Chess Ghost: The Tragic Tale of an Obsessed Chess Player

Explore the gripping narrative of a compulsive chess player whose obsession with the game led to an afterlife of eternal chess in the underworld.

Yangzhou’s Deputy General Liang resigned from his official position and returned to his hometown to live. Every day, he would carry chess and wine and enjoy himself among the trees and hills. On this particular day, it happened to be the Double Ninth Festival in September, a day for climbing and leisure. He was playing chess with his friends when suddenly, a man arrived and began walking around the chessboard, deeply engrossed in the game, unwilling to leave. Liang observed that this man had a humble appearance and wore tattered clothes, but he displayed a polite and cultured demeanor, resembling a scholar.

Liang courteously invited him to sit down, and the man remained very humble. Liang pointed at the chessboard and said, “Sir, you must be skilled in this game. Why not have a match with this friend?” The scholar modestly declined for a while before finally agreeing to play. After the first game, the scholar lost and appeared frustrated, seemingly unable to control his emotions. They started another game, and once again, the scholar lost, becoming even more ashamed and annoyed. Liang poured him some wine, but he refused to drink and instead continued playing chess with his friend, completely disregarding everything else from morning till night.

As they were arguing over a move in the game, the two of them engaged in a heated verbal dispute. Suddenly, the scholar stood up from his seat in fear, his expression filled with misery and despair. After a brief pause, he kneeled down before Liang, repeatedly kowtowing until blood flowed from his forehead, pleading for help. Liang was shocked and bewildered. He got up to assist the scholar, saying, “Chess is just a game; why take it to such extremes?”

The scholar replied, “Please instruct your servant not to bind my neck.” Liang was even more puzzled and asked, “Who is your servant?” The scholar responded, “It’s Ma Cheng.” Previously, Liang’s servant, Ma Cheng, had the uncanny ability to journey to the underworld every ten days or so, acting as a messenger for souls. Liang found the scholar’s words bizarre and sent someone to check on Ma Cheng, who had been lying motionless in bed for two days. Liang scolded Ma Cheng for his impoliteness, but in the blink of an eye, the scholar had disappeared from where he stood.

Liang sighed deeply, finally realizing that the scholar was a ghost.

A day later, Ma Cheng woke up, and Liang summoned him to inquire about the situation. Ma Cheng explained, “The scholar was from Xiangyang, Hubei, and he had a compulsive love for chess, squandering all his family’s wealth. His father worried about this and locked him in his study, but he would always climb over walls to take his chess friends to secluded places to play. When his father heard of this, he would curse vehemently, but he could never stop him from playing chess. His father died in anger and sorrow, bearing a grudge until his last breath.

Yan Wang, due to the scholar’s lack of virtue, shortened his life and sentenced him to the Hungry Ghost Hell, where he has been for seven years now. Coincidentally, when Mount Dongyue’s Fenglou was completed, an order was issued to gather literati and have them compose inscriptions. Yan Wang released the scholar from hell to write and atone for his sins. However, he delayed and exceeded the allotted time, which greatly angered Yan Wang. The Jade Emperor of Mount Dongyue dispatched a duty officer to question Yan Wang, and Yan Wang, in great fury, ordered us to search for him. Not long ago, I received your order, so I didn’t dare to use a rope to bind him.”

Liang asked, “How is the scholar today?” Ma Cheng replied, “He has been handed over to the underworld officials and will never be reborn.” Liang sighed and said, “Such a strong obsession has led him astray!”

Yi Shi once said, “When he sees a game of chess, he forgets about death, and after death, when he sees a game of chess, he forgets about life. Could it be that what he loves is more important than life itself? However, to have such an obsession and yet not excel at it, only creates a chess ghost under the ninth abyss, eternally dead and never reborn. It truly is a source of sorrow!”






1 thought on “Chess Ghost: The Tragic Tale of an Obsessed Chess Player”

  1. I don’t think the title of your article matches the content lol. Just kidding, mainly because I had some doubts after reading the article.

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