Many thanks to Nathan Rose for this.
I really like Nathan's idea of trying out some Chinese chess at the club. What do other people think?
"Greetings from Pho Chau, Vietnam!
Here are a couple of photos from our trip so far in Vietnam. The plan is to go from Saigon to Hanoi by motorbike, and we have now made it most of the way up the country towards this aim.
You can see us here with our two Honda Win motorbikes. 100cc's of raw power! Actually that's a very small engine, but they're nuggety little machines equally at home navigating the madcap big cities, overtaking trucks and oxes on the open road, or negotiating the many potholes and dirt roads of the Ho Chi Minh trail. We are next going to be looping around to Ninh Binh, Halong Bay, Sapa before we enter Hanoi itself.
One thing you cannot help but notice in Vietnam is the ubiquity of Xiagqi (Chinese Chess). People play it on the streetside, on their lunch breaks, and in cafes - if only Western Chess enjoyed such popularity in New Zealand! I have gone ahead and learned the rules and have been playing it a lot in our downtime. Any time the locals see my European face trying my hand at the game it draws a crowd, as you can see! Today when my Dad and I played in a roadside cafe we had about two dozen people watching our game by the end - no pressure!
Once you learn which piece is which, it is similar enough to Western Chess to play a reasonable game. The "cannons" (which move like rooks, but must jump over a piece to capture) are by far the hardest thing for a Western Chess player to get their head around!
Might be an option for the Wellington Chess Club to introduce a Xiangqi round into the 2015 calendar?
Hope all is well and say hi to everyone from me."