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Volume 1 Number 8 CHESS IN THE PRESS August 2, 1993
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The Imposers of Meaning
For some, chess is a refined activity, like wine tasting. For others, a
means of earning a humble income from street hustling. The combatant
struggles for victory in warfare with his peers, while the lone problemist
molds aesthetic beauty unseen in the heat of competition. The Soviets
conscripted Caissa to promote their socialist agenda, while the Viennese
delegation insisted the royal game betrayed a longing for father murder.
Each person, group, or state imposes his own meaning, determined by
something of intrinsic value to the imposer. Meanwhile, many new types
of chess sets are being fabricated--some cheap, some dear; some tawdry,
some elegant. And their silent armies rest in their boxes waiting for the
imposers of meaning.
"The Man Who Screamed When He Lost." Warner, Glen. Saturday Night (May
1980), p. 50-53.
Every night, Josef Smolij sets up his chessboard on Yonge Street in
downtown Toronto and takes on all comers for fifty cents a game, winner
takes all. Playing speed chess with Smolij is to engage in psychological
warfare. The 59-year-old man with an 8-inch beard shouts insults when
opponents make bad moves: "In Russia, you would be sent to Siberia for that.
Is true. Players scared to make bad moof in Russia." Smolij was Ontario
champion in 1959, but was kicked out of his last tournament for screaming
at opponents. Most local experts acknowledge that he is a great speed player
who rarely loses. "I sleep maybe four hours a day. The rest, I play chess."
A report on the strange behavior of Nimzovitch, Steinitz, Alekhine, and
Fischer. Lawrence Day said, "Chess attracts people who perhaps feel out of
control in the disorder of the real world...they feel they are in control
on the chessboard, and the outcome will be a fair evaluation of their
ability." Day is one of Canada's few professionals. He and his wife live on
$6,000/year from his chess column in "Saturday Night" and several newspapers.
According to a gallup poll, chess ranked as the second most popular sport
"King of Kings." Blauner, Peter. New York (Jun 3, 1985), p. 23.
Street chess player Bobby Plummer can make as much as $300 a day beating
opponents at $6 a game. He started out a few years ago in Times Square and
eventually invested in a 5-board table, which was stolen. Now he plays
near Bryant Park and leases table space from Earle Biggs, who says Plummer
has a 90% win ratio. Chess and 3-card monte are popular sidewalk games.
"The General Intelligence and Spatial Abilities of Gifted Young Belgian
Chess Players." Frydman, Marcel and Richard Lynn. British Journal of
Psychology (May 1992), p. 233+.
Thirty-three Belgian chess players aged 8-13 were tested with the French
Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children. The findings suggest that a
high level of general intelligence and spacial ability are necessary to
attain a high level of chess ability. The high spacial ability of these
children may partially explain why males are more numerous than females
among top chess players.
"Chess Rival Shot Bad Loser." The Guardian. (Dec 9, 1992), p. 4.
An attempted murder trial at London's Old Bailey involved chess player
Robert Bryan, who was jailed for 10 years after pleading guilty to
attempting to murder chess opponent Matthew Hay by shooting him in the
neck with a shotgun while he was asleep.
"A Step Beyond Offbeat." Stanley, John. San Francisco Chronicle (Dec 16,
1990), p. 32.
Describes an unusual collection of short, animated films, including one
called "Agnes Escapes From the Nursing Home" (1988, 4 minutes). A standard
cell animation job by Eileen O'Meara in which an old woman is playing chess
with a bishop when she suddenly flies away into clouds shaped like rabbits
and squirrels. Many images of death are seen as opera singer Wilhelmina
Wiggins Fernandez sings Catalani's aria from "La Wally" on the soundtrack.
The film is sympathetic to the plight of older people whose families may
not be around as much as they'd like, and is also about the desire to escape
daily confinements and return to childhood.
"The Royal Game." Crypton, Dr. Science Digest (Sep 1983), p. 96-99+.
Discusses "The Great Chess Movie" and several novels with chess as a
theme. Anyone who watches "The Great Chess Movie" will get the impression
that grandmasters are totally out of it. Bobby Fischer was asked what it
meant to be Bobby Fischer: "I don't know. It's my name." What are Fischer's
favorite writers: "I don't know. I'm really mainly magazines." Similarities
between chess fiction and fact: Fritz Lieber's 1962 short story "The
Moriarty Gambit" has Sherlock Holmes facing Professor Moriarty at the London
International Chess Tourney of 1883. As they are about to play, Holmes
offers his hand, but Moriarty ignores him. Sixteen years later, as Karpov &
Korchnoi battled for the world crown, Korchnoi extended his hand before the
eighth game and Karpov ignored him. "Korchnoi was so rattled that he was
promptly trounced." In Agatha Christie's "A Chess Problem," a chess master
has heart failure in the middle of a tournament game. Six years later, a man
called Dr. Olland suffered a fatal heart attack during a tournament game.
A lengthy description of Kurt Vonnegut's short story "All the King's Horses."
"A Chess Player Realizes the Game Controls His Life." Hoffman, Paul.
Smithsonian (July 1987), p. 129-30+.
The author ruminates on the bizarre behavior of chess players and his
own addiction to the game. "Chess and insanity are certainly somehow
intertwined--not only for top masters but also for dedicated amateurs. I
know from my own experience. I devoted a few years to the game and
discovered that long before you reach master strength you lose interest
in virtually everything that happens off your chessboard."
"The Sport of Mental Giants." Costello, John. Nation's Business (Dec
1979), p. 63-67.
A report on several people in the business world who also like to play
chess. Every Tuesday night, Larry Kaufman heads for Your Move, a public
chess club in the Georgetown area of Washington, D.C. For more serious
chess, he invites masters over to his condo in Rockville. "I'm president
of a corporation [The Chess Option Corp.] that trades on the Chicago
options exchange," he said. "My role is to decide what to buy and sell."
Kaufman says shogi beats chess. "For one thing, there are very few draws."
Linda Mahan, who owns the west coast recruiting firm Mahan, Marlowe &
Assoc, said chess is like "driving an automobile at high speeds. I have a
restored 1967 Formula S Barracuda fastback. Chess is like driving that car.
My rating is about 2000. If my business allowed me more time for the game,
I'd have a shot at being number one." Anthony Cottell was a member of the
USCF Policy Board, and a CPA with his own business. He started a chess club
at Bernard Baruch business school. "I was looking for an extracurricular
activity in which I could compete. Sometimes a good chess player hardly eats
over a weekend tournament. You can lose 5 or 10 pounds. I know. I have."
Zaki Harari is an options trader at the Pacific Stock Exchange in San
Francisco. He turned to postal chess because he didn't have time any more
for OTB tournaments. [See "Chairmen of the Chessboard," Chess in the Press
V1 #3 for other executives who play chess.]
"The Soviet Chess Machine: Another Empire Crumbles." The Economist (Dec
21, 1991-Jan 3, 1992), p. 34-36.
Chess prospered under Soviet communism, but with the collapse of the
Soviet empire, is this the beginning of the end of chess dominance by
the former Soviet republics? Alexander Ilyin-Zhenevsky, one of the founders
of the Soviet chess movement, and Nikolai Krylenko, public prosecutor for
the revolutionary tribunals, promoted chess at least as much as they did
communism. Ilyin-Zhenevsky included chess in the pre-conscription training
program in 1920, because the game "develops in a man boldness, presence of
mind, composure, a strong will and something which sport cannot, a sense of
strategy." Chess was included in Stalin's first 5-year plan. Players should
be in the vanguard of the building of socialism as the driving intellectual
force toward industrialization. In 1923, there were 1,000 registered
players; in 1928 there were 140,000. But authorities complained chess
players weren't fighting for communism, just for checkmate. Chess was deemed
desirably anti-religious, as it is based on "independent, creative analysis,"
not providence. Future Soviet chess masters would, through their victories,
demonstrate the superiority of communism. This allowed the participation of
working class players in bourgeois tournaments. From then on, Soviet regimes
channeled millions of rubles into support for the leading players. Botvinnik
was the first grandmaster to result from this state sponsorship. After he
shared first with Capablanca at Nottingham, 1936, he sent a telegram to
Stalin (Botvinnik later said it had been sent by Krylenko). Overjoyed,
Stalin had Pravda publish the telegram. August 29, 1936: the front page of
Pravda is devoted to the importance of chess in Soviet culture. In recent
times, many grandmasters are leaving, never to return. Others stay and
bring back their winnings from western tournaments, which are converted on
the black market to rubles, netting the equivalent of 10 years' pay for the
average citizen. Once Russia faces economic realities, chess subsidies will
be history. "The problem will not be apparent for another generation."
"How to Play Chess." Shane, Harold. Library Journal (Mar 15, 1993), p. 121.
Orson knows chess! A 2-hour video on chess for $39.95 called "How to Play
Chess" includes a segment with Orson Welles, who discusses some of the
history and mystique of the game. Yasser Seirawan and Larry Christiensen
apparently contradicted each other unknowingly in their sections. The tape
receives two thumbs down, as it is a pastiche of several sources, the
sections on strategy and tactics are in illogical sequence, and the graphics
are weak and unclear. The tape "is a waste of the obvious talent of the
"Miming Gainful for the Audience and Performers." Jordan, Brenda. Daily
Kent Stater (Apr 27, 1993), p. 9.
The United Christian Ministries Mime Troupe gave its second annual spring
performance on the campus of Kent State University in Ohio to raise money
and canned goods for the Kent Homeless Shelter. An act called "Playing
Field 2" was based on a chess game in which the mimes were pieces on a
large, checkered mat. The mimes would move, punch, strike, or maim each
other as the game evolved into a brutal, murderous war. One mime refused
to play. Over 40 people attended and the troupe frequently sent the audience
into convulsions of laughter. Mime Janet Mueller, a peace and conflict
studies major, said miming has been a great learning experience for her.
"It's helped me to learn how to express myself in other ways and in working
closely with other people. It's an art form."
"Prisoner Sues So He Can Plan Dungeon Game." San Francisco Chronicle (March
29, 1990), p. A4.
Kenneth McClure, a medium-security inmate at the Washington State
Penitentiary in Walla Walla, said he spent $38 on some advanced Dungeons &
Dragons books only to have them seized by prison guards. He denies the
game promotes Satanism, and filed a federal lawsuit in which he claims that
the game instead "teaches trust, honor, memory, leadership, how to bargain,
and how to save money." A prison lieutenant told McClure that the prison
doesn't allow games that require players to kill or demoralize others,
and that anyone caught playing such games would be segregated and cited.
McClure believes games such as chess should also be banned under this rule,
as it involves "killing or demoralizing the other players' pieces."
NEXT WEEK: The World Premiere of our special issue "Chinese Chess in the
Press." They said it couldn't be done. But what has never been done is the
Research Team's specialty. Coming next week to an Internet node near you.
Editor: Stephen Leary [email@example.com]
Chess in the Press is cross-posted to Chess-L on Bitnet & RGC on Usenet
=============== ****************** ===============
SPECIAL EDITION CHESS IN THE PRESS August 10, 1993
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CHINESE CHESS IN THE PRESS
They said it couldn't be done. They said it was hard enough to find books
on Chinese chess, let alone magazine articles. But an entire issue devoted
just to citations in the general press for xiangqi? The others threw their
hands up in defeat and moved on to easier, less noble tasks. But the Chess
in the Press Research Team sensed a scholarly coup in the offing and quietly
took up the project with a vow of secrecy. Dead ends, red herrings, and wild
goose chases instigated by scholarly rivals fearful of the Team's prospects
of success, slowed the project. The Research Chief suggested an end to their
sufferings: the Team's best effort had been given; the project simply wasn't
feasible; the Team could switch to other enterprises with no loss of honor.
At that moment, a junior research associate burst into the office with an
armload of yellow, dusty old newspapers. He collapsed from fatigue into a
sofa, murmuring just before losing consciousness: "Victory is ours."
This World Premiere is the result of those valiant efforts. The greatest
annotated bibliography of Chinese chess citations in the press ever compiled.
The Team bows to its audience.
"China Clipper." Philip, David and Kenneth Whyte. Western Report (June 30,
1986), p. 36.
Hong Kong millionaire Ying Tung [Henry] Fok wanted to promote Chinese
chess to the same level of worldwide popularity enjoyed by western chess,
so he offered $500,000 to any non-ethnic Chinese who could finish ahead of
GM Hu Rong Hua in a tournament. Fok, 63, owns about 60 shipping, hotel,
and real estate companies worldwide. He is a former amateur soccer player
and director of FIFA, the governing body for the soccer World Cup. Fok
isn't very good at xiangqi himself, but is fanatical about it. GM Hu visited
Vancouver (Canada) for three days and competed with the best players, also
performing a blindfold simultaneous exhibition. Playing before 300 spectators
at the Noble Crown Restaurant, Hu played 4 of Vancouver's best while
blindfolded, winning 2 and drawing 2. He gave similar exhibitions in Calgary,
Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. James Lum, coordinator
of Vancouver's Chinese Cultural Centre, said the game has been almost
forgotten by the Chinese community. Henry Chiu of the British Columbia Chess
Federation, said, "There simply aren't enough tournaments here for players
to gain the necessary experience to compete with the people in China. North
Americans are really out of the running."
"Chinese Chess Expert Seeks Protege to Take on $500,000 Challenge."
Lu, Elizabeth. Los Angeles Times (Oct 20, 1989), p. B3.
Hong Kong millionaire Henry Fok has offered $500,000 to the first
non-Chinese player to win a major Chinese chess tournament. He made the
offer because he wants to promote xiangqi among westerners. Scott Yen, 38,
an expert, wants to discover and train the challenger. Yen conducts Chinese
chess workshops and tournaments in the Los Angeles area. But Fok's money
seems safe at present. L.S. Leung, president of the Hong Kong Chinese Chess
Association, said, "I haven't met any non-Chinese player who is near my own
standard, and I'm only an amateur." Timothy Thompson, a chess player, said,
"I'm looking for a book on this game, but I've never seen one." Yen has
developed a version of the game that features pictures of tanks, helicopters,
and other military figures instead of Chinese characters. He thinks this may
attract more westerners to the game.
"In Anticipation of War, A Peaceful Pastime...." Wong, Kathy. Free
China Review (March 1984), p. 56-59.
Chinese chess was once known as a gentlefolk's pastime; literary men and
women often played. For ages, the game was a common subject for Chinese
paintings. Chess was perceived as one of the four mandatory methods to
cultivate the intellect, facilitate concentration, and nurture a sense of
strategy. It is now also a "common people's" pastime; games are commonly
played in village parks and even on the sidewalks of busy business
districts. The word "hsiang" means either "elephant" or "symbols" and some
have speculated that "hsiang chi" is an indigenous game, since it represents
symbolically so many different aspects of the Chinese world view, and has
nothing to do with any linkage to a large, floppy-eared animal. The game
board is divided by a river. The "Chu Ho" river divides two nations,
"Chu" and "Han." The term "chi pin," or "chessboard etiquette," has become
a metaphorical expression for personal deportment in life--one's moral
self-cultivation, or lack thereof. Any person regarded as weak in chi pin
draws the contempt of his peers.
"Chinese Chess." New York Times (May 11, 1889), p. 8.
A short report on Chinese chess in the Chinese community in New York
City 100 years ago. Chinese chess was a popular game "in one of those
dingy, Chinese shanties on Mott Street." Money changed hands
frequently. "The place is fitted up handsomely for a Chinaman's quarters
& the chess table is a rare bit of Chinese carving and painting." The
reporter mentions, somewhat facetiously, that the papers never mentioned
the tournaments that the Chinese played with this game, as the papers
had reported on those involving Blackburne and Mason. "Some of the
[Chinese] players have attained an amount of skill that would put an
American on his mettle to defeat."
"Chess: The Secret of Longevity." Beijing Review (Jul 21, 1986), p. 34.
The honorary vice-chairman of the Shanghai Chess Association, Xie
Xiaxun, is 100 years old, and he owes his longevity to Chinese chess.
"Whenever I sit before a chessboard," he said, "all my troubles and
worries disappear." Xie was crowned the king of Chinese chess at
the first tournament in Shanghai in 1918. Ranked second of China's four
traditional intellectual hobbies--music, chess, calligraphy, and painting--
chess is regarded as educational and character-building. Xie said that as
a child, he used to watch adults playing chess for hours on end. Since then,
the game has dominated his life. Xie is also credited with bringing
western chess to China.
"Chess Village." China Daily (Apr 28, 1992), p. 6.
A special team competed at the Third & Fourth National Farmers Chinese
Chess Tournament. The team hailed from the chess village of Pixian County
in southeast China's Jiangsu Province, and finished a creditable ninth,
surpassing even the Jiangsu Provincial delegate team. About 80 years ago,
the village was poverty-stricken. There were floods every year and the
villagers led extremely hard lives. But they found sustenance in chess.
Older county officials looked down on them as "country bumpkins" and when
the county held tournaments in 1915, officials forced the villagers to hand
over 100 silver coins as a deposit. The king of chess in the village
mobilized everyone to combine resources to come up with the money. "They
had a complete triumph." Nowadays, chess is still an important part of the
village's traditions. Whenever there is a wedding, chess matches must be
included in the festivities. Chess masters from several generations selected
their sons-in-law by competing in chess. In 1984, the villagers built a chess
academy. Now, more than 1,300 people have been trained there.
"The Betrayal." [Book.] Corson, William R. NY: Norton, 1968, p. 163-165.
The author recounts his experiences during the Vietnam Conflict. His
group wanted to help out some peasants: "Initial rapport was established
by utilizing an aspect of their culture never hitherto exploited by
Westerners: the game of `co tuong' [Chinese chess]...It is the single most
pervasive activity in Vietnam. In any hamlet 95-98% of all males over 15
play it. It is more than a game to the Vietnamese; it is a status symbol
wherein skill is a mark of a man's cultural prowess." The author organized
a tournament in each of the 8 local hamlets; eight regional champions
emerged who then played each other to determine the grand champion.
The author gave the winner a radio in front of about 1,200 people who were
watching; meanwhile, he trained a dozen Marines to play the game; they then
went into the villages challenging all to play the game with them--as a
matter of face, the challenges had to be accepted. "Most importantly the
barriers of language and cultural differences were breached. Soon co tuong
became the basis of subsequent social intercourse, and the Marines were
`in' the social structure" of the local villages.
"The Je/Moi Antinomy and the Chess-Board as Metaphors of the Conflict
Between West and Far-East in the Novels of Pham Van Ky." [Dissertation.]
Nhiem Nguyen Hong. University of Massachusetts, 1982.
The Vietnamese novelist Pham Van Ky related the game of Chinese chess to
the cosmic game of Yin and Yang which is at the heart of Asian tradition.
From the "living chess game" to the "chessboard of chessboards," these
boards constitute an increasingly complex battleground for the Je/Moi
conflict [Je=Western values, Moi=Daoist or Buddhist values].
"Moscow Casts Star Performers as Chess Pieces for Champions." New York
Times (Jan 20, 1962), p. 15.
A sinister version of "living chess" was played in ancient China.
Mandarin warlords were said to have played a game called "Choke-Choo-
Hong-Ki" [apparently Chinese chess or a variant] using prisoners of war.
The Mandarins stood on opposite balconies overlooking a courtyard and
directed servants to move the human chessmen. When someone was "captured,"
he was led away and beheaded.
"History and the Tea House Warriors." Xiang Qi. China Daily (Oct 23,
1991), p. 5.
In the Song Dynasty (960-1279), people crowded into tea houses to play
Chinese chess. Over the past millennia, chess has been considered a game
for people at the bottom rung of the social ladder, as opposed to Go, which
was said to be for the cultured few. In ancient times, however, chess
was popular among the literary set, although its popularity paled beside
that of Go. Many famed generals and court officials were fond of chess,
such as Liu Kezhuang and Wen Tianxiang in the Song Dynasty. Women were quite
fond of chess. Shen Gugu was in one of the 10 "Imperial Chess Companies"
in the Song Dynasty. She may have been China's first woman national master.
Another famous woman player was Li Qingzhao, noted for her emotional Ci
poetry. Because of her writings, we know that the grid used in her time was
the same as the one used today. We can assume that the board we use today
had taken shape before Li's time.
"Circle of Iniquity." Reed, Victoria. ArtWeek (Oct 11, 1990), p. 16-17.
"The Chinese Chess Piece," a theatrical performance, was played out on a
large mock chessboard at the Hollywood United Methodist Church in Los
Angeles. It begins with a rumination on the game of chess by the Dreamer,
performed by co-creator May Sun, then proceeds with a traditional Chinese
dance, then focuses on 4 women with autobiographical soliloquies. The women
weave their stories as a Chinese chess game is played around them. The
performance unveiled myths, such that traditions can be easily broken, and
that women can be equal. One woman plays a soldier fighting for equality
against Chinese warlords. The second woman is Anna May Wong, a 1920s
American film star. Besides Chinese tradition, Wong struggles against
American prejudice. Her parts were always either China doll, slave girl,
or dragon lady. The third woman was a Chinatown Grandmother. The fourth was
Katherine Cheung, a modern-day pilot. These two women argue as the chess
game heats up. Cheung's success in China and America was squelched by the
events at Tiananmen Square. May Sun represented Chinese chess pieces by
creating banners with hand-painted characters modeled on ancient terra-
cotta warriors unearthed in Xian.
"Chess Kids Check Back into the Library." Zane, Maitland. San Francisco
Chronicle (Apr 21, 1990), p. A3.
In 1985, John Philbrook started a Friday afternoon Chinese chess club
for Asian kids of the Tenderloin [the Tenderloin is a high-crime area in
San Francisco that in recent years has experienced a large influx of
Vietnamese immigrants]. The 1989 earthquake forced the club to move to St.
Boniface Church until April, 1990. "I started the chess club as a way of
bringing more children into the library, and it's been a good draw," he
said. Twenty-four Asian youngsters signed up for a tournament at the main
branch of the library, the first since the 1989 earthquake. Jimmy Pierre,
13, spoke French as a child and learned chess in Paris, where his Vietnamese
family fled after the communist takeover in Saigon. Since moving to San
Francisco, he's been a chess addict. Another reason Philbrook started the
club was that many of his young customers are latchkey children whose
parents cannot afford after-school care. Philbrook has become something of
a celebrity in the Tenderloin. He won a Daniel E. Koshland civic unity
award, presented annually by the San Francisco Foundation.
"Chess Fan's Club." China Daily (Apr 12, 1991), p. 3.
Zhao Guoshen, 47, a farmer-turned-businessman, emptied his wallet to
fund the construction of a building for Chinese chess players in
Zhumadian, Henan Province. Zhao spent 100,000 yuan (about $19,230) and
borrowed another 20,000 yuan to build the 360-square-meter club.
"Chess Culture." China Daily (May 3, 1991), p. 5.
A nationwide chess invention competition was held to develop the Chinese
chess culture and enhance young people's creativity. Children could
participate by inventing new ways of playing chess based on the rules of
"intelligent combination chess," which is played with 60 pieces of various
colors and can be played in many ways. China Central Television will
broadcast a program to introduce the "intelligence Combination Chess."
"Oriental Delight." Kohn, Harold. Chess Life (Oct 1984), p. 30-31.
A Chinese chess enthusiast introduces the rudiments of xiangqi to chess
players and provides a few maxims for proper play.
["Knowledge Representation of Chinese Chess Game."] Yuan Tianxing &
Fu Yaoqing. Journal of Shanghai Jiaotong University (1990), v24(4),
p. 86-88. [Chinese language.]
Presents the tree-search algorithm for the software program
"C-Chess." The software combines both the knoweldge control and
parameter control strategies for attack, defense, and general movements.
["Knowledge Representation for Chinese Chess."] Yuan Tianxing & Fu Yaoqing.
Journal of Shanghai Jiaotong University (1989), v23(6), p. 101-108.
The problems of knowledge representation are discussed, as well as the
generation of knowledge and moves by the use of abstract patterns. Through
abstract patterns, man's ideological manner in chess-playing is considered.
"The Chess Master" [Qi Wang]. Ah Cheng. Chinese Literature (Summer 1985),
The full text of Zhong Ah Cheng's novella [usually translated as "The
Chess King"] about an educated youth sent to the country during the
Cultural Revolution, and a poor, uneducated youth who devotes his life to
playing and seeking out opponents in Chinese chess.
"Speaking of Many Things: Food, Kings, and the National Tradition in Ah
Cheng's `The Chess King.'" Huters, Theodore. Modern China (Oct 1988),
A lengthy critique of Ah Cheng's "The Chess King." Ah Cheng is at the
center of China's "roots" literary movement, so called because of its
determination to sort through the national tradition in search of its
enduring values. Unless Chinese literature finds its roots, it will have
no basis for attaining a position in a broader universe of letters.
"Chess represents the ability to find inner contentment not based on
elaborate structures of ontological speculation....Chess is constantly
surrounded by images and even explicit comments suggesting Daoism, something
that gives substance to the metaphysical claims for the game."
"Between Aesthetics and Hermaneutics: A New Type of Bildungsroman in Ah
Cheng's `The Chess Champion.'" Wong, Kin-yuen. Modern Chinese Literature
(Spring 1989), p. 43-53.
Ah Cheng's novella is concerned with the individual's acquiring a cluster
of values in life so as to achieve a sense of wholeness. Friedrich Schiller's
theory of aesthetics is used to illustrate the meaning of the story.
"The Short Stories of Ah Cheng: Daoism, Confucianism and Life." Louie,
Kam. The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs (July 1987), p. 1-13.
Ah Cheng's finest story is his first, "The Chess King," which has
established him as one of China's best writers. The wording and philosophy
of many passages are Daoist in nature. Critics hailed it as proof that
traditional Chinese thought still has a place in the modern world. The
pursuit of excellence in chess in the story is basically about the pursuit
of a general Chinese culture, and the Daoist symbols and imagery enhance
the vagueness of the general theme.
Other reviews in Chinese:
"QiWang yu daojia meixue" [`Chess King' and Doaist Ethics]. Su Ding &
Zhong Chengxiang. Dangdai Zuojia Pinglun [Critiques of Contemporary Writers],
no.3, 1985. p. 20-26.
"Qieshuo Qi Wang" [About `Chess King']. Wang Meng. Wenyi Bao [Literature &
Arts Journal], no.10, 1984. p. 45.
"Yu Ah Cheng dongla xiche" [Talking About This and That with Ah Cheng].
Li Yi, et al. Jiushi Niandai, no.1, 1986, p. 72. [Apparently Ah Cheng
doesn't even know how to play chess.]
NOTE: We hope to publish another special issue on Chinese chess sometime
around late September.
Editor: Stephen Leary [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Chess in the Press is cross-posted to Chess-L on Bitnet & RGC on Usenet.
Back issues of Chess in the Press are available via anonymous ftp at:
chess.uoknor.edu in the path: /pub/chess/texts/ChessInThePress.