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The metaphor in the first line refers to the beginning of the wei-ch'i game, when stones are placed upon the board one by one, in a star-like pattern that appears random to unschooled observers.
The approximation of wei-ch'i both to individual combat and to a panoramic campaign motivated poets to draw inspiration from historic battles.
Where did you encounter the gods Who passed on these wei-ch'i tenets?
The second couplet develops the player/commander motif by likening the wei-ch'i master's manner to the composure of a general in battle.
Hsiang Yu's valor and Hen Hsin's resourcefulness are presented as necessary attributes for military commanders and wei-ch'i players alike, but there is more to Fan's poem than simple strategic prescription: underlying both stories is a common resolve to fight until victory or death.
In the last couplet, Fan Chungyen affirms that in this highly intellectual game, in which chance plays no part, victory or defeat depends on human cunning and courage; he closes by expressing interest in writing a wei-ch'i history, thus referring back to his admiration for the master player.
While Wei-ch'i devotees were well aware of the game's amusing facets, they often went beyond the direct consequences of the game's strategy and envisioned its relations in a fuller metaphorical context.
Ch'ien wrote five poetic cycles entitled "Observing Wei-ch'i Games" ("Kuan-ch'i"),(37) with six poems in each cycle.
White head in the shadows of lanterns on a cool night - In the wei-ch'i end game, we see the Six Dynasties.