Passing the turn to your opponent

In xiangqi, a situation may arise in which the position favours the player not having the turn to move. Diagram 1 shows an example. It is Black’s turn to move. He has a choice between K5=4 and A5+6, Red could win easily in either case.

In diagram 2, we have the same position except it is Red’s turn to move. Logically, one would ask if there is a way to ‘pass’ the turn to the opponent and win as in the first diagram? Yes, there is a technique similar to what is call ‘triangulation’ in western chess. It is moving a piece three times and returning it to the original spot. As there is no triangular movement with xiangqi pieces, I borrow the musical term ‘minuetto’ to name this tactical nicety.

Diagram 3 is another example (both sides having the same materials) in which Red moving first has to employ the ‘minuetto’ technique.

That’s the ‘minuetto’ performed by the Cannon. At the end of Red’s 3rd move, every moved piece returns to its original position. The only difference is the ball is now in Black’s court.

Here the Cannon minuetto is played along a vertical file. On move #4/13, if Black answers with A6-5, Red will continue the minuetto as planned. The position will be transformed into that of diagram 1.

Lastly, here is an interesting endgame puzzle composed by Li Zhong Jian (李中健)of Heilongjiang, China. It can be found on the Dong Ping Xiangqi E-Magazine ( This puzzle can be divided into two phases. In phase one, you have to find a checkmating combination forcing Black to trade his Chariot for a Cannon. In phase two Red is left with a Cannon, an Elephant and a Pawn that has reached the opponent’s baseline. However, Red can still win thanks to the minuetto technique.

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