Rolling Horses
(Two Horses Drinking from the Fountain)

In xiangqi textbooks, checkmating combinations engaging two Horses are all described as ‘Two Horses Drinking at the Fountain’ (双马饮泉) or ‘Rolling Horses’ (打滚马). I prefer the latter for its brevity. Bear in mind that this is not a single move, but a combination. It mainly deals with situations in which the offensive comes from two Horses, while the opposing King has only the Elephants and the Advisers available for defence.

The diagram on the left is adapted from a lesser known ancient manual. The position on the upper half of the board may serve as the basic format for practical purposes. Of course, there must not be any opposing piece on the other half of the board that may interfere with the movement of the two Horses.

On move #6/7, if the black King moves up instead, it will be checkmated by H5-3. You may click on the Black King, move it to the B61 spot, then click the right arrow key to see the continuation.

At the start, the Horse on Red’s 3rd file could be on the B62 or the B93 spot instead.

In practice, you may not be able to force the position above. In an endgame where Red has two Horses and the King, while Black has only the full guards (2E and 2A), red usually wins by trading one Horse for two Elephants plus an Adviser, leading to a sure-win finish of Horse vs Adviser.

Below are two practical examples demonstrating the winning process. Pay particular attention to the tactical combination of trading a Horse for the two Elephants.

On the next page there are four exercises to sharpen your skills in deploying the Horses.