Discovery >

Vietmate: Vietnam’s Human Chess

January 5, 2016 by Khiri Travel | Filed Under: , ,

Vietnam is home to a variety of sports and games ranging from the traditional to the more unusual. One game that is a bit uncommon but holds a unique degree of interest among locals as well as foreign visitors is Cờ người or “human chess.” Originating in some rural villages in North Vietnam, this popular spectator event uses life-size players for pieces. The contest, complete with team costumes, is customarily reserved for traditional village festivals such as the Tet Vietnamese New Year celebrations.

sport and games - Vietnam - human chess

Although the game can be played anywhere, it is usually played in a communal field or open space near a pagoda. The game follows the rules of Chinese chess in which the sixteen pieces per side and chessboard are slightly different than in International chess. For example, Chinese chess pieces include elephants, guards and cannons. Each chess player’s costume is marked with a Chinese character indicating their piece’s name or they hold a special staff corresponding to their piece. The players are both men and women.

sport and games - Vietnam - human chess

There are two contestants who control all the strategy and moves, issuing commands to their team of chess players. There is also a master of ceremonies who will help if the chess players are not sure where on the board they should move. At the beginning of the game and during each move, a troupe of instruments beats drums and clashes cymbals building excitement for the spectators as in royal pageantry of ancient times.

The game is also played in South Vietnam with a few minor changes. One of the differences is the players make a choreographed display of martial arts techniques to represent a piece being captured. The spectators erupt in cheers and applause encouraging the chess players to display their best martial arts skills.

[expert-call-out-box id = ‘16742’]

Your travelers can observe this unique form of chess, Vietnamese-style. There will be a Human Chess Festival in Hanoi during the Tet Festival, 13-16 February 2016. For more information about travel to Vietnam and the celebrations of the annual Tet New Year celebrations, please leave your contact information in the form below.

 

Photo by Truong Viet Dung

Latest post

Moc Vien Restaurant in Hue

Nestled in a lovely garden setting, Moc Vien Restaurant offers guests local specialties from Central Vietnam and traditional Hue music. The 400-seat restaurant is spread across 5,000 square metres of pavilions and lakes, and features an outdoor stage where diners can take in local folk and royal court music performances. After your meal, take a […]

Read More

Vietnamese Wedding Outfit

Clothing plays a very important role in weddings in Vietnam. After the Nguyen Dynasty, the last royal dynasty of Vietnam, women began to wear elaborate ao dai for their weddings.

Read More

Khiri Travel Awarded Travelife Certification

Khiri Travel has taken a big step in boosting its responsible tourism credentials by reaching the final stage of the Travelife certification program.

Read More

Overnight with a Local Family on the Lake

Kompong Khleang is located on the northern lake-edge about 45 Km of Siem Reap Town.

Read More

Subscribe to our newsletter

Our B2B newsletters are for industry professionals




*We’ll never share your email address and you can opt out at any time.