on Chess and Xiangqi, see

Chess:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess
http://www.chessvari...hess/chess.html

Xiangqi:

http://en.wikipedia....i/Chinese_chess
http://www.chessvari...om/xiangqi.html

Using the ideas of complexity theory, the complexity of Chess and Xiangqi can be estimated and calculated quantitatively. In general, there are 3 different kinds of complexity a deterministic board game like Chess or Xiangqi may have:

1 State-space Complexity: the maximum number of possible positions in the game. It is also possible to calculate an upper bound for state-space complexity which includes illegal positions as well. The upper bound is generally speaking much easier to calculate than the exact value, which is often only given as an accurate estimation.

It is generally calculated that the state-space complexity of Chess is around 10^50 (10 to the power of 50, or 1 with 50 zeros after it, or one hundred trillion trillion trillion trillion different positions), while the state-space complexity of Xiangqi is around 10^48, 100 times less than that of Chess. This is because despite a larger board (9 times 10 vs. 8 times 8), Xiangqi pieces are generally speaking less powerful than their Chess equivalents and for many pieces the space over which it can potentially move is severely restricted. In Chess, the King, Queen, Rook and Knight can potentially move to every square on the board, the Pawn can potentially reach more than 6/8th of all the squares (though unlikely to move that much in a real game), and even the Bishop can reach half of all the squares. In Xiangqi the General can only stay inside the Palace and move to 9 different intersections, the Advisor can only move to 5 different intersections and the Elephant only to 7 different intersections.

Another factor is that the Xiangqi board, having 9 files instead of Chess's 8, is symmetrical in the left-right direction. This means the left and right hand sides in Xiangqi are essentially the same, so different board positions may just be a trivial reflection of the other. This decreases the effective state-space complexity of Xiangqi by a factor of 2. In Chess on the other hand, the Kingside and the Queenside are not just a trivial reflection of each other since the distance the King has to the edge of the board is different for the left and right hand sides.

Therefore despite having 90 intersections on the Xiangqi board vs. only 64 squares for Chess, the total number of possible positions is around 100 times more in Chess than Xiangqi, 10^50 vs. 10^48.

2 Game-tree Complexity: roughly speaking this is the total number of possible games one can potentially play with a particular version of board game. This is different from state-space complexity and the value is generally speaking far larger because state-space complexity only takes space and position into account, while game-tree complexity analyses the actual moves in a game and hence also puts time into account. Generally speaking, there are many different ways, in terms of playing the game, to reach a particular position on the board. For instance, the opening position on the chess board with Ng1-f3 and e2-e4 (moving the King's Knight and King's Pawn out) can be reached via two different "game-trees": Nf3 first or e4 first, and the number of possible game-trees for a given board position increases dramatically as one progresses into the game and the position becomes much more complex.

Generally it is estimated that the total number of possible games in Chess is around 10^123 (or 1 with 123 zeros after it), while for Xiangqi it is 10^150, which is 100 million billion times more than Chess. For comparison, consider that the total number of atoms in the observable universe is only around 10^80.

There are far more possible games in Xiangqi since it is played on a larger board (90 instead of 64 spaces), and generally a game of Xiangqi lasts for more moves than a game of Chess. However, given that the Xiangqi board is left-right symmetrical and therefore left-hand side play is identical to right-hand side play, and that since Xiangqi pieces are generally less powerful and the General is restricted to within the Palace, the larger number of possible games in the purely technical sense becomes relatively trivial by the endgame stage, since real play is likely to be always focused around the General's Palace, and different moves elsewhere on the board essentially converges to the same kind of endgames. In other words, whereas in the earlier phase of the game the game-tree of possible moves branches out, by the endgame in Xiangqi they begin to converge into one-another, and Xiangqi games generally end in relatively similar positions (major pieces and pawns around the General's Palace and a relatively exposed General).

In Chess game-trees also tend to converge more by the endgame but since the King can move to anywhere on the board and there is the possibility of pawn promotion, the game converges to a significantly smaller extent than Xiangqi. Also the approximate estimation for the game-tree complexity of Chess does not take into account the re-divergence of the game-tree if enough pawns are promoted into pieces in the endgame. Although in real play this tends to be an unlikely scenario, in technical calculations of game complexity this factor should be included. In addition, when the game-tree complexity of Xiangqi is calculated, unlikely endgame scenarios, such as the game dragging on unnecessarily for dozens of extra moves that are in practice trivial, are also included.

Therefore effectively speaking despite the technically higher game-tree complexity of Xiangqi, I think Chess is actually the more complex game of the two.

3 Computational Complexity: a third way to calculate game complexity is to consider how much computational steps are required to play a Chess or Xiangqi game by a Chess or Xiangqi engine/computer as the actual size of the game increases in space. E.g. if the Chess board size doubles, how much more computational power is required? In this both Chess and Xiangqi are very similar in that computational difficulty increases exponentially (in terms of the number of calculational steps required to play the game) with board size. Thus both games are said to be inside the complexity class called EXPTIME (stands for "exponential time").

Personally despite being an ethnic Chinese and proud of Chinese culture in general, I think Chess is a better game than Xiangqi and I'm a better player in Chess than in Xiangqi. Though of course the Chinese game of Weiqi/Go is far more complex than either of these games mentioned here.

Please comment.

Edited by somechineseperson, 29 August 2009 - 10:41 AM.


#2 somechineseperson

somechineseperson

    Prime Minister (Situ/Chengxiang 司徒/丞相)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 1,650 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Languages spoken:Mandarin Chinese, English
  • Ethnic Groups or Race:Han Chinese (Mainland Chinese)
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese Philosophy
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Chinese Philosophy, Marxism, Religious Philosophy (including Buddhism and Christianity), Chinese History, General World History, History and Philosophy of Science

Posted 29 August 2009 - 08:28 AM

The quantitative complexity of some well-known board games:

SSC = State-Space Complexity = the total number of possible board positions

GTC = Game-Tree Complexity = the total number of possible games


Tic-Tac-Toe (Noughts and Crosses): SSC = 10^3, GTC = 10^5

Connect Four: SSC = 10^14, GTC = 10^21

Checkers (English Draughts): SSC = 10^20, GTC = 10^31

Modern computers have completely solved all deterministic board games up to the complexity of Checkers, Checkers was solved in 2007. With best play, a game of Checkers would always end in a draw.

Reversi (Othello): SSC = 10^28, GTC = 10^58

Gomoku (Wuzi Qi): SSC = 10^105, GTC = 10^70

Chess: SSC = 10^50, GTC = 10^123 (Game-tree complexity estimation not including unlikely endgame scenarios based on multiple pawn promotion)

Xiangqi (Chinese Chess): SSC = 10^48, GTC = 10^150

Shogi (Japanese Chess): SSC = 10^71, GTC = 10^226

Go (Weiqi): SSC = 10^171, GTC = 10^360

In terms of game complexity, one could say that Go is to Chess what Chess is to Tic-Tac-Toe, in fact even more so.

#3 somechineseperson

somechineseperson

    Prime Minister (Situ/Chengxiang 司徒/丞相)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 1,650 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Languages spoken:Mandarin Chinese, English
  • Ethnic Groups or Race:Han Chinese (Mainland Chinese)
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese Philosophy
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Chinese Philosophy, Marxism, Religious Philosophy (including Buddhism and Christianity), Chinese History, General World History, History and Philosophy of Science

Posted 29 August 2009 - 08:39 AM

I think Chess is a better game than Xiangqi also due to some of the following factors:

1) Chess is more mathematically elegant. There are less arbitrary rules in Chess, such as the presence of the River and Palaces in Xiangqi. The Chess board is simply geometrically uniform, with no arbitrary features. The only two arbitrary rules in Chess are Castling and the Two-Move rule (and also En Passant) for Pawns, otherwise all piece and pawn moves in Chess are geometrically simple and symmetrical.

Of course, Go/Weiqi is a lot more mathematically elegant (in terms of having the possibility of an extremely complex game based on extremely simple initial rules) than either Chess or Xiangqi.

2) The piece moves are more geometrically balanced in Chess than in Xiangqi, in Xiangqi there are no piece that plays on the diagonals, so the game essentially only focuses on orthogonal play (ranks and files). But in Chess there is a mathematical balance between the diagonal and the orthogonal directions: the two Rooks only move orthogonally, the two Bishops only move diagonally, while the Queen combines the orthogonal and diagonal movements of the Rooks and the Bishops. The importance of diagonal play essentially adds an extra "dimension" in Chess and significantly increases effective gameplay complexity.

3) Gameplay in Chess is also more balanced. There is an equal emphasis on tactical and positional play, due to the importance of pawn structure and pawn formation. In Xiangqi virtually all gameplay is directly tactical.

4) Endgames in Chess are more complex and interesting, due to the fact that the King can move all over the board and be used as an attacking piece, and the possibility of pawn promotion. In Xiangqi most endgames become a tactical onslaught with major pieces around the opponent's exposed or semi-exposed General in the region of the Palace. The fact that Stalemate counts as a draw rather than a win for the attacking side also provides more balance between Offence and Defence.

I think Chess and Go/Weiqi are the two greatest games created by human civilisation. Chess, being less complex and shorter, is more suited for casual play while Go/Weiqi is more suited for professional board game players.

Edited by somechineseperson, 29 August 2009 - 10:43 AM.


#4 somechineseperson

somechineseperson

    Prime Minister (Situ/Chengxiang 司徒/丞相)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 1,650 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Languages spoken:Mandarin Chinese, English
  • Ethnic Groups or Race:Han Chinese (Mainland Chinese)
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese Philosophy
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Chinese Philosophy, Marxism, Religious Philosophy (including Buddhism and Christianity), Chinese History, General World History, History and Philosophy of Science

Posted 29 August 2009 - 08:58 AM

In principle, it is definitely possible to solve Chess, just like how any human individual with some time on their hand can completely solve Tic-Tac-Toe. That is to say, in principle, a Chess Engine/Computer that has completely solved the game would never lose because it has already analysed all of the 10^123 game-trees and always plays the best move in every possible position. The fact that up to now Chess is still unsolved is only due to insufficient computational power, not due to theoretical constraints.

How long would it take for a Chess Engine to completely solve the game of Chess, that is to say, analyse every single possible game that can be played and go through every single one of the 10^123 game-trees? This can be easily estimated based on a few initial values.

Firstly, consider the lower bound in terms of State-Space Complexity:

Assume the processing speed of the Chess Engine is 1 billion billion billion Hz (Hz = calculation per second), that is to say, in a single second the Chess Engine can make 10^27 calculations, which is on the magnitude of 1 billion billion times faster than average personal computers in use now, and is significantly beyond even the fastest of supercomputers in the world today or in the foreseeable future.

Given the State-Space Complexity of Chess is 10^50, assuming that in each calculation the Chess Engine can analyse a distinct board position, which is a very optimistic estimation, it would take 10^23 seconds to go through every possible board position for the game of Chess. 10^23 seconds is approximately 3 x 10^15 years, or 3 million billion years. For comparison, consider that our entire universe is only 20 billion years old at most.

Second, consider the upper bound in terms of Game-Tree Complexity:

Also assume that the average chess game lasts 30 moves (each move consists of moves by both sides) or 60 plies (individual white or black moves), and that the Chess Engine needs to analyse each ply for 1 billon billionth of a second to fully determine the best move. (For comparison, consider that when hobby players use commercial softwares like Fritz to analyse their games on a personal computer, usually the softwares uses 30 seconds at least for each ply or half a move, since our hypothetical Chess Engine is 1 billion billion times faster than the average personal computer, 1 billion billionth of a second is a reasonable estimate for the analysis of each ply)

Therefore to analyse a single game or a single branch on the entire game-tree of Chess the Chess Engine requires 30 million billionth of a second, and for 10^123 games (the total number of possible games in Chess), it would require on average 3 x 10^117 seconds, or roughly 10^110 years (or 10 thousand trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillon trillion years).

In actual practice the amount of time required is definitely much much higher than the lower bound (3 million billion years) but is likely to also be significantly lower than the upper bound of 10^110 years, since a Chess Engine is a lot more "intelligent" than just analysing the entire Chess game-tree by brute force alone, it would also utilise a huge number of heuristics, as well as existing data on openings and endgames to significantly save time. Still, a time scale billions and billions times longer than the entire life-span of the entire universe is definitely required to analyse every single possible position and game in Chess.

Therefore unless humanity someday invents Quantum Computers, the game of Chess is in practice unsolvable, despite being definitely solvable in principle. Computers simply do not have enough brute power to achieve this task.

Edited by somechineseperson, 29 August 2009 - 10:46 AM.


#5 somechineseperson

somechineseperson

    Prime Minister (Situ/Chengxiang 司徒/丞相)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 1,650 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Languages spoken:Mandarin Chinese, English
  • Ethnic Groups or Race:Han Chinese (Mainland Chinese)
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese Philosophy
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Chinese Philosophy, Marxism, Religious Philosophy (including Buddhism and Christianity), Chinese History, General World History, History and Philosophy of Science

Posted 29 August 2009 - 09:41 AM

An interesting point to consider here is that the game of Chess is like a "mini-universe". Therefore the fact that Chess can be completely solved in principle raises the interesting question of can our physical universe be completely solved in principle?

A hypothetical Computer that has completely solved the universe would be effectively omnipotent and omniscient with respect to the universe, just as a Chess Engine that has completely solved the game of Chess would never lose a single game ever.

Of course, if quantum logic is inherently real, then this is not possible, since the universe would be random at the most fundamental level. However, Einstein was insistent that "God does not play dice", and that the seemingly random nature of quantum mechanics is perhaps only a reflection of the fact that humanity still does not understand the universe enough, therefore "random chance" is plugged into where our knowledge has significant gaps, much like how theistic creationists plug in "god" where-ever we don't seem to understand something. Since we still know so little about the fundamental mechanics of the physical universe, we are not really qualified to insist that the universe is inherently non-deterministic. Of course, we certainly cannot insist that the universe must be deterministic either, like Laplace did in the past. But objectively the question should still be open, and will probably remain open for a long time to come.

In the future, if quantum field theory becomes genuinely combined with general relativity into a quantum theory of gravity, then it may turn out that Einstein is correct and that our universe is really not fundamentally non-deterministic.

If this is really the case, then in principle the universe should be able to be solved, just as deterministic board games like Chess can in principle definitely be solved by a hypothetically extremely powerful computer. What this means is that if the universe is fundamentally deterministic, then it must be the case that in principle a sufficiently advanced computer can literally solve the entire universe and become God - i.e. omnipotent and omniscient relative to the entire universe.

However, even in such a case (and we don't know whether the universe is fundamentally deterministic or not), there are still two relatively fundamental points to consider:

1) The game of Chess is fundamentally very simple. The entire "mini-universe" of Chess consists of no more than 64 discrete spatial values (or squares), no more than 200 discrete temporal values (or plies - for virtually all games), no more than 32 atomic units of matter (or pieces) of only 6 different kinds. The laws of this "mini-universe" are completely determined into a few very simple principles.

Yet despite the seemingly simplistic character of the Chess "mini-universe", to completely solve Chess would require computational resources that far exceed the material capacities of the entire physical universe we live in, a region of 3-dimensional space with 100 billion galaxies, each with at least 10 billion stars on average.

If one extrapolates this by a simple analogical relation, then it is certain that even if our entire physical universe is in principle solvable, the computational resources required for this would certainly exceed everything that is available in the entire universe itself. Just as it is utterly impossible for a chess piece to solve Chess, it is also utterly impossible for any intelligence or computational system that is limited within the physical universe to solve the physical universe itself.

To make solving the universe a pratical possibility, one would have to assume the existence of a multi-verse that is potentially un-imaginably larger than the universe itself.

This actually raises an interesting consequence that has a theological significance. It shows that the kind of God in Judeo-Christian ideology, who is absolutely powerful and eternally immutable is a logical impossibility. (But potentially the existence of "gods" in the Asian sense, e.g. devas in Hinduism and Buddhism or shen-xian in Daoism, still cannot be ruled out in this manner)

Why is this the case? Consider that a Being or Computational System that has solved our entire universe would become effectively a God with respect to our universe, but in principle if such a solution becomes a reality we must assume that an unimaginably large multiverse exists outside of our universe. Therefore a Being or Computational System that is a God (omniscient and omnipotent) relative to our universe might still be a noob in the larger picture of things. Just like someone who has solved the simple game of Tic-Tac-Toe (any one of us can do this) is a God relative to the simple Tic-Tac-Toe "mini-universe", but in our world such a person might still just be a homeless beggar.

This fits in with the Buddhist philosophical idea that for every level of devas, there are always higher levels, and it also fits in with the ancient Chinese proverb "beyond the heavens there are always more heavens".

2) The matter of Subjectivity. The game of Chess has a singular "ultimate goal", to checkmate one's opponent. Therefore in terms of subjectivity there is no variation in the Chess "mini-universe", everything that happens in this "mini-universe" is assumed to be geared towards the ultimate goal of checkmating the opponent. Such is the simple "reason for existence" of the Chess world.

However, our universe is not only unimaginably more complex than the game of Chess, but also that there does not seem to be a clear and simple teleological goal as in the game of Chess. Unless one believes that our universe is ultimately created by someone outside of it and is designed to have a certain teleological purpose, like how humans created the "mini-universe" of Chess, then before one even considers the computational possibilities of solving our universe in both principle and practice, one has to deal with the more fundamental philosophical question first: what does it actually mean to "solve" the universe? Such a question may not have any intrinsic meaning for a non-teleological universe that has no overall design, purpose and goal, and one in which subjective values have a relativistic character.

Edited by somechineseperson, 29 August 2009 - 09:49 AM.


#6 Lacrymosa

Lacrymosa

    General of the Guard (Hujun Zhongwei/Jinjun Tongshuai 护军中尉/禁军统帅)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 110 posts

Posted 01 September 2009 - 02:42 PM

I wonder why there is so much similarity between chess and chinese chess. The way bishop, horse, rook and pawns move and their starting positions seem to be more than just coincident. "Go" on the other hand is a completely different game.

#7 somechineseperson

somechineseperson

    Prime Minister (Situ/Chengxiang 司徒/丞相)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 1,650 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Languages spoken:Mandarin Chinese, English
  • Ethnic Groups or Race:Han Chinese (Mainland Chinese)
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese Philosophy
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Chinese Philosophy, Marxism, Religious Philosophy (including Buddhism and Christianity), Chinese History, General World History, History and Philosophy of Science

Posted 01 September 2009 - 03:46 PM

The most likely answer is that both Chess and Xiangqi originated from the ancient Indian game of Chaturanga:

http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Chaturanga
http://www.chessvari...chaturanga.html

http://www.chessvari....com/shogi.html

"The world's first chess variant Chaturanga arose in India in approximately the seventh century AD. From there it migrated both westward and northward, mutating along the way. The western branch became Shatranj in Arabia and Orthodox Chess in Europe. The northern branch became Xiangqi in China and Changgi in Korea. Sometime in the 10th to 12th centuries, 'chess' crossed the channel to Japan where it spawned a number of interesting variants."

Edited by somechineseperson, 01 September 2009 - 04:12 PM.


#8 tealeaf

tealeaf

    Provincial Governor (Cishi 刺史)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 49 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:York, UK
  • Interests:I'm a keen Go (围棋) player, but also dabble in Chess and Xiangqi (象棋). I also play Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art/dance, a lot.

    I'm very interested in Chinese language and culture. Specifically, I'm interested in linguistic features of Chinese, as well as learning the language; I'm also interested in mythology and symbolism in Chinese culture.

    I'm a dedicated tea drinker, and am always interested to learn about the history of Chinese teas and their development.

    I'm mainly uninterested in the history of wars, battles or the details of weaponry or armour.

    Apart from the IM addresses listed, I'm on QQ (858436181). I'd love to practise (Mandarin) Chinese with anyone there just add me!
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Any chinese-related stuff
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Go (围棋), Tea

Posted 01 September 2009 - 04:33 PM

The most likely answer is that both Chess and Xiangqi originated from the ancient Indian game of Chaturanga:

http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Chaturanga
http://www.chessvari...chaturanga.html

http://www.chessvari....com/shogi.html

"The world's first chess variant Chaturanga arose in India in approximately the seventh century AD. From there it migrated both westward and northward, mutating along the way. The western branch became Shatranj in Arabia and Orthodox Chess in Europe. The northern branch became Xiangqi in China and Changgi in Korea. Sometime in the 10th to 12th centuries, 'chess' crossed the channel to Japan where it spawned a number of interesting variants."


The hypothesis that Chaturanga was the original version of chess, and spawned the other version, is very much open to debate. If I recall correctly, it was stated by Murray in his "History of Chess" without any apparent references or justification. That was taken up by other works, including the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, but as far as I'm aware it has little more than historical weight to support it.

I'm not saying that Chaturanga wasn't the origin of chess and other chess-like games, I'm just saying that it's not a known historical fact.

(I apologise for not backing this up with references, but I'm incredibly tired. I wouldn't normally have replied until tomorrow, but you seemed to be posting a lot, and I wanted to get this post in the right place in the thread!)

EDIT: http://banaschak.net...ach/origins.htm -- I'm not sure how reliable this source is, but it's an interesting read.

Edited by tealeaf, 01 September 2009 - 04:34 PM.

山僧对棋坐,局上竹阴清。映竹无人见,时闻下子声。
http://www.pseudonymity.net/~joss/

#9 somechineseperson

somechineseperson

    Prime Minister (Situ/Chengxiang 司徒/丞相)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 1,650 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Languages spoken:Mandarin Chinese, English
  • Ethnic Groups or Race:Han Chinese (Mainland Chinese)
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese Philosophy
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Chinese Philosophy, Marxism, Religious Philosophy (including Buddhism and Christianity), Chinese History, General World History, History and Philosophy of Science

Posted 01 September 2009 - 04:58 PM

While the Chinese name "Xiang qi" may be very ancient, the actual modern game of Xiangqi is not. There is simply no direct evidence of any Xiangqi-like board games in ancient China prior to the Tang Dynasty, after the emergence of Chaturanga in India and Shatranj in Persia. During the Han Dynasty China only had Go (Weiqi) and Liubo, but both are unlikely to be the direct ancestor of Xiangqi, since they are very different games. Some Chinese scholars consider Liubo to be the ancestor of Xiangqi but Liubo was a completely different game (even more different from Xiangqi than Go is) based on chance and played with an ancient Chinese version of the dice. (Similar in many ways to the ancient Egyptian game of Senet)

While it is true there is insufficient evidence for Chaturanga, there is a lot of direct evidence for Shatranj (Persian Chess), which emerged only very shortly after Chaturanga, and is extremely similar to it. (In fact, they are essentially the same game with only 1 or 2 rules different) There is a wealth of primary historical sources on Persian Shatranj, certainly much more than for pre-Xiangqi Chinese board games. Indeed, Shatranj is still actively played in some parts of the Middle East today. The key thing is that ancient Persian and Arab sources never mention China as the birthplace of Shatranj, but clearly state that Indian Chaturanga is the direct ancestor of Shatranj.

http://www.chessvari...r/shatranj.html

Personally I don't know why many Chinese people feel so strongly about this, as if this is some kind of "nationalistic contest". (I am Chinese myself and also proud of Chinese culture in general, but certainly not everything is a "nationalistic contest") China, after all is the birth-place of Go/Weiqi, the most complex and mathematically elegant board game in all of human history. And India is also an Asian country. It's not like the Western scholars are being Eurocentric for suggesting that Chess originated in India rather than China. It's just a purely academic question.

Actually if one examines ancient Indian and Persian Chess, you actually find that contemporary Chess is technically speaking just a variant of ancient Chess, since the rules and pieces are so similar to each other. Therefore technically both "Chinese Chess" and "Western Chess" are actually ultimately Asian.

I think it is generally speaking more likely that Chess originated in India rather than China because it is also the direction of the spread of Buddhism in ancient times, and Xiangqi only emerged in China during the Tang dynasty after Buddhism became popular. During the Han dynasty there was no Xiangqi or any Xiangqi-like board game. There were only Go/Weiqi and Liubo. Some Chinese scholars claim that Liubo was the ancestor of Xiangqi, but this is unlikely because Liubo is actually more different from Xiangqi than Go is. It is technically more logical to assume that Go was the ancestor of Xiangqi than to label Liubo as the ancestor. Liubo was a game based on chance and played with dice (or the ancient Chinese equivalent of dice), similar in many ways to the ancient Egyptian game of Senet. To say that Liubo is the ancestor of Xiangqi is like saying the ancient Egyptian game of Senet is the ancestor of Chess. It is not really possible.

It is true that as of yet there is still no conclusive answer to the question of the origin of Chess, but India is objectively more likely to be the birthplace of Chess than China is.

Edited by somechineseperson, 01 September 2009 - 05:00 PM.


#10 sunflower1

sunflower1

    Grand Mentor (Taishi 太师)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 414 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese History
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    none

Posted 01 September 2009 - 10:29 PM

I am an avid fan of chess and very welcome to article like this.

I play both Xiang Qi and to Chess. In general if you bother to see a book written by first Chinese International Master Liu Wenzhe (http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Liu_Wenzhe) The Chinese School of Chess. Batsford, there he give a bried intro to the chess history. But since he is not a historian, the interesting point is he compared the two games in term of by strategic playing. Mr. Liu pointed that in Xiang Qi since the pawns is less critical and less number, there is more open games in Xiang Qi rather than in Chess. a Xiang Qi player when converted his skill to CHess, he will good in middle games. Therefore in many illustrated game from the book, mr. Liu shows how current chinese chess player usually win over "western" player because of his superior middle game.

In term of complexity I can't be sure if Chess is more complex than Xiang Qi, but by given mathematical reason above that is reasonable to believe it is true. The things I know is, today computer chess is very strong and can win the best human player in a big chance. I am not sure how computer had achieved in Xiang Qi, but in Shogi, the computer is still considered weak to human player, the reason is in Shogi it is much more complex game than chess . The "drop" concept in Shogi give the game in only two phase - Opening and Middle games, and no end game. End game is considered the only phase in chess where there is an "exact" way to find the best move. Computer is usually use an Endgame database to win human player, by not have this endgame phase, computer is force to use his algorythm to find the best move, this is the point where human still able to beat computer.

#11 tealeaf

tealeaf

    Provincial Governor (Cishi 刺史)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 49 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:York, UK
  • Interests:I'm a keen Go (围棋) player, but also dabble in Chess and Xiangqi (象棋). I also play Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art/dance, a lot.

    I'm very interested in Chinese language and culture. Specifically, I'm interested in linguistic features of Chinese, as well as learning the language; I'm also interested in mythology and symbolism in Chinese culture.

    I'm a dedicated tea drinker, and am always interested to learn about the history of Chinese teas and their development.

    I'm mainly uninterested in the history of wars, battles or the details of weaponry or armour.

    Apart from the IM addresses listed, I'm on QQ (858436181). I'd love to practise (Mandarin) Chinese with anyone there just add me!
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Any chinese-related stuff
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Go (围棋), Tea

Posted 02 September 2009 - 01:39 AM

It is technically more logical to assume that Go was the ancestor of Xiangqi than to label Liubo as the ancestor. Liubo was a game based on chance and played with dice (or the ancient Chinese equivalent of dice), similar in many ways to the ancient Egyptian game of Senet. To say that Liubo is the ancestor of Xiangqi is like saying the ancient Egyptian game of Senet is the ancestor of Chess. It is not really possible.


I do agree with most of what you say, and given the dates and similarity of the games it does seem likely that Xianqi developed from Chaturanga. I'm not Chinese, and have no nationalistic reasons to claim the game's origin!

I would pick you up on the above point, though. It is known that early versions of chess, and its variants, made use of dice as an element of chance.

Edited by tealeaf, 02 September 2009 - 02:12 AM.

山僧对棋坐,局上竹阴清。映竹无人见,时闻下子声。
http://www.pseudonymity.net/~joss/

#12 somechineseperson

somechineseperson

    Prime Minister (Situ/Chengxiang 司徒/丞相)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 1,650 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Languages spoken:Mandarin Chinese, English
  • Ethnic Groups or Race:Han Chinese (Mainland Chinese)
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese Philosophy
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Chinese Philosophy, Marxism, Religious Philosophy (including Buddhism and Christianity), Chinese History, General World History, History and Philosophy of Science

Posted 02 September 2009 - 07:01 AM

I am not sure how computer had achieved in Xiang Qi, but in Shogi, the computer is still considered weak to human player, the reason is in Shogi it is much more complex game than chess . The "drop" concept in Shogi give the game in only two phase - Opening and Middle games, and no end game. End game is considered the only phase in chess where there is an "exact" way to find the best move. Computer is usually use an Endgame database to win human player, by not have this endgame phase, computer is force to use his algorythm to find the best move, this is the point where human still able to beat computer.


Yes, Shogi (Japanese Chess) is more than 100 orders of magnitude (1 with 100 zeroes after it) more complex than Chess, in terms of Game-tree complexity. It is by far the most complex chess variant, out of Shatranj, Chess, Xiangqi, Changgi (Korean Chess) and Makruk (Thai Chess).

Historically Shogi developed from mixing elements from both Changgi and Makruk.

The only major board game more complex than Shogi is Go (Weiqi), the most complex board game in all of human history. (Go indeed was invented in China, at least 2500 years ago, if not more) The best Go computers can only reach a lower-intermediate level.

Xiangqi computers are generally not as good as Chess computers because firstly less efforts have so far being invested in building Xiangqi computers and secondly Xiangqi being "one giant middle-game" makes designing a grandmaster level computer more difficult, as there are less opening and endgame theories to rely on to reduce calculation time.

I am an avid fan of chess and very welcome to article like this.

I play both Xiang Qi and to Chess. In general if you bother to see a book written by first Chinese International Master Liu Wenzhe (http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Liu_Wenzhe) The Chinese School of Chess. Batsford, there he give a bried intro to the chess history.


Yes, I've heard of the book. In fact I know a place to buy it at the discounted price of only 5, so I might buy it soon.

#13 somechineseperson

somechineseperson

    Prime Minister (Situ/Chengxiang 司徒/丞相)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 1,650 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Languages spoken:Mandarin Chinese, English
  • Ethnic Groups or Race:Han Chinese (Mainland Chinese)
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese Philosophy
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Chinese Philosophy, Marxism, Religious Philosophy (including Buddhism and Christianity), Chinese History, General World History, History and Philosophy of Science

Posted 02 September 2009 - 07:45 AM

http://www.chessbase...asp?newsid=2455
http://www.chessbase...asp?newsid=2515

Two interesting interviews of Prof. David Li, who argues that Xiangqi is better than Chess and much older too.

#14 sunflower1

sunflower1

    Grand Mentor (Taishi 太师)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 414 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese History
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    none

Posted 02 September 2009 - 07:57 PM

And chessbase story on Shogi : http://www.chessbase...asp?newsid=4544
http://www.chessbase....asp?newsid=314

#15 tealeaf

tealeaf

    Provincial Governor (Cishi 刺史)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 49 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:York, UK
  • Interests:I'm a keen Go (围棋) player, but also dabble in Chess and Xiangqi (象棋). I also play Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art/dance, a lot.

    I'm very interested in Chinese language and culture. Specifically, I'm interested in linguistic features of Chinese, as well as learning the language; I'm also interested in mythology and symbolism in Chinese culture.

    I'm a dedicated tea drinker, and am always interested to learn about the history of Chinese teas and their development.

    I'm mainly uninterested in the history of wars, battles or the details of weaponry or armour.

    Apart from the IM addresses listed, I'm on QQ (858436181). I'd love to practise (Mandarin) Chinese with anyone there just add me!
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Any chinese-related stuff
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Go (围棋), Tea

Posted 17 September 2009 - 02:45 AM

One thing that I don't think was mentioned here is the consideration of evaluation functions.

It's true that Go typically has a much higher branching factor than the chess variants, but the major difficulty for computer programs that play Go is in evaluating how good a move is. In chess and its variants there are a few relatively simple rules that allow you to quantify whether you're winning or losing, or whether a move is good or bad. In Go, no-one really knows of a good way to quantify how good a move is in the general case. (Obviously, the rules for chess aren't trivial, but they are quite well understood.)

The result of this is that the strongest Go playing programs avoid a direct evaluation function by using a technique called Monte-Carlo Tree Search. The idea is that for each potential move, the computer internally plays out the rest of the game with random moves from both sides. At the end of the game, it notes whether it would have won or lost. It then repeats this thousands and thousands of times for each potential move. If the potential move leads to more wins than losses for the computer, it's probably a good move. The more wins come out with random play, the better. There are refinements to this approach, but that's the basic idea. It's very "blind", and very computationally expensive. It is, however, making by far the strongest programs around today.
山僧对棋坐,局上竹阴清。映竹无人见,时闻下子声。
http://www.pseudonymity.net/~joss/




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users