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Hundreds of years ago, the Screen Horse Defense was not as developed as modern day. The Same Direction Cannons or Opposite Direction Cannons were the main counters used, whereby Black fought fire with fire. In The XiangQi Master From The Cave, the first five games dealt with the Same Direction Cannons Ranked Chariot vs Filed Chariot.
Game #1 demonstrates the use of the Palcorner Horse to set up the Horse Cannon Checkmate .
1. C8=5 C2=5
2. H8+7 H2+3
3. R9+1 R1=2
Diagram 1.1a. And we reach one of the most basic opening systems in Xiangqi, the Same Direction Cannons : Ranked Chariot vs Filed Chariot.
4. R9=4 A6+5
Diagram 1.1b. Black’s A6+5 would be a mistake. It would not be advisable to move the advisor so early. Even though consolidating the central file is an important issue especially in Same Direction Cannons openings, it would be advisable to develop the other pieces at this point in time. Therefore, a sound move would be H8+7 if modern opening theory and principles were to be followed. If an advisor must have been played, A4+5 instead of A6+5 would have been much better as it would negate any influence that Red’s Ranked Chariot would have. A6+5 would have been like opening a backdoor for the enemy to attack. With A4+5, the Black king would have the option of moving K5=4 to avoid under Red Chariot's control.
5. R4+7 …………
Red’s R4+7 would be not ideal. Red would have moved the chariot too many times, at the expense of development of the other friendly pieces. A better play for Red would be H2+3 for a more balanced development of the pieces.
5. ………… H8+9
Fortunately for Red, Black's H8+9 was even worse. A good reply for Black when Red played R4+7 would have been H8+7 whereby both Black horses were developed as Proper Horses to consolidate the central file. If Red's chariot moved R4=3, Black would immediately counter with C8+2, which was one of the earliest opening traps that was listed. Black would have the option of an fork to gain a Red chariot should Black be greedy with R3-1.
For example,: If Black 5. ………… H8+7, 6. R4=3 C8+2, 7. R3-1 C8=7, 8. R3=2 C7+5, 9. K5+1 C7=9. And Black would have gain a Red chariot. Diagram 1.1c.
6. P3+1 …………
Red's P3+1 would not be a good move. Black would immediately counter with C8=7. After C8-7, Red would be discouraged from developing his horse as H2+3. Therefore P3+1 would be a waste of efforts.
6. ………… R2+6
However, in the ancient manual, Black followed with R2+6. This was not ideal, as Black did not prey upon the chance to play C8=7 as mentioned above, and actually allowed Red to develop the horse with H2+3 followed by H3+4.
7. H2+3 R2=3
8. H3+4 P3+1
As can be seen, Diagram 1.1d, Red's cannon would still be protecting his horse that was threatened by the Black chariot while his other horse would have galloped to the riverbank.
9. H4+3 C8=6
10. H3+2 C6=8
Diagram 1.1e. After ten move plies, we can see that the situation on the board heavily favored Red. Red had managed to charge a horse deep into enemy territory to attack, while causing Black's left flank to be congested.
11. R1+1 P3+1
P3+1 would be another ghastly mistake from Black, one that would bear consequences.
12. R1=8 R9+1
13. R8+7 …………'
And Red would have positioned his pieces nicely in preparation for the final kill. Diagram 1.1f.
13. ………… P3=4
14. R4+1 …………
Diagram 1.1g. The Red chariot is sacrificed to weaken Black's defense, thereby setting the stage for the final kill.
14. ………… A5-6
15. H2-4 R9=6
16. R8=4 A4+5
17. R4+1 …………
Diagram 1.1h. The second Red chariot is used as another decoy sacrifice to lead the Black king to a precarious position where the other Red pieces can be prepared for the final onslaught.
17. ………… K5=6
Horse Cannon Checkmate. Diagram 1.1i. Red wins. Such a romantic style of play was characteristic of the ancient manuals of that era. Bold sacrifices, often with chariots are often seen.
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