Chong Ben Tang Plum Flower Manual Introduction
Chong Ben Tang Plum Flower Manual is known as 《崇本堂梅花秘谱》 (chóng běn táng méi huā mì pǔ) in Chinese.
There were two volumes in this ancient manual that was published in 1897AD. There were 9 boards in Volume 1 and 11 boards in Volume 2. Some of the contents were similar or identical to those in the Plum Flower Springs Manual, which is why many contemporary scholars felt that these two books appeared around the same time, probably slightly after Wang's Plum Flower Manual. In the preface of the original book, a date was given as the 4th year in the rule of Emperor Tong Zhi which would be 1867AD. There was also mention of the book being kept by a person surnamed Huang for a long time. Hence, the book was printed long before 1867AD. The author was not known. "堂" in Chinese could refer to a lot of things including a hall, a large room et cetera and Chong Ben Tang probably referred to a library or a collection books in such a hall. Not much else is known about the book.
There were twenty boards in the book with a total of 79 variations. The contents include:
- Central Cannon vs. Screen Horse Defense
- Central Cannon vs. Single Horse Defense
- Same Direction Cannons
- Opposite Direction Cannons
- Handicap Boards whereby move handicaps and material handicaps were discussed. These boards were found exclusively in Volume 2.
The moves given in the book are rudimentary by today's standards but they serve as very good material for the beginner when starting their journey into learning Xiangqi.
The variations given in this book are based on the ones found in Cheng Mingsong, Yang Mingzhong and Tu Jingming's Encyclopedia of Xiangqi Manuals.
程明松, 杨明忠, & 屠景明. (2007 重印). 中国象棋谱大全. 成都: 成都时代出版社. ISBN 9787805485294.