The game Xi Gua Qi comes from eastern China, although variants can be found in many lands. It’s been around for centuries, and continues to be played today. It deserves the attention.
Nearly 100 years ago, a British archeologist uncovered four game boards in the digs at the ancient city of Ur. These remain the oldest such sets ever found, and for decades researchers speculated on how the game might have been played. A popular rule set was published around 1970 by game historian R.C. Bell which became the standard for the reconstructed game.
The McLoughlin Brothers publishing company prospered in the late 1800s printing mostly children’s books and puzzles. Their outstanding print quality and colorful art were the company’s hallmarks. They began in to produce table-top games in the 1880s, and by 1900 were one of the top game companies in the U.S.
When the Mongolian Empire reached northwestern Europe in the late 13th century, they brought this game with them. It was carried on by the Polish and other eastern European peoples. It’s a challenging battle game wherein the winner is determined by their final score, not by the end-game position on the game board.
A little over 200 years ago, this little game began to catch on in the U.K. It was not a new concept, historically, but an extremely convenient adaptation of game pieces that nearly everyone – or at least every English pub – would have. It’s a predecessor of games like Halma and Chinese Checkers, and can still be found today under a host of different names.