The Chinese Chess Tournament has concluded its third stop in Hamburg, Germany. Chinese Chess, or Xiangqi, is one of the most popular board games in China. And now the enthusiasm is also shared by those far north in Europe.
Eighteen Germans are engaged in a battle of the minds. Five of the country's top ten players have already part. The contestants range in age from 10 to 60 and come from varied backgrounds in academia, I-T, physics, law enforcement, medicine, and law.
The Xiangqi Tournament in Germany has grown a great deal since it was established in 1992. This year they're competing in four stops: Hannover, Nuremburg, Hamburg and Braunschweig. The winners will battle it out in the final in east China's Shandong province at the end of August.
Xiangqi clubs are mushrooming in cities like Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. Their membership now reaches over a hundred.
Jorn Tesson, lawyer, contestant, said, "Xiangqi is very tactical, while at the same time, an aggressive mind game. It has a long history. I'm very much intrigued."
Dr. Michael Nagler, contestant, said, "I have a knack of understanding the rules quickly. It's more interesting than the international chess."
Markus Brenner, psychologist, contestant and organizer, said, "I love China, I hope to make more Chinese friends through Xiangqi."
Contestants who've fallen for Xiangqi are also its biggest supporters. One of the participants is a reporter who created his own Xiangqi board and pieces. He says that playing a game of Xiangqi literally transports him back in time, to an ancient Chinese battle two thousand years ago.