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Monday, February 7, 2011

Vietnam's chess festival held in Spring

Chess blog for latest news and trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2011

Hi everyone,

This chess story is about the Spring festival held in Vietname. It's about the traditional form of chess played in the country. In the past most Vietnamese people were farmers whose farming depended completely on nature. This meant that they all had leisure time to attend many festivals during and after the Lunar New Year Festival (Tet). They included wrestling and chess contests.

The different kinds of chess

There are different types of chess (Co) that are popular among the players in Vietnam. Co Tuong (Chinese chess), Co Vua (king chess) and Co Vay (GO chess) are included in the country’s official tournaments.
In addition to these are Co Ngu Hanh (five basic elements chess), Co Caro (noughts and crosses), Co Chan Cho (dog-leg chess), Co Hum Lon (tiger and pig chess), Co Tam Giac (triangle chess) and Co Quan Su (military chess). However, Chinese chess is the most popular, particularly in the Spring tournament.

Chess masters

According to legend, De Thich was the Chess God. As a chess expert, he knew all secrets of the game and could turn every failure into a success. Now he is worshipped in a Hanoi pagoda named Chua Vua. Tournament festival is held there every year, which attracts a large number of players from all parts of the country. The names of winners for three consecutive years are engraved in a stone stele. It is also said that Truong Ba, a wordly man, was the chess rival of De Thich.

Another legend says that people from Bac Ninh province are best chess players. This is proved by vestiges on Lan Kha mountain in Tien Du district. There was a woodcutter named Vuong Chat from Sop village. After he reached the top of the mount, he saw two genies playing chess. Chat watched them until the handle of his axe was rotten. He must have been a good chess player to enjoy such a long game.

In the 17th century, chess master Vu Huyen from Duong An, Hai Duong province defeated his rival from the Ming dynasty in 30 moves.

It is agreed that a good chess player should carefully observe the chessboard to grasp the whole situation before making any move.

Chess festival culture

A chess tournament is often held in village festivals. Sometimes, it lasts a week. Co Boi is another variety of Chinese chess but the pawns are wooden boards with a handle and the chessboard is a squared plot of land. The player sits on a tower behind the king. He orders a member of the organising board to move the pawns. Before the game, all players have to pass a skill test.
In Co Nguoi or human chess, the ground is marked as a chessboard with men standing for red pieces and women standing for black pieces. These are controlled by the players in the rhythm of drumbeats.

Chess festival constitutes an interesting aspect of Vietnamese culture. It lasts until the fourth lunar month. Currently, chess tournaments are held on any occasion during the year.

You can read further here.

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  • At February 7, 2011 at 7:26 AM , Anonymous Biju Thapa, Kathmandu said...

    Interesting. There should be a world chess festival for spring like the olympiads and no ratings just prizes and fun.


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