Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Proctological ventriloquist talks about Chinese chess

[I wrote this at the weekend after reading a cheesbase article which kind of irritated me, so this is just me getting it off my chest! Read on...]

I like Western chess and I like Chinese chess, but I what I don't much like is when people start saying that one is somehow better than the other. This is a futile exercise, like arguing that apples are superior to oranges or vice versa.

A recent article at chessbase.com, probably the best and most influential chess site on the net, was an interview conducted with a real stick-in-the-mud Chinese professor who, for the most part, talked a whole load of crap.

Here are some choice nuggets from parts I and II of the interview.
Professor Li believes that:

1. Chinese chess is harder than Western chess.
2. Western chess should be renamed 'Queen-qi'. He's serious about that.
3. The main reason that most Western and Indian scholars dispute his claim that chess originated in China, not India, is 'Western arrogance'.
4. There is a lack of action in Western chess.
5. The use of figurine pieces in Western chess has focused attention on the artistry of the pieces and diverted attention away from the artistry of playing the game.

Reading the interview, it really makes me wonder to which end of Professor Li the interviewer, Dr. Rene Gralla, was holding the microphone.

Prof Li is dead against using figurine pieces in Chinese chess. It's not clear if he means in all games or only in international games. I can understand his resistance to the idea when the game is played at grandmaster levels, but what better way to promote the game outside of Chinese-speaking nations? He says he feels it his duty to promote Chinese culture but he definitely has a chip in his shoulder about 'Western cultural imperialism'.

Photo by Christoph Harder

No comments: