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Xiangqi (Chinese: 象棋; pinyin: Xiàngqí) is a two-player Chinese board game in the same family as Western chess, chaturanga, shogi, Indian chess and janggi. The present-day form of Xiangqi originated in China and is therefore commonly called Chinese chess in English.

The game represents a battle between two armies, with the object of capturing the enemy's "general" piece. Xiangqi is one of the most popular board games in China. Distinctive features of Xiangqi include the unique movement of the pao ("cannon") piece, a rule prohibiting the generals (similar to chess kings) from facing each other directly, and the river and palace board features, which restrict the movement of some pieces.

Besides China and areas with significant ethnic Chinese communities, Xiangqi is also a popular pastime in Vietnam.

Its Chinese name can be treated as meaning "Image Game" or "Elephant Game":

Xiangqi contains features which are not in Indian chess: the river, the palace, and the placing of the pieces on the intersections of the lines, rather than within the squares. These features may have come from an earlier Chinese board game (perhaps a war-type game) which was also called 象棋 (Xiangqi). As in an astronomical context 象 sometimes means "constellation" (i.e. a figure made of stars), there were early Chinese theorizings (which Harold James Ruthven Murray followed and believed) that the older Xiangqi simulated the movements of stars and other celestial objects in the sky.


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