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World's Biggest Chess Problem

Xingyang Xianqi Square in Xingyang.


Xiangqi Plaza (satellite view) in the city of Xingyang, Henan Province, features what must be the largest permanent representation of a chessboard in the world. The layout is that of a reputedly ancient problem called Qi Ji Yi Yue, or the Jump of a Steed. This problem and the solution have been published by Felix Tan.

The city of Xingyang claims as an attraction a nearby waterway that, after years of warring (206-202 BC) between the states of Han and Chu, became an agreed-upon if not actually peaceful boundary. This historical event has been associated with the origins or at least the theme of Chinese chess. In the tableau at Xiangqi Plaza, the Han are represented by the red pieces, led by Liu Bang, and the Chu by the black, under Xiang Yu (pictured above, poised to send an arrow into his enemy's heart, perhaps with P5+1). The problem posed, for black to play and draw, was appropriately chosen, and it is delightful that the solution leaves both sides with a nominal force of a single foot and cannon—though they continue to occupy one another's territory! Indeed, the establishment of the historical river boundary was succeeded by still more violence, leading ultimately to Xiang Yu's defeat and suicide.

Black to play and draw.



Variation on the above, in which black wins. It must be this variation that inspired the name of the problem.