The Nyemo Chess game [Photo/Agencies]
The Nyemo Chess game originated from Tobang Township of Zogang County, Chamdo Prefecture of Tibet Autonomous Region. It is a treasure of Tibetan culture.
Nyemo Chess, also known as Tibetan Chess, is the symbol of local residents’ wisdom and Tibetan culture. This is clearly reflected in the operation and language of the game, which is coloured with working life.
According to research, Tobang Nyemo Chess originated about four thousand years ago during the heyday of Bon (the primitive religion of ancient Tibetans, which flourished before the introduction of Buddhism), or during the period of "Three Dynasties" (Xia, Shang, and Western Zhou in 2070-771 B.C.).
"Nyemo" means "crisscross" in Tibetan, since the game board is arranged in a crisscross pattern. The game has never been used for gambling or monetary wagers; it is purely for entertainment. However, local chess masters have a certain influence among the people and are generally highly respected by others.
Nyemo Chess is played regardless of venue, social hierarchy, time and regional restrictions. The players are male - women do not participate in the game – mostly from middle-aged and younger age groups. The game uses usual stones and mud pieces as pawns, and is generally played among a gathering of friends in the slack season. It can last a long period of time; there will be no rest until the game has ended in either victory or defeat. Generally it is for two players, with onlookers on either side of the players to give advice and suggestions; the scene can be very lively!
The Nyemo chessboard is arranged in crisscross patterns of 9, 12, 15, 18, or 21 lines, but boards with 15 lines are most commonly used. Sometimes, boards with 9 lines are used in order to more quickly move along the matches – chessboards with 15 lines or more take longer because the degree of difficulty increases with the number of lines.