WITH the staging of the 15th World Xiangqi Championship in the Philippines, both international and local officials are hoping that the sport of Chinese chess will reach a higher level of growth in the country.
Olympic Committee of Asia vice president Timothy Fok Tsun-tin, who is also the President of the Asian Xiangqi Federation, said this following a meeting with Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez at the Manila Hotel.
“We see the recent development (of the sport) and a lot of the exposure in the sport. It is fast growing,” said the Hong Kong-based Fok Tsun-tin, who is also the president of Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, before the start of the Games.
Xiangqi is a strategy board game for two players. It is one of the most popular board games in China, representing a battle between two armies, with the object of capturing the enemy’s general (king).
Fok Tsun-tin said xiangqi will be played again as a demonstration sport in the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou. It will be back in the Asiad following a 12-year absence.
Ramirez said the PSC has committed to help the game grow and help spread it beyond the homes and offices of the members of the Filipino-Chinese community.
“It will be an honor to welcome him, to engage the Filipino-Chinese community on this and promote the games in the Philippines,” said Ramirez.
The PSC chief added that as part of their support, they can provide game boards and develop the sport with the help of the Philippine Sports Institute.
PSI national training training director Marc Edward Velasco used to work with Fok Tsun-tin, during his time as a top official of the Hong Kong Sports Institute. And the PSI is expected to be involved in its propagation in the country.
The world championship drew around 120 participants from 26 countries, with cash prizes totaling P2.5 million. Peter Atencio
A total of US$7,500 is at stake for the men’s winner, while the women’s titlist gets $3,000.
Philippine Xiangqi Association president Wilson Tan said they hope the sport will grow in the country through the public and private schools.
“It’s been here since the 1930s, being played within the Chinese community,” said Tan. Peter Atencio