IMG-20230510-WA0019(From L to R) TeamSG's Ng Junyang, Low Yi Hao, Loh Jun Yu, Fiona Tan, Ngo Lan Huong & Alvin Woo. Photo Credit : Singapore Xiangqi General Association


A year ago at the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi, Alvin Woo outplayed and outlasted several opponents, before winning Singapore's 1st ever gold medal in the sport of Chess Xiangqi. As an 8-time national champion, he won the men’s standard singles event by beating Cambodia’s Hok Kung in Round 7 to top the podium standings. In addition, TeamSG's Ngo Lan Huong finished 4th out of eight athletes in the women’s event and won a joint bronze. It was Xiangqi's debut at the biennial event and the Republic returned with 1 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronzes. 

As for Cambodia 2023, the Republic has sent a 5-member squad comprising Ng Junyang, Low Yi Hao, Fiona Tan, Ngo Lan Huong & Alvin Woo. And ActiveSG Circle caught  up with the Team Manager and 2 rising athletes on their hopes and overall preps for Cambodia. 


20191019_185647TeamSG's Loh Jun Yu at a local Xiangqi event in 2019. Photo Credit : Singapore Xiangqi General Association


Loh Jun Yu (Manager, TeamSG Xianqi squad)

Q :  Can you describe your Team's preparations for the coming SEA Games?
Jun Yu : We adopted a hybrid approach, comprising both online and physical training sessions weekly. During physical sessions, we play training games against ranked opponents of similar strengths. During online sessions, we review the games of one another, with the help of A.I. software, from where we seek to improve as team. 

Q : Could you select 2 squad members which Singaporeans should be keeping their eye on and why?
Jun Yu : The local favourites are Grandmaster Alvin (who clinched a historic SEA Games Xiangqi gold medal for Singapore at the Hanoi SEA Games) and Lan Huong (who achieved a bronze medal in Hanoi). Nevertheless, I feel all 5 of our athletes, including Fiona, Junyang and Yi Hao, have equally great potential to perform and win medals for Singapore as well. We can certainly expect a great fight from all of them!

Q : What are you hoping from our Chess Xiangqi team in Cambodia?
Jun Yu :
I am hoping for my athletes to simply enjoy their games and the process of competing. This year's packed match schedule is particularly challenging for our athletes, but I believe they have the mental fortitude and toughness to perform. As the saying goes, focus on the process and results will follow. Of course, it would be sweet for us to clinch a few (more) gold medals for Singapore!

Q : In sending a squad to compete at the SEA Games, are you hoping for a positive impact on the Xiangqi-playing community in Singapore?
Jun Yu : Yes definitely. I hope it will make Xiangqi more mainstream in Singapore and inspire more youths to pick up the sport, even as we see the game of chess experiencing a boom recently. In particular, it will be encouraging to see more females and players from various races or ethnicities jump on the bandwagon, alongside the increased diversity and representation we have from other SEA countries competing in Xiangqi as well. 

IMG-20230424-WA0017Ng Junyang (Chess Xiangqi athlete, Team Singapore). Photo Credit : Singapore Xiangqi General Association


Ng Junyang (Chess Xiangqi athlete, Team Singapore)

Age : 34
No of Years in Team Singapore :
No of Years playing Xiangqi : 25

Q : This is your debut SEA Games campaign. How are you feeling ahead of the Cambodia Games?
Junyang : Overall, the SEA Games are an important event in the sporting calendar for athletes from Southeast Asia, and I'm sure that those who are participating in the Cambodia Games are very strong competitors. Personally I am feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness as this is the first time representing Singapore in the SEA Games and I would like to do proud for our country.

Q : At the age of 34, what compelled you to be considered for selection for the SEA Games?
Junyang : I believe that age is not necessarily a barrier for athletes who wish to compete in the SEA Games, as long as they meet the eligibility criteria set by the organizers. Xiangqi has always been a passion of mine and I have always look forward to represent Singapore and compete at an International Level for our country.

Q : Take us through your training preparations for Cambodia 2023?
Junyang : Our Xiangqi training preparations for the SEA Games is a combination of hard work, dedication, and strategic thinking and constant looking out for better ideas and angles for the different game combinations. We also play a couple of games against our own team members on a weekly basis to constantly explore better solutions for the respective situations in our games. This allows us to fine-tune our strengths and improve on our weaknesses.

IMG-20230424-WA0019(Right) Ng Junyang (Chess Xiangqi athlete, Team Singapore). Photo Credit : Singapore Xiangqi General Association


Q : How important is this SEA Games campaign and which countries will pose a serious medal-challenge for you?
Junyang : It is an honour to be able to represent Singapore for the SEA Games and I believe that everyone will want to do well for their country. Personally, if I have to point out, Vietnam and Malaysia will be the stronger competitors. Nonetheless, I believe other countries' players have already started to improve on their game and may step up when the time comes.

Q : Can you tell us as to why you've spent 25 years playing this game?
Junyang : Xiangqi has always been a passion since I always 9 years old. I have always loved the game as it creates joy and excitement for me and as a person, I enjoy planning and strategizing. Xiangqi do allows us to develop creativity and critical thinking in different situations.

Q : What are you hoping to achieve in Cambodia and what's next for Xiangqi in 2023?
Junyang : I believe everyone will hope to achieve the Gold Medal. While I strive to achieve a good result, however, I do not want to have too much expectations as it may add unnecessary stress on myself. Moving forward for Xiangqi in 2023, I hope that Xiangqi Sport is able to garner more interests, especially in Singapore, as I believe it is Sport that allows people, regardless of age, to be able to enjoy the game and develop critical thinking skills and the ability to solve situations. I also hope to be able to constantly improve on my game and take it to the next level in the future years.

IMG-20230510-WA0014(2nd from L) Ng Junyang and his teammates at Changi Airport, prior to departing for Cambodia 2023. Photo Credit : Singapore Xiangqi General Association


Q : What is your Pre-Game ritual (if any)?
Junyang : I do not have a pre-game ritual. Nonetheless, I believe that ample rest and sleep, combined with clearing your thoughts is an important part of pre-game routine.

Q : Do you have a favourite go-to song before the start of a game?
Junyang : I do not often listen to songs before competition, however, clearing your thoughts among other things will be a key to allow me to focus during the game is important.

Q : Do you have a pre-game meal, snack or drink before a game?
Junyang : As long as I have my tummy filled, and no food coma, I think I am good to go!

IMG-20230424-WA0016Junyang's favourite Xiangqi momento. Photo Credit : Junyang

Q : Your favourite Xiangqi player in the world and why?
Junyang : My favourite Xiangqi player will be Wang Tian Yi, who is currently the No.1 player in China. He is a genius, who is able to accurately calculate several steps ahead and navigate through difficult scenarios with clear and precise strategies.

Q : Do you have a favourite personal momento/souvenir from your 25 years of playing Xiangqi? 
Junyang : I received a gift/souvenir previously where the chess pieces were not written in Traditional Chinese, but with oracle bone inscriptions. I feel that this is special to me as it brings out the history of Chinese Chess while at the same time, it looks artistic and unique (see photo above).


IMG-20230424-WA0018Fiona Tan (Chess Xiangqi athlete, Team Singapore). Photo Credit : Singapore Xiangqi General Association


Fiona Tan (Chess Xiangqi athlete, Team Singapore)

Age : 31
No of Years in Team Singapore : 2
No of Years playing Xiangqi : 20 


Q : This is your 2nd straight SEA Games. How are you feeling ahead of the Cambodia campaign?
Fiona : I’m excited and motivated as I prepare for my 2nd straight SEA Games campaign in Cambodia. I have been training diligently, both physically and mentally, to further hone my skills and strategies. I’m determined to give my best performance and to showcase my progress and compete at the highest level against fellow Xiangqi athletes from the Southeast Asian region. 

I’m also grateful for the unwavering support of my loved ones -special shout out to my family, friends, colleagues, teammates, and supporters who have been cheering me on and motivating me to strive ahead. Their encouragement has been a driving force behind my preparation for the SEA Games.

Q : Take us through your training preparations for Cambodia 2023
Fiona : 
My training preparations for the SEA Games in Cambodia 2023 includes analyzing games, studying opponents’ playing styles, and fine-tuning my own strategies. I have also been putting in extra effort to improve on my openings, positional understanding, tactical awareness, and mental resilience to handle the pressure of the competition. Apart from that I have been working on my physical fitness, engaging in regular cardiovascular, strength and flexibility exercises. Xiangqi may not be as physically demanding as some other sports, but it still requires a certain level of physical endurance, especially during long matches. 

Most importantly, I've been actively participating in local and regional competitions to gain more experience and exposure. Competing against other skilled players has helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses and has allowed me to fine-tune my strategies and tactics accordingly. 

Q : How important is this SEA Games campaign and which countries will pose a serious medal-challenge for you?
Fiona : This SEA Games campaign is of utmost importance to me as a Xiangqi athlete. It is a prestigious multi-sport event that brings together top athletes from Southeast Asian countries. And winning a medal at the SEA Games, would be a significant achievement which would bring about more visibility and recognition for the sport of Xiangqi. 

As for the countries that will pose a serious medal challenge, the team from Vietnam and Malaysia have historically posed tough competition. I expect them to field strong players during the SEA Games in Cambodia. It will be a challenging, but exciting opportunity to test my skills and compete against some of the best Xiangqi players in the region.

IMG-20230401-WA0007TeamSG's Fiona Tan at a training session. Photo Credit : Singapore Xiangqi General Association


Q : Can you describe your 20-year passion for Xiangqi? What is the game's most attractive feature?
Fiona :
My interest in Mind-sports started from a young age when I was in primary school. Xiangqi has always been an integral part of my life, shaping my character, skills, and values.

One of the most attractive features of Xiangqi is its logical and strategic nature. Every move requires careful consideration of the opponent's possible responses and the evaluation of potential risks and gains. It challenges my critical thinking and problem-solving skills, honing my ability to analyse complex situations and make calculated decisions. Xiangqi is like a mental battlefield, where I constantly engage in a battle of wits with my opponents, trying to outsmart them and gain an advantage.

Moreover, Xiangqi is an incredibly competitive game. The thrill of competition, the adrenaline rush of making a winning move at times under strict time pressures, and the joy of achieving victory after a hard-fought battle are unparalleled. The competitive nature of this Mind-sport pushes me to constantly strive for excellence, to sharpen my skills and broaden my knowledge of different strategies and tactics. It has also taught me the value of discipline, perseverance, and resilience, qualities that are not only applicable in the game, but also in other areas of life.

Beyond the strategic and competitive aspects, Xiangqi has also brought me countless meaningful friendships. I have met fellow Xiangqi enthusiasts from all walks of life, from different countries and backgrounds. We all share a common love for the game, and through Xiangqi, we have formed a tight-knit community of players who support, encourage, and inspire each other. Xiangqi has not only connected people from diverse cultures and across different age groups, but it has also fostered a sense of camaraderie and sportsmanship among the community.

In conclusion, my 20-year passion for Xiangqi has been fueled by its logical and competitive nature, as well as the friendships and connections it has brought into my life. It has been an incredible journey of personal growth, learning, and camaraderie, and I am grateful for the opportunities and experiences that Xiangqi has provided me. I am determined to continue honing my skills and representing my country with pride at the upcoming SEA Games, showcasing the beauty and excitement of Xiangqi to the world.

Q : What are you hoping to achieve in Cambodia and what's next for Xiangqi in 2023?
Fiona :
I will give my best effort and strive to perform at the highest level and aim for a podium finish at the SEA Games. Beyond the Cambodia campaign, there are several upcoming events to look forward to this year. Next up in June, will be the annual Nationals Open Championship, followed by the Asian Xiangqi Championship in August. The other most significant event would be The Hangzhou Asian Games in September-October where Xiangqi will be featured. Finally, in December we have the World Xiangqi Championships. 

20230415_085404Fiona Tan (left) and her national teammates at the SEA Games Flag Presentation Ceremony in April 2023. Photo Credit : Singapore Xiangqi General Association


Q : What is your Pre-Game ritual (if any)?
Fiona : As an athlete, I've learnt the importance of taking care of my body before a Major Games. One of the most critical aspects of my pre-game routine is ensuring that I am adequately hydrated. Additionally, I prioritize getting enough rest to ensure that my mind and body are fresh. Finally, I make sure to visit the toilet before the game starts to avoid any discomfort or distractions during the competition. 

Q : Do you have a favourite go-to song before the start of a game?
Fiona : Unlike many athletes who have a go-to song, I prefer to approach each game with a clear and open mind. While music can be a good motivator, I find that having a rigid pre-game routine can actually add unnecessary pressure and detract from my performance. Instead, I prefer to focus on the task at hand and mentally prepare myself for the competition ahead.

Q : Do you have a pre-game meal, snack or drink before a game?
Fiona : 
Proper nutrition and hydration is essential for peak performance. Before a game, I try to have a balanced meal at least 1-2 hours before, in order to allow adequate time for digestion. In between games, if I’m feeling hungry, I also try to snack on small, healthy foods like fruits or nuts to keep my energy levels up. In terms of drinks, I tend to stick to plain water to stay hydrated. Hydration is key to maintaining energy and focus during a game, and I make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after the competition. 

Q : Your favourite Xiangqi player in the world and why?
Fiona : I
have come across many talented Xiangqi players all around the world. However, if I had to choose a favourite, it would be Grandmaster Wang Tian Yi from China. I admire Grandmaster Wang for his talented and highly versatile playing style as well as his commitment to excellence. He has consistently showcased exceptional skill, strategic acumen, and deep understanding of Xiangqi principles in his games. 

On top of that, Grandmaster Wang's sportsmanship and demeanour are exemplary. He epitomises the spirit of fair play, and humility in victory and defeat.

1682009958392Fiona's magnetic xiangqi chess set. Photo Credit : Fiona Tan


Q : Do you have a favourite personal momento/souvenir from your 20 years playing Xiangqi?
Fiona : I don’t exactly have a favourite memento, but I consider this magnetic Xiangqi set a cherished possession as it is a reminder of the countless hours spent honing my skills, reviewing games, and in tactical analysis. This set has been my faithful companion throughout my Xiangqi endeavours, accompanying me to countless tournaments, matches, and practice sessions. Its compact size and convenience have made it an indispensable tool for honing my skills and sharing the game with others. I loved the tactile feel of the pieces and the satisfying click they made when I moved them around the board. 

However, as smartphones became more ubiquitous, I found myself relying more and more on the Xiangqi apps available on my phone. While these apps lacked the tactile experience of playing with physical pieces, they offered a wider range of functions, including being able to play against opponents from all around the world, pretty much anywhere I go. However, despite the convenience of these apps, I still feel that it cannot replace the joy of having face-to-face games over a physical Xiangqi set. (Photo of Xiangqi set -see above)


The Chess Xiangqi competition at Cambodia 2023 begins from 12 May onwards.

Watch the Games LIVE on Singtel TV, Singtel TV GO, Singtel CAST and mewatch.

For the latest on our TeamSG athletes, visit