6 June 2024

The world of Chinese chess is in uproar over rumours of cheating and a bad behaviour scandal that saw the national champion stripped of his title Monday after a victory celebration ended with him defecating in a hotel bathtub.

Xiangqi, or Chinese chess, has been hugely popular for hundreds of years across Asia — and 48-year-old Yan Chenglong beat dozens of contenders last week to win the title of “Xiangqi King” at a national tournament hosted by the Chinese Xiangqi Association (CXA).

But his joy was short-lived, with the CXA on Monday announcing that Yan would have his title revoked and prize money confiscated after had been caught “disrupting public order” and displaying “extremely bad character”.

Yan Chenglong (right) wins the champion of the 2023 National Chinese Chess King Competition held in Lingshui, Hainan Province.//shine.cn

The association was also forced to address rumours circulating online that Yan had cheated during the competition by using anal beads equipped with wireless transmitters to send and receive signals.

Yan allegedly clenched and unclenched rhythmically to communicate information about the chess board via code to a computer, which then sent back instructions on what moves to make in the form of vibrations, according to reports circulating on the Chinese social site Weibo.

“Based on our understanding of the situation, it is currently impossible to prove that Yan engaged in cheating via ‘anal beads’ as speculated on social media,” the CXA said.

However, he was still stripped of his title and banned from playing for a year after his celebrations went wayward.

“Yan consumed alcohol with others in his room on the night of the 17th, and then he defecated in the bathtub of the room he was staying in on the 18th, in an act that damaged hotel property, violated public order and good morals, had a negative impact on the competition and the event of Xiangqi, and was of extremely bad character,” the association said in a statement.

The association did not disclose the amount of prize money Yan was forfeiting, but Xiangqi tournaments often promise winners tens of thousands of yuan (thousands of dollars).

The CXA had published a social media post last week congratulating Yan and other players for their “spectacularly heated high-level gameplay”.

The post included a photo of Yan on stage, flanked by two runners up, proudly holding up his prize certificate.