Played widely in China, Indo-China, the Malayan archipelago, and world-wide where ever Chinese people have settled, Shang Chi is the Chinese version of the game of chess. However, many chess players in addition to playing the Chinese version also play the European version of chess. Thus, Chinese manufactures of chess sets have produced sets that can be used for either version of the game. These special sets are known as "International Chess Sets."
Purchased for the collection in 1972, the photograph at the left is the top of the cardboard box (10.4cm long by 10.3cm wide) for the international version of game. In each of the four corners of the boxtop, a typical Shang Chi piece is illustrated; nevertheless, when the box is opened, one finds that the pieces are reversible - with the Chinese Shang Chi characters on one side, and the standard symbols for European chess pieces on the other side - symbols such as pictured below.
Within the box is a folded paper game board 27.8 cm long by 27cm wide. The board is divided into an 8x8 black and white cell matrix. Along the bottom of the board each cell is labeled with the lower case letters "a" through "h", while the numbers one through eight are along the left side of the board identifying each row. Along the top boarder are a number of Chinese characters indicating that the board can be used for both versions of the game, i.e. - the cells for the European version and the lines for the Chinese version.
Unlike European chess sets, the Shang Chi pieces are round, and marked with Chinese characters identifying their role in the game. The 32 pieces in this set are made of wood and measure 2.3cm in diameter by 1.cm thick. Usually, the colors are red - representing one side - and blue representing the opponents. While both sides have identical pieces with the same powers and roles, their names varies depending upon the color of the pieces. As indicated above, the reverse side of each pieces is marked with either a red or blue European chess symbol.
To view a Chinese Chess Set in the collection and learn more about "Sang Chi", click on the left menu item above.
Last update February 15, 2010