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Chinese Literature
Yilü 弈律 "The Law of Chess"


The Yilü 弈律 "The Law of Chess" is a book on chess playing written by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Wang Siren 王思任 (1574-1646), courtesy name Wang Jizhong 王季重, style Nüe'an 謔庵. He came from Shanyin 山陰 (modern Shaoxing 紹興, Zhejiang) and received his jinshi degree in 1595. He was prefectural assistant (qianshi 僉事) in Jiujiang 九江. When the Manchus conquered Nanjing, he was made Right Vice Minister of Rites (libu you shilang 禮部右侍郎), later Minister of Rites (libu shangshu 禮部尚書) of the Prince of Lu 魯王 (r. 1646), a ruler of the Southern Ming 南明 (1644-1661), yet after the downfall of his hometown Shaoxing, he decided to starve himself instead of serving the Manchu Qing dynasty 清 (1644-1911). His collected writings are called Wang Jizhong shi zhong 王季重十種.
The short Yilü defines the rules of chess playing as valid during the time when Wang Siren lived. He compares the rules and an eventual offense of these with criminal acts, and claims punishment according to the penal law, like blows with the rod or the stick, exilation, or a fine. The text consists of 42 paragraphs.The author holds that chess was made for recreation, and not for cheating other people, for which reason he believes that fudging should be punished severely. Many scholars ridiculed this text, and it is therefore quite rate. The Yilü is to be found in Wang Siren's collected writings Wang Jizhong shi zhong 王季重十種.


Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe, vol. 2, p. 1823.

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October 26, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail