NANJING, China, April 2, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — With two decks of cards and four players, a card game has developed from over 60 million participants covering approximately 230 million people in just five years to over 140 million participants covering about 700 million people, and then ascended to become the “Game of the Year” in China in 2023. With incredible charm, Guandan is popular across China and making its way to the world.

From March 30th to 31st, the first Global Guandan Promotion Summit was held in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province. Nearly 300 representatives from various countries including overseas Chinese, as well as representatives from Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and some provinces (cities, autonomous regions), gathered to exchange and discuss the current development and promotion of this intellectual sport.

The First Global Guandan Promotion Summit Held in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province
The First Global Guandan Promotion Summit Held in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province

Former vice governor of Jiangsu Provincial People’s Government Li Quanlin, former vice chairman of the Standing Committee of Jiangsu Provincial People’s Congress Ding Jiemin, deputy director of Jiangsu Provincial Sports Bureau Zhang Haitao, and vice chairman of Jiangsu Provincial Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese Ai Hui attended the summit. Chairman of Jiangsu Guandan Sports Association Qi Guanshan and Party Secretary and Chairman of Jiangsu Yanghe Distillery Co., Ltd. Zhang Liandong delivered keynote speeches. Founding President of Canada Guandan Association and President of Canada Jiangsu General Chamber of Commerce Wu Weidong, Honorary President of Australia Guandan Association and Executive President of Australia Jiangsu General Chamber of Commerce Wang Ning, President of Australia Jiangsu General Chamber of Commerce and President of Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Wei Zuliang delivered speeches.

Qi Guanshan, President of the Jiangsu Guandan Sports Association, stated that in order for Guandan, as an emerging intellectual sport among the folk of Jiangsu, to achieve its goal of going global, collective efforts are needed in the following aspects:

1. Stepping on Global level

The great road leaves no trace; the traveler knows no bounds! Guandan belongs not only to China but also to the world. We should share the great achievements created by Chinese wisdom and civilization! It belongs to the nation as well as to the world. We should strive to establish Guandan as a formal international sports competition,  igniting a beam of light from Guandan into the Olympic flame!

2. Acquiring global vision

During a media interview, Gianarrigo Rona, President of the World Bridge Federation, specifically mentioned, “After coming to China, I learned about Guandan. By reading about the competition rules and documents of Guandan, I believe it is primarily a sports competition project, not a gambling game. This is the most important foundation for Guandan to go global.” There are a total of five international intellectual sports competition projects, including three Western projects and two Chinese projects. If Guandan can be included in international intellectual sports competition projects, then Chinese projects will reach three, filling the gap in Chinese card game projects. If Guandan becomes an official competition project of international intellectual sports competitions, it will be a significant contribution to the International Mind Sports Federation.

3. Following unified rules

As the ancients said, “Ancient instruments conform to standards, rules correspond to regulations,” and “The great regulations needs to be refined, just like gold and ores.” The “Competition Rules for Guandan (Trial)” issued by the Chess and Card Sports Management Center of the General Administration of Sport of China are the behavioral guidelines and regulations that must be followed in Guandan events. It is a system constraint to align with international sports events and ensure fair competition. We should strictly adhere to the rules of competitive Guandan, organize Guandan events, resist and oppose negative actions that arbitrarily change referee rules and objectively affect the promotion and popularization of Guandan, and establish the seriousness, uniformity, and authority of the national competition rules for Guandan

4. Gathering tremendous energy

Among the stars and the vast seas, striving should begin with dreams; gathering hearts and energy, success should befall the human aspirations. In Guandan, we have hundreds of millions of enthusiasts from home and abroad, which is an unparalleled source of tremendous energy. Through our joint efforts, unity, and cooperation, we can unleash the tremendous power of Guandan and create a more brilliant future for Guandan.

5. Aligning with famous brands.

The sky is high and blue because of the support of dreams; the sea is deep and blue because of the convergence of rivers. In recent years, well-known enterprises such as Yanghe and Shuanggou in the alcohol industry, as well as Yangzi River Pharmaceuticals, have supported Guandan. Through the integrated development of sports culture and brand economy, they have achieved long-term success, realizing a win-win situation for social benefits and brand benefits.

Mental Competition, Folk Game “Upgrades” to Intellectual Sports

What is Guandan? How was it invented?

Guandan is an intellectual activity played with two decks of cards by four players, who form two partnerships and compete in turns counterclockwise to determine the order of upgrades based on the completion of their hands, with victory determined by the number of upgrades.

In the 1960s and 1970s, four villagers from Cao Yun Town (formerly Nanzha Township) in Huai’an, Jiangsu Province, Sun Zhaocheng, Fan Yuerong, Geng Zhichang, and Tao Wanzhi, invented Guandan during their leisure time. This game integrates many specialties of local card games such as “Run Fast,” “Eighty Points,” and “Dou Di Zhu,” through teamwork, flexible card grouping, mutual assistance, and mental competition.

In 2014, Guandan was approved as a municipal-level intangible cultural heritage of Huai’an. In 2016, Guandan was included in the official competition events of the 7th Jiangsu Provincial National Fitness Games and the exhibition events of the International Mind Sports Federation Elite Tournament in Huai’an. In 2022, following research and trials by the General Administration of Sport of China’s Chess and Card Sports Management Center, the “Competition Rules for Competitive Guandan (Trial)” were implemented, marking Guandan’s transition from a mass recreational activity to a combination of mass participation and competition, becoming a formal intellectual sport.

Charming and Popular, Loved by 140 Million People for “Fun + Competition”

“Not playing Guandan before meals is like not eating; not playing Guandan after meals is like wasting the meal.” “Playing Guandan well shows intelligence; playing Guandan skillfully indicates clear thinking”… Such rhymes illustrate the popularity of this game among the people. Because it combines multiple card game play styles, which helps improve memory, judgment, and analysis skills, and requires teamwork to upgrade, Guandan demonstrates unique fun and competitiveness, presenting a high degree of social attributes and continuously infiltrating into different social circles and scenes.

Today, Guandan is not only popular in China but also many overseas Chinese communities have established Guandan associations (clubs) , organized Guandan events and promoted Guandan culture. Data shows that before the establishment of the Jiangsu Guandan Sports Association, Guandan was only popular in Jiangsu and Anhui provinces, with over 60 million people participating, covering a population of about 230 million. After five years of promotion, Guandan has spread beyond China, with over 140 million participants globally, covering approximately 700 million people.

“Guandan has special values such as intellectual relaxation, friendship enhancement, and social maintenance, and its charm is increasingly recognized and accepted by people around the world.” Qi Guanshan, President of the Jiangsu Guandan Sports Association, stated that in the future, Jiangsu will organize and host various levels of events, including the “World Guandan Championship,” as well as international and national-level mind sports competitions, to allow more people worldwide to understand, appreciate, and love Guandan, and to share the achievements created by Eastern wisdom and civilization.